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September 16, 2013
LSU's three-game preparation stretch for the Southeastern Conference is over.
The 3-0 Tigers will open their league schedule at home Saturday night against Auburn. LSU coach Les Miles is more than ready for the start of SEC play.
"This is the type of game we need," said Miles at his weekly media luncheon Monday. "Auburn is a quality conference opponent. It's the SEC and you better be ready. They are highly competitive games which usually go down to the end. If you enjoy competition, you'll enjoy these games."
Of course, Miles is very satisfied with the state of the offense. Zach Mettenberger has completed 65 percent of his passes (45-of-69) for 797 yards and nine touchdowns with no interceptions.
"Zach continues to get better," Miles said. "He understands what we want and he is geared in to what we are doing. In the SEC, you'll see better secondaries and better pass rushers. We are preparing for that."
The Tigers' ground game came alive against Kent State and produced more than 300 yards - almost as many rushing yards as the first two games combined. Both Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee rushed for more than 100 yards. Moreover, both averaged more than ten yards per attempt.
The LSU offensive line had its best game as regards run blocking. Miles is happy with the manner in which the re-tooled line is performing.
Report card: LSU-Kent State
"The offensive linemen are making progress," Miles said. "They have to continue to do so. I like how they are approaching practice. This week will be another challenge."
Defensively, one of the main goals for coordinator John Chavis has been finding out which players can be counted upon when the SEC schedule begins. As a result, Chavis used a number of backups in the victories against UAB and Kent State.
It appears that end Danielle Hunter and tackles Quentin Thomas and Christian LaCouture are ready to provide rest for the defensive line starters. There has been a wide variety of combinations utilized at linebacker and in the secondary.
Kwon Alexander is the linebacker who remains on the field in the nickel and dime packages. The starters in the base defense are Lamin Barrow and Tahj Jones on the outside and D.J. Welter in the middle.
"I like our linebacker rotation," Miles said. "We have gotten more young guys work there and that's good for us. We are looking at different guys against different styles of offense. We would like to settle down to a five-man rotation."
It will be interesting to see who will become that fifth linebacker. Lamar Louis has been on the field for a few series as Welter's backup at middle linebacker. Last week, Kendell Beckwith played a couple of series in the middle. Beckwith normally lines up on the strong side.
"Chief (Chavis) is bringing the young guys along with the veterans and the newcomers," Miles said. "We expect that to continue. The defense is making progress. It is getting better and better each quarter. Both the young guys and the veterans are more comfortable with their roles."
Barrow missed most of the Kent State game with a shoulder injury. Miles said that Barrow could have returned to the game in the second half. Safety Craig Loston was held out of the game against the Golden Flashes with a leg injury. According to Miles, Loston will play against Auburn.
Different feel to this LSU 3-0 start
"Craig Loston will be back this week," Miles said. "He could have played last week. But, the rest time was beneficial for him. It also gave us the opportunity to use other players."
Miles wants to have as many players as possible ready for the game against Auburn, which is 3-0 after scoring the winning touchdown in the final seconds against Mississippi State last weekend.
"The sense of urgency will be there this game," Miles said. "We have had a nice start, but we are not where we want to be. We need to improve this week. We're a team with designs on the back end of the season. The time to work is now."
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