Posted at 4:11 pm on October 8, 2018

LSU searching for answers in pass rush

Terrill Weil
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Tyler Nunez

Tyler Nunez

Tyler Nunez was named Assistant Editor of Tiger Rag in September 2018. He covers LSU football and basketball and is a graduate of the LSU Manship School of Journalism.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron hasn’t been pleased with LSU’s defensive front for weeks now, and his worries proved reasonable in the Tigers’ 27-19 loss to Florida last week.

LSU didn’t record a sack on Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks, and they tallied just two tackles for loss against the Gators all game. In addition, the Gators put up 212 rushing yards against LSU, even when the Tigers knew the run was coming.

Simply said, that’s just not going to cut it as LSU is in the midst of its toughest four-game stretch on the schedule. And it’s definitely not going to cut it against No. 2 Georgia this weekend.

“They’re going to line up and try to maul you and run right at you,” Orgeron said. “And then they have speed sweeps, they can get around the edge to bunch toss. They’re very much a pro style running team. They’re very good at it.”

Against Florida, LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda tried to remedy some of the problems up front by using different combinations  on the line and moving guys around. I one point nose tackle Breiden Fehoko was playing on the end.

This helped the Tigers get to Franks for hurries in the second half, after a first half in which Franks settled in pretty well.

Orgeron said the Tigers will continue moving guys around and trying different schemes in an effort to get to the quarterback and get past the opposing offensive line more effectively.

“We’re going to continue to try to do that,” Orgeron said. “Now we didn’t have the sacks that we wanted but we went back and we had some pressures and we had some guys that had some good rushes, but it wasn’t good enough.”

After earning nine sacks in the first two games of the season against Miami and Southeastern Louisiana, LSU is yet to record more than two sacks in a game since, recording one against Auburn, two in garbage time against Louisiana Tech, two against Ole Miss and going sackless against the Gators.

“We almost got there, but almost doesn’t count in the (Southeastern Conference),” said LSU defensive end Rashard Lawrence. “We hit (Franks) but… he was getting rid of it quick. Sometimes he was holding the ball too long, and that’s on us. That’s a direct reflection on us up front.”

Lawrence echoed Orgeron, saying the Tigers did a better job pressuring Franks than they did previous opposing quarterbacks, but he also said it wasn’t enough.

“We have to keep rushing,” Lawrence said. “Like Coach O says, you never know when a sack is going to come. We definitely did a better job rushing the quarterback. I was pleased with that. But overall we have to keep rushing, and sacks are going to come.”

This Saturday, The Tigers will go against a much more traditional and pro-style quarterback in Georgia sophomore Jake Fromm.

Fromm does most of his damage from the pocket. He has only 13 rushes recorded in the stat sheet this season, eight of which are sacks.

But if LSU’s front can’t make him uncomfortable in the pocket, Fromm is going to make the Tigers pay for it.

Fromm has completed 83 of 114 passes for 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns through the air. He’s also made minimal big mistakes, throwing just two interceptions through the first six games.

The Tigers will get a little bit more help this week as inside linebacker Jacob Phillips is set to return. They’ll need all the help they can get against one of the biggest offensive lines the SEC has to offer.

“The pass rushing is there, but we have to execute much better,” said outside linebacker Michael Divinity. “We did get close to the quarterback, and we had quarterback pressure and forced him to make bad passes. But we have to get sacks. That will help us on defense. We’re going to work on that this week.”

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