Last Modified: Friday, October 04, 2013 6:16 PM
STARKVILLE, Miss. — LSU’s margin for error is gone.
But history will be on the Tigers’ side tonight when the 10th-ranked Tigers try to bounce back from the first loss of the season by traveling to Mississippi State and a second straight road game.
Never mind that the Tigers (4-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) have won 13 straight and 20 of the last 21 against the Bulldogs (2-2, 0-1).
Head coach Les Miles is in his ninth season with the Tigers and only once has his team lost back-to-back games.
Miles has lost 22 games with the Tigers and LSU is 20-1 following those losses, the only double misstep was in 2008, when the Tigers ended the regular season with losses to Ole Miss and Arkansas.
That trend will have to continue if LSU is to stay in the SEC West race.
“There’s not a chance that we’ll be looking ahead,” Miles said. “This is a program, when they get to the end of the week, they really need to have victory.
“The work they put in is so significant, this will not be a difficult week for us to get our eyes open.”
Cornerback Jalen Mills said Miles has a way of motivating, “his will to win and prepare.”
“After a loss, you see things differently,” Mills said. “You have to take your level of preparation to a whole new level. He’s done a great job with that. It’s the way he coaches. It’s in a loving way, and it’s in a way where he wants us to get better from it.”
The Tigers, who scored their most points ever in a regulation-game loss while losing 44-41 to Georgia, have plenty to work on, especially on defense where they gave up almost 500 yards last week.
“Our attention as coaches is certainly there,” Miles said.
Miles has ruled out wholesale personnel changes — “We’ll play with the guys we’ve got” — but also said they may try to use more players on defense while working overtime to clear up the communication issues that plagued the secondary last week.
“Those kind of things have been gone over and over,” Miles said. “We’re optimistic that those things won’t repeat.”
Mississippi State, which had an open date last week, gives LSU even more to think about — two quarterbacks.
Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said in midweek that Tyler Russell, who played well against LSU last year with 295 yards passing, will start at quarterback again.
“That’s the plan, Mullen said. “We’ll see how it goes Saturday.”
Russell hasn’t played since early in the second half of State’s season-opening loss to Oklahoma State when he suffered a concussion.
But while Russell is more of a straight drop-back quarterback, dual-threat Dak Prescott performed well in his absence and will undoubtedly see playing time.
“We’ll be ready for both,” Miles said.
Prescott, a Haughton native who LSU recruited in vain, has thrown for 177 yards per game, but also leads the Bulldogs in rushing with 54 yards per game and five touchdowns.
“Just a playmaker for them,” Miles said.