No. 7 LSU looking for improved offense vs Rice

LSU Tigers running back Nick Brossette is coming off a 90-yard rushing performance against Arkansas,Photo Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

It might be able to find it against 1-10 Rice in the Tigers home finale Saturday night.

The Owls have lost their last 10 games in a row. Only one of those games was decided by fewer than 14 points and Rice has allowed an average of 38.5 points during the losing streak.

LSU has struggled offensively in its three games since a 36-16 victory against then-No. 2 Georgia last month. The Tigers scored just one touchdown in a 19-3 victory against Mississippi State, didn’t score at all in a 29-point loss to No. 1 Alabama and had to hold on to defeat Arkansas, which is winless in the SEC, 24-17, last Saturday.

Coach Ed Orgeron said he told offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger to review the tape of the game against Georgia to try and recapture what worked in that game and hasn’t worked since.

“We were clicking pretty good that game,” Orgeron said. “Let’s look at the things that we did, I think it’s more or less to simplify. We’re putting too many things in. Are we trying to cover up some things that are some weaknesses? Maybe.

“Maybe sometimes we feel like we’re handcuffed, we can’t get as many receivers out as we want to or something like that because of protection or whatever it may be. We’re going to look at the defenses that are giving us problems, have answers for those defenses because we’re going to see them again.”

The Rice defense hasn’t been giving opponents too many problems. The Owls have given up fewer than 30 points just twice during the losing streak and have allowed 45, 43, 40, 56, 42 and 41 in other losses.

Running back Nick Brossette, one of 18 seniors who will be honored before their final home game Saturday, is coming off a 90-yard rushing performance against Arkansas, his second-highest total in the last eight games. He needs 208 yards to reach 1,000 in his first season as a starter.

“Coming into the season we had those questions at running back; there’s no questions anymore,” Orgeron said. “He’s had a tremendous season. I hope he gets a thousand yards. I don’t know how many shy he is, but whatever it is, I want him to get it, give him a chance to get it, he’s very deserving.”

LSU needs a victory Saturday and another in the regular-season finale at Texas A&M next Saturday to have a 10-win regular season and almost certainly secure a New Year’s Six bowl bid. But Orgeron was reluctant to look that far ahead.

“Our target is Rice and Rice only,” he said.

Orgeron was asked about the possibility of giving young backups game experience if the Tigers get a big lead and he alluded to a shocking 24-21 loss to had to Troy last season in Tiger Stadium.

“Obviously we know there might be an opportunity for those guys to play,” Orgeron said. “But listen, man, we learned our lesson last year and that’s not going to happen to us again. So we’re going full bore against these guys.”

Rice first-year coach Mike Bloomgren’s team is taking the first steps toward what the Owls hope will be respectability in Conference USA. But for now they are outmanned, especially against an SEC program.

But Bloomgren said he stressed to his players that they can’t afford to be intimidated by the Tigers.

“You look at their roster one to 22 and they’re going to be more talented than us,” Bloomgren said. “They’re going to have more guys with stars by their name in terms of recruiting rankings. But every week in college football, you see a team go into one of those places and you see the score on your phone and you go ‘Wow, those dudes beat them?’ It happens every week. We have to go in there and worry about what we can control, worry about our jobs and playing the best football we can and we’ll be happy with the results.

“We can’t come out of the tunnel and let Death Valley or Mike the Tiger score points for them. We’ve got to make them line up across from us, go toe-to-toe and earn everything they get. And we’ve got to give it back to them. That’s what I expect from our guys. … Nobody outside of these walls believes we can do it. We know we can. So let’s go. Let’s just go play football and enjoy every minute.”

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