Mississippi State’s K.J. Costello set an SEC record for passing yards as the Bulldogs defeated LSU in the 2020 season opener.
The Tigers struggled at times on defense as Costello passed for 623 yards and five touchdowns against LSU’s secondary which was without All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
Without the star several players LSU was hoping to bring along slowly were pressed into action.
“We had to play Jay Ward, Jay Ward was out for two weeks, he had a minor operation, didn’t practice much and had to play most of the game today,” Orgeron said. “So I think he was a little behind. That’s not his fault. He wasn’t ready to play but that’s all we had. Darren (Evans) just came in from Nicholls State, he wasn’t ready to play.“
Orgeron said the inexperienced players weren’t the only reason LSU struggled on defense.
“We had too many missed assignments,” he said. “We got to look at why we are having those missed assignments, what’s causing them. Too many guys were running free. Too many guys were getting beat 1-on-1.
“We just got to go back looking at if we can cover man-to-man, if we can’t we got to make a decision and play some zone.”
Still Orgeron thinks the game was a valuable experience for his defense.
“Welcome to the SEC,” he said. “You got to get better. Hey this is elite man. You got to win your 1-on-1s and anybody you play any given day in the SEC, there’s going to be athletes across from you.
“We’ve got to cover them. We’ve got to win our 1-on-1s or we’ve got to do something different.
There were some bright spots on the unit including LSU’s new No. 7 Jacoby Stevens who finished the game with two sacks, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries and newcomers Ali Gaye, who had a sack and three pass break ups, as well as linebacker Jabril Cox, he had and interception and a sack.
Stevens said he thinks the Tigers will be able to bounce back from this subpar performance.
“The best thing we can do right now is not point any fingers and go attack the problem not the people,” Stevens said. “Right now, I can’t say if it’s schemer if it was what Mississippi State ran. I can make a promise that we’re going to get it fixed.”