LSU is running out of time to get ready for SEC play.
The Tigers entered the season ranked No. 16 and plummeted out of the rankings after a 38-27 loss at UCLA in the season opener.
LSU bounced back with a less-than-spectacular 34-7 home victory against FCS opponent McNeese State and conclude their pre-SEC schedule when they host Central Michigan on Saturday night. It’s a final opportunity to work out the rough spots before a relentless SEC slate hits full force.
Head coach Ed Orgeron said the defense did “an outstanding job” against McNeese, but added that “the offense is not performing like we want to perform right now.”
“That’s obvious,” Orgeron said. “I do believe the offensive line has to gel. We have to help them out. I’ve got to do a better job coaching.”
Three starting offensive linemen missed the game against McNeese because of injuries. Orgeron said he expects guard Chasen Hines to return Saturday but he’s unsure about tackle Austin Deculus and tackle Cameron Wire is out.
The running back position remains in a state of flux. John Emery Jr., the No. 2 rusher a year ago, is academically ineligible and likely to miss the whole season. Leading rusher Tyrion Davis-Price has struggled behind the inconsistent line and freshman Armoni Goodwin is expected to miss this game.
Freshman Corey Kiner and Tre Bradford, who just returned to the program after transferring to Oklahoma during the summer, are poised to have roles Saturday.
Orgeron is familiar with CMU coach Jim McElwain, splitting two tight games against Florida when McElwain was the Gators head coach.
The Chippewas (1-1) opened the season against another SEC opponent, Missouri, and were competitive in a 34-24 road loss.
CMU rebounded at home with a 45-0 thrashing of FCS opponent Robert Morris, its first shutout of an opponent since 2013.
“I think we’re growing as a program,” said McElwain, who’s in his third season. “You go out and you compete, and you compete at your highest level; it doesn’t matter against who.”
The Chippewas defense was on the field for just 38 plays as their offense had 28 first downs and rushed for 310 of their 515 total yards. Central Michigan ran 81 plays.
“Winning college football games is not an easy thing,” safety Gage Kreski said. “We really played off each other, both offense and defense, and that’s how we want it to be all season.”