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LSU Defense Keeps Looking For Improvement, Experiments With Kristian Fulton At Nickel

Northwestern State v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

With all the fanfare that has come with Joe Brady and LSU’s offense this season, an equal amount of criticism has come for Dave Aranda and the defense.

The LSU defense held Georgia Southern to just three points in the season opener before giving up 38 at Texas, 14 against Northwestern State and 38 at Vanderbilt.

After a bye week, the Tigers are looking to turn things around against another non-conference opponent Utah State. LSU spent most of the bye week “self studying”

“On defense, it was about tackling and causing turnovers,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron at his weekly luncheon. “And more or less not the actual tackle, which is important, but the approach: How was our footwork? Where was our weight distributed? Where was our eyes and our angles? We practiced that all week.”

Turnovers is an important stat. The Tigers only have four turnovers on the season — two fumble recoveries against Georgia Southern and two interceptions against Vanderbilt.

Tackling is obviously LSU’s biggest issue. I wrote here about my issues with the defense, but I also said that it’s 100 percent fixable. Orgeron agreed, saying:

“As far as improving the defense? The number one thing is tackling. The missed tackles that we have, that we need to get better at. We have some great athletes. And again they’re trying, they’re trying hard. They’re playing hard. It’s more or less their technique, more or less how the gap fits.”

Delpit told the media that fixing the tackling is tough and comes with practice, simulating it as close to game-speed as possible. K’Lavon Chaisson echoed that, saying that having the first of two bye weeks at this point in the season was important to be able to look at the things they need to fix and go about adjusting them.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron said at the beginning of the season that this was one of the best defensive secondaries he’s ever been around, but there is a lot of room for improvement.

“I think we’ve done decent,” said junior safety Grant Delpit. “I think we’ve got to catch the ball they throw to us, we could’ve had a lot more picks. I think we’ve done alright and we can always get better.

One of the things LSU is doing to improve in the secondary is experimenting with senior cornerback Kristian Fulton at nickel with Kary Vincent.

Fulton is a lock down corner and Delpit says that getting him in the nickel is just about getting guys that can cover in space all over the field, as well as adding to the depth at the position. Delpit said covering in the slot can be more difficult and the move is about having as many people that can cover in space as possible.

With Fulton at nickel, that leaves two true freshmen cornerbacks on the field at any time — Derek Stingley Jr., who has more than proven himself already, and Cordale Flott. Delpit said being on that island out by yourself when playing corner is difficult for anybody, especially the inexperienced freshmen, but he thinks they’re up for the challenge.

“Coach Raymond has the confidence to put him in the game early is huge. It says that he’s been balling,” Delpit said. “All of our freshman corners have been balling. Getting that opportunity is huge for him and we’ll see what he can do.”

Injury updates

In addition to all of the adjustments in the next stretch of the season, the Tigers will continue to return guys from injury.

Orgeron said at his Thursday press conference that outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson will play against Utah State, but he’s not sure if defense lineman Rashard Lawrence will or how much.

Linebacker Michael Divintiy will definitely not play this weekend and Glen Logan did practice, but will likely not play.