LSU Football: Bo Pelini has one major flaw he needs to fix

LSU football DC Bo Pelini. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
LSU football DC Bo Pelini. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

LSU football defensive coordinator Bo Pelini has a major flaw he needs to fix.

I don’t think anyone expected LSU football to dominate in 2020 the way the program did in 2019.

But I don’t think anyone expected a 1-2 start with losses to Mississippi State and Missouri, either.

Most of the attention during the offseason was on the Tigers’ offense.

Would LSU be able to put up points without Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Ja’Marr Chase?

The answer is a resounding yes. The Tigers are averaging 38 points a game so far this season. Quarterback Myles Brennan has passed for 1,112 yards and 11 touchdowns in three games. And wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr (21 catches for 424 yards and seven touchdowns) is proving to be one of the most underrated players in the nation.

LSU’s defense, however, has been a massive letdown.

There are several reasons for the defensive issues. But the single biggest problem has to do with a flaw that defensive coordinator Bo Pelini absolutely has to fix.

Where LSU football defensive coordinator Bo Pelini is failing

The problem with hiring a veteran coach like Pelini, who hasn’t served as a defensive coordinator since 2007, is that there’s sometimes an unwillingness to adapt.

That definitely appears to be the case with Pelini so far this season.

Former NFL linebacker Scott Shanle, a former Nebraska linebacker who has followd Pelini’s career closeley (he didn’t play for Pelini at Nebraska), pointed out to The Athletic this week that he noticed a “refusal to adjust” from the former Cornhuskers head coach.

“A refusal to adjust in the middle of the game,” explained Shanle.

That refusal to adjust is something that haunted Pelini at Nebraska. And now it’s haunting him in Baton Rouge.

The problem is that Pelini’s defense is too complicated right now. And the players are having to think way too much, instead of simply using their athleticism to make plays.

Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron isn’t meddling in the defense, but he wants the approach to change.

“We’ve gotta simplify,” said Coach O on Monday during a virtual media session with reporters. “I don’t care if we have to play one defense and one coverage. Play it, play it right. Do whatever we need to do, put our athletes in a good position and let them make plays.”

Pelini is going to have to adapt. Or his return to Baton Rouge will be short-lived.

There’s no doubt that Pelini posseses one of the best defensive minds in college football. But right now, it’s clear he’s trying to do too much. He’s putting too much on the players.

Let the players make plays and the four-star/five-star talent will take over the game. The defense doesn’t have to be perfect — the offense is doing plenty right now — but it has to be better than it’s been through the first three weeks of the season.

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LSU can still salvage the season and finish with a strong record. But it’s going to require a veteran defensive coach to approach the game like he never has before.