Still in control in the SEC, LSU holds out hope of title shot

Published 7:45 am Tuesday, October 16, 2007

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Whenever he saw highlights of delirious football fans storming the field after a major upset, Glenn Dorsey wondered what it was like for the vanquished players on the favored team as they slogged off the field amid the rollicking masses.

“I never wanted to be on the other end, but I always wondered how it is for them,” the LSU defensive tackle said Monday, reflecting on last Saturday’s 43-37, triple overtime loss at Kentucky.

Wildcats fans spilled out of the stands after watching their team knock off then-No. 1 LSU, a loss that would drop the Tigers to fifth in the AP Top 25 poll.

Email newsletter signup

“That was tough, man,” Dorsey recalled. “You get in the locker room, everybody’s silent. That’s just a feeling that I don’t want to get used to and don’t plan on getting used to. You’ve got to come out and correct that and play your heart out so you won’t have that feeling any more.”

LSU coach Les Miles and his players still consider themselves national title contenders, even if they’ve lost some ground.

The Tigers are fourth in the BCS standings, released on Sunday for the first time this season. Only three undefeated teams — Ohio State, Boston College and South Florida — were ahead of them, and there’s a lot of football left to play.

But LSU likely will have to run the table, starting with a home game Saturday night against No. 18 Auburn, which has rebounded from crushing home losses to South Florida and Mississippi State by pulling out close victories at Florida and Arkansas, with an easy home triumph over Vanderbilt in between.

After playing Auburn, LSU has a week off before traveling to Alabama, hosting Louisiana Tech, playing at Ole Miss and returning home against Arkansas. Should LSU win those games, they’ll head to the Southeastern Conference championship in Atlanta, which could be a rematch against South Carolina, Kentucky or Florida.

“I feel like it will work out for us. We’re still in good shape,” Dorsey said. “We’re not where we were or where we could be, but we still have a lot to play for.”

First, LSU (6-1, 3-1 SEC) must fix what went wrong last weekend.

The Tigers gathered Monday morning to watch film and discuss why they became one of the latest highly ranked teams this season to lose a game they were widely expected to win.

An impressive performance by Kentucky, which improved from No. 17 to No. 8, had a lot do to with it, Miles said.

But the Tigers also cost themselves with untimely dropped passes, too many penalties and a lack of discipline on defense.

“In the heat of competition with two quality teams, you’ve got to play smart,” Miles said. “You can’t make mistakes. Our execution was a little off and certainly that’s something we have to address. I didn’t enjoy the number of penalties that our football team had in that game.”

LSU was flagged 12 times for 103 yards, penalties that stalled LSU drives and extended Kentucky’s.

Kentucky also prolonged its own drives by converting nine third downs.

Miles said his defense didn’t lack effort, but may have been a little overzealous in its pursuit of the ball.

“At times, guys are thinking too much. They’re in position to make really strong plays and they’re trying to be in two places when they really only have responsibility to one,” Miles said. “It’s well intended, but it really needs to be corrected.”

On offense, quarterback Matt Flynn was off target on several passes, and when he was on the mark, LSU receivers had trouble catching the ball.

Miles blamed the drops on the inexperience of receivers who have seen more passes while senior Early Doucet has been sidelined with a groin injury.

Doucet, widely projected as a first-round NFL draft pick next spring, was Flynn’s most reliable target for the first two games this season. However, he injured his groin before LSU’s third game against Virginia Tech and did not dress again until the Kentucky game, during which he played sparingly and did not have a catch. Miles expects Doucet to play more against Auburn.

“Our passing is fine,” Miles said. It needs “no more than some coaching and some time for these young receivers and they’ll eventually come of age.”

LSU may need that time to be sooner rather than later.