BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Zach Mettenberger insists LSU's offense is not as bad as it looks.
"We're close. We're very close," Mettenberger said after practice Monday evening. "We just got to get it to where all 11 guys on offense are doing the right things at the right time."
LSU (5-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) was unable to score a single touchdown in a 14-6 loss at No. 4 Florida last weekend, but Mettenberger said eliminating minor, correctable errors could drastically enhance the ninth-ranked Tigers' offensive output when No. 3 South Carolina (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) visits Death Valley this Saturday night.
"There are a lot of different things that factor into it that fans and the media don't really see but I can assure you that all of our mistakes are correctable," he said. "We've just got to take care of business and get them corrected."
If the Tigers' fail to do as their quarterback prescribes, their hopes of playing for a national title in Miami could virtually vanish. A victory, however, would provide almost immediate redemption and inject the Tigers right back into the BCS discussion.
"It's a perfect situation," safety Eric Reid said. "We had a tough loss, but at the same time, we can have a big win this Saturday."
Reid and the rest of LSU's defense remains confident after shutting out the Gators in the first half and forcing two turnovers on fumbles before Florida broke through for a pair of second-half touchdowns. By then end of the game, LSU's defense had played an exhausting 70 snaps and had been on the field for nearly two-thirds of the game (37:24).
"We did have a couple miscues but I feel like we improved a lot," said LSU linebacker Kevin Minter, the SEC defensive player of the week after making 20 tackles (one short of a school record), registering two sacks and forcing a fumble. "This was probably our best game that we played, I feel like, especially with the competition we were going against. Florida has a ridiculous amount of talent."
LSU coach Les Miles called his defense's performance "tremendous," and said both side of the ball are playing with plenty of effort.
Still, he acknowledged the anemic state of the offense threatens to undermine LSU's season if its execution does not improve.
"We have to play smarter," Miles said. "We have to run it and throw it better."
LSU has averaged nearly 200 yards on the ground this season, though much of that has come against overmatched opponents. The Tigers managed only 42 yards rushing against the Gators, and the passing game did little to offset the Tigers' struggles on the ground. Mettenberger completed fewer than half his passes for 158 yards, was intercepted once on an overthrow of an open receiver and was sacked four times.