LSU’s glaring defensive problem is not on the field

Critics of two-quarterback systems like to say that when you have two quarterbacks, you really have no quarterback. And they’re right. Doesn’t the same, though, hold true on the sidelines?

LSU has two defensive coordinators, and therefore has no defensive coordinator. And it’s really starting to show.

The Tigers, of course, make their living on defense. In its 2003 championship season, the Tigers finished No. 1 in total defense; No. 1 in scoring defense. In last year’s championship season, the Tigers finished No. 3 in total defense and No. 17 in scoring defense (reflecting 38 points given in six overtime periods).

Going in to the South Carolina game, the Tigers were ranked No. 32 in total defense; No. 52 in scoring defense. And that’s not a statistical fluke of the humiliation at Florida. LSU gave up 320 yards and 21 points to an Auburn team that could manage just 208 yards and 13 points against Vanderbilt and 284 yards and 24 points to Mississippi State, which managed just 116 yards and 2 points against Auburn.

And tonight against South Carolina, the Tigers gave up 226 yards and 17 points in the first half before turning up the quarterback pressure and shutting down the Cocks in the second half.

The LSU defense is just not very good. It’s certainly not the kind of defense we’re used to.

Yes, the Tigers returned just five starters this year. Losing Glenn Dorsey, Ali Highsmith, Jonathan Zenon, Craig Steltz and Chevis Jackson surely had an impact. But the two-deep depth chart features seven seniors, eight juniors, three sophomores, three redshirt freshmen and just one true freshman. That’s 15 upperclassmen and seven underclassmen – the same mix LSU won a national title with in ’03. This is not a young, green team.

No, the glaring difference in on the sidelines. After losing Bo Pelini to Nebraska, Les Miles replaced his defensive coordinator with – nobody. Pelini did not have position-coaching responsibilities; he was focused solely on running the defense. Same with Will Muschamp when he was at LSU.

But now LSU has this ridiculous “Co-Defensive Coordinator” setup with defensive backs coach Doug Mallory and linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto also “sharing” the responsibility of running the defense. To fill Pelini’s parking space at the Football Operations Center, Miles hired Joe Robinson to take over special-teams duty from Peveto and help out with the defensive line (the one area of the defense that actually still has a dedicated coach).

And it’s not like Miles is a defensive coach like Nick Saban, whose defensive philosophy drives the strategy. Saban now has a Defensive Head Coach as well as Defensive Coordinator under him at Alabama, and those guys have position responsibilities as well. But there’s no doubt who’s in charge of the Bama defense.

Let’s see – our defense is in general disarray with the most troubling spots being pass coverage by the linebackers and defensive backs. Gee, that wouldn’t have anything to do with LSU not having one guy dedicated solely to any of those responsibilities, would it?

That, friends, is how you dismantle a defense.

With the possible exception of Will Muschamp, there’s not a defensive coach in America who wouldn’t have packed his shit faster than Tony Franklin and headed straight to Baton Rouge had Leslie dialed him up. Fonzie is at Alabama; Pelini at Nebraska and Muschamp at Texas as the most sought-after head-coaching candidate right now because of what they did on defense at LSU. It’s a fantastic stepping-stone for any defensive-minded coach.

And Miles hired – nobody. He didn’t even elevate Mallory or Peveto to the position. He eliminated it. Now LSU is left to overcome a problem when it should be strengthening a fantastic defense. That’s inexcusable.

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5 Responses to “LSU’s glaring defensive problem is not on the field”

  1. [...] Yeah, I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this question – it’s because Les Miles eliminated the position of defensive coordinator. How long does it take for the “young” defense, as the popular [...]

  2. [...] the program and Leslie’s decisions. Most gratifying is that many people are starting to think eliminating the position of defensive coordinator wasn’t such a smart move by Miles. That this is gaining traction six weeks after I went on [...]

  3. Mike Chase says:

    I guess when you don’t have BO anymore you need two to replace him.. Get rid of both and get one. Les needs to get serious or go to Michigan and maybe we could take the Michigan coach…

  4. [...] casting the demons of last year away. Using his superb H.R. skills, he made his idiotic decision to not have a defensive coordinator fade away by finding his minions other jobs and bringing John Chavis in from Tennessee. And he [...]

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