Tell the Truth Monday: No. 1 LSU still has lots of work to do
It’s “Tell the Truth Monday.”
Every Monday during the football season, LSU coach Ed Orgeron tells the truth to his team.
It’s a no-holds-barred evaluation of the team’s previous performance – the good, the bad and the ugly regardless of how good or bad the outcome might have been.
Here are a few truths as the No. 1-ranked Tigers try to complete an undefeated regular season when they host Texas A&M on Saturday night.
LSU is ranked 43rd in the country in total defense. Ohio State is No. 1, Clemson is No. 2, Utah is No. 4, Georgia is No. 5. The Tigers play Georgia in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 7. No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson and No. 6 Utah are all potential CFP opponents for the Tigers.
It’s true that games are decided by the number of points scored, not by the number of yards gained. But yards lead to points and they increase time of possession, which reduces the number of plays Joe Burrow gets to run.
The Tigers can’t keep giving up as many yards as they have been if they’re going to keep winning.
The rankings for scoring defense are similar to the ones for total defense. LSU is ranked No. 42 in scoring defense, Ohio State is No. 1, Clemson is No. 2, Georgia is No. 3 and Utah is No. 4. By the way, Alabama, another potential CFP opponent, is tied for 10th.
If LSU continues to play defense as erratically as it has for the first 11 games, it will not win the national championship. It has the talent and the coaching to perform better defensively than it has.
But after 11 games, it’s reasonable to think this is what the Tigers’ defense is and will remain – roughly the 42nd-best unit in the country.
Speaking of defenses, LSU could find itself lining up against Utah and then either Ohio State or Clemson in the CFP after facing Georgia in Atlanta. That’s a string of defenses unlike anything the Tigers’ offensive line has faced, though they did face Florida, Auburn and Alabama in a 4-game stretch.
The offensive line has been good this season, very good at times, especially against Florida and Alabama. But it has had some rough moments and injury and disciplinary action have necessitated frequent lineup changes.
LSU is going to need continuity and consistency from the offensive line unlike it has had to this point and it needs to start this week.
Texas A&M is a pretty good team. It’s not great and LSU should win and win fairly easily.
But if the Tigers start as poorly as they did against Arkansas or finish as poorly against Ole Miss, the Aggies are better equipped to take advantage of it.
LSU should complete an undefeated regular season, but it needs to put together its most complete performance since Alabama in order to build momentum for what could be a heavyweight battle against Georgia in the SEC title game.
Having beaten 4 teams that were ranked in the top 10 at the time they played them doesn’t do the Tigers any good going forward. Georgia is probably better than any of those teams – Texas, Florida, Auburn and maybe Alabama – were when they played LSU.
Certainly Ohio State and Clemson are better than any of them and so perhaps is anyone else the Tigers might meet in the first round of the CFP.
As good as the SEC is, it’s not home to all of the best teams.
But not all truth is a warning.
Joe Burrow is going to win the Heisman Trophy. Yes there are two more weeks of football before voters vote and there will be two other players at Burrow’s side in New York. But Burrow will be the one leaving with the trophy.
If not for Burrow’s historic season, Clyde Edwards-Helaire would be having one of the most talked-about individual seasons by a Tiger in recent memory.
And that’s the truth.