LSU football will not continue to win games if this trend continues

LSU football improved to 2-1 on the season last weekend with a 31-16 win over visiting Mississippi State. The Tigers came from behind 13-0 in their Southeastern Conference opener to pick up a second consecutive win, outscoring the Bulldogs 31-3 after going down two scores. It was an impressive display of determination from Brian Kelly’s team against a tricky opponent.

Long snapper Slade Roy made the play of the game when he rushed downfield to collect a muffed punt. The hosts were down six at that point in time and giving the ball back to an explosive offense. Things weren’t looking great for LSU, despite a stubborn defensive performance. Roy’s heads-up action flipped the game on its head. All of that being said, the special teams unit has a long way to go in a short amount of time.

LSU football will not continue to win games if this trend continues

Brian Polian’s special teams must change their ways or risk becoming a liability to Kelly’s squad. They have already lost the Tigers one game when they had two muffed punts, a blocked field goal and a blocked PAT against Florida State. Therefore, it’s not farfetched to claim it could happen again in the near future.

LSU is now getting into the thick of its schedule. The Bayou Bengals are set to square off against some of the best teams in the country—including Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee. If the margin for error was slim against Mississippi State, it’ll be non-existent against better SEC opposition further down the road.

The Tigers had numerous inexplicable blunders on special teams on Saturday, most of which pertained to punt returns. LSU return men nearly cost their team dearly when attempting to field kicks. It seems as if the unit has not learned from its mistakes during Week 1. The punt return team tried to pick up a kick when surrounded by defenders and return a ball that was punted inside the 10-yard line on separate occasions. These issues boil down to coaching.

Furthermore, the Tigers’ kick coverage team allowed numerous big plays. If not for a boneheaded penalty away from the action on the play, LSU would have allowed a momentum-shifting kick return all the way inside its own 10 in the fourth quarter.

Special teams also had to rely on freshman offensive lineman Emery Jones to make an open-field tackle to prevent a touchdown. I’m no mathematician, but I’d venture to say the odds favor him missing the stop a majority of the time in future scenarios. Simply put, the current model for defending kick returns is not a sustainable way forward either.

Polian now has another chance to right the ship in a non-conference game against New Mexico. If the Tigers aren’t able to figure out their special teams woes by the end of this contest, they could be in big trouble the rest of the way. If LSU finds itself on the losing end of another game because of these inexplicable errors, look for Polian to be the first coaching change made under the new regime in Baton Rouge.