The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

September 17, 2013

No. 6 LSU confident as SEC schedule begins

(Continued)

The offensive balance is something Miles has been seeking for a few seasons. A productive passing game will open things up for the Tigers' power running attack.

"I am encouraged as we start conference," guard Trai Turner said. "Teams have to play both the run and the pass now. Teams have to be concerned about our versatility this year."

Defensive coordinator John Chavis faced a challenging task with just three returning full-time starters. There has been little dip in defensive effectiveness while Chavis has been developing depth by using a number of his young backups in the first three games.

"Chief (Chavis) is doing a good job," Miles said. "He's bringing young guys along — veterans and newcomers all at the same time. We're making progress defensively. We get better and better with each quarter. The young guys and the veterans are feeling more comfortable understanding their roles."

The defense has allowed five touchdowns in the first three games, but two of those were set up by turnovers. Opposing teams are averaging 268 yards per game, but the Tigers say they've seen an improvement as the young players have gained more experience.

"We had effort the first two games, but we had mental mistakes," defensive tackle Ego Ferguson said. "There were not as many busted assignments last week against Kent State. The communication was better. There are a lot of new faces. We have had to learn each other's strengths and weaknesses."

Cornerback Jalen Mills, who started last season as a true freshman, knows there is an adjustment for newcomers to the lineup. This group of defensive players has adopted the proper attitude.

"We are better as a whole on defense now than we were three weeks ago," Mills said. "The important thing is that everybody comes ready to work every day. You never hear anybody say 'I don't want to practice today.' We don't ever want to be satisfied."

Miles stressed that his team must be prepared for a rigorous eight-game SEC schedule which begins Saturday against Auburn.

"You better be ready," Miles said. "A conference game is going to be a highly contested game. It generally comes down to the end. If you enjoy competition at the very highest level, you love these games."

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