Last Modified: Friday, September 28, 2012 8:50 PM
For the first time in a dozen years, LSU will be finished with its nonconference schedule in September after the Tigers host Towson tonight.
Translation: the meat of the schedule still awaits, with plenty of last-minute fine-tuning still to be done before the schedule toughens up considerably in the coming weeks.
On paper, the game would seem to hold little suspense — Las Vegas does not even put point spreads on games between Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision schools — for the third-ranked Tigers (4-0) against a Towson team (2-1) that is ranked 12th in its division.
But LSU has plenty of work to do after a sloppy 12-10 victory over Auburn last week.
“The whole model for this week is to get better,” wide receiver Russell Shepard said. “Last week we did some things that were uncharacteristic. In order to be the type team we’re capable of being, we’ve got to be more disciplined, we’ve got to do the things that experienced teams to.”
After this week, LSU has games with Florida, South Carolina and Texas A&M, then an open date before its big game with No. 1 Alabama. That’s three unbeaten teams and another, A&M, with one loss.
“The good news is our team understands the position they’re in,” head coach Les Miles said. “If they want to win a division or conference, they’re going to have to fix their mistakes.”
Miles said it should be an easy adjustment to cut down on the nine penalties that plagued the Tigers last week.
But he said he also wants to see a more efficient offense, particularly the passing game under quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
“I’m seeing things just fine,” Mettenberger said. “There’s a couple of things we need to work on. We’re just hurting ourselves. If we just clean that up we’re going to be a very good offensive team.”
Miles said it hasn’t been all Mettenberger who has kept the Tigers under 200 yards passing in all but one game. Mettenberger hasn’t always had the best protection and the retooled wide receivers corps has had problems getting open.
“I think our receivers are improving,” Miles said. “I think it’s a work in progress, like the rest of our team.
“I think they were key in some instances, in other instances, they can play better. I think they will.”
LSU’s defense has come as advertised, among the nation’s leaders in most of key measurements.
If LSU really needs to work on anything, Towson head coach Rob Ambrose can’t imagine what it is.
“I’ve been watching them on offense, defense and special teams and I’ve been looking for any holes I can find,” he said. “I can’t find any.
“This is the most athletically talented, technically sound football team I’ve ever seen on film.”
The Towson turnaround came last season, when Ambrose’s Tigers went 9-3 and made the FCS playoffs after going 1-10 the previous season. It was the biggest improvement in Division I last season.
Towson is led by sophomore running back Terrance West, a preseason FCS All-American who last year rushed for 29 touchdowns and owns the school career record with five more this year.