LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery said the Tigers' narrow victory against Auburn over the weekend was a "shock to our system."
And it should have been.
On and off paper, there was absolutely no doubt LSU was the much better team. Auburn played a heck of a game on defense, but LSU helped those Tigers out by making a handful of sloppy mistakes when it had the ball.
LSU's ugly 12-10 win has the college football world buzzing about how overrated the Tigers appear to be, but Montgomery doesn't see it that way. He understands the execution issues, penalties and turnovers are a concern, but he also knows all of that can be fixed. To him, it all goes back to practice and making sure time during the week is used wisely.
“Games are one and lost during the week, I feel like," Montgomery said Saturday. "It’s just getting our priorties in check as a team -- the young guys, older guys -- and what’s really important.”
He admitted the Tigers' focus wasn't what it should have been during the week leading up to the Auburn game. While he couldn't exactly put his finger on the reason for it, he pledged to make sure it doesn't happen again. He's the closest thing LSU has to a player-coach, and he has vowed to have his team more prepared this week and so forth.
Montgomery's teammates agreed with his assessment and it sounds like squeaking past Auburn really got the attention of the Tigers.
"I feel like being in such a close game that we showed everyone that we can pull through at the end and come together as a team and work hard, but it also shows us that we need to be humble and continue to improve," junior linebacker Luke Muncie said. "We're not going to be good enough to the national championship until that time comes."
And that means tougher, better practices. Les Miles said as much Saturday night when he said his team will have the opportunity to learn from all of its mistakes in a "very aggressive manner." When you have nine silly penalties in a game like that, you better expect a few more sprints throughout the week and extra time working on the little things, like timing, technique and placement.
For the moment, LSU is almost being counted out in the national scene after Saturday. But people have to be reminded that games like these happen to good teams. LSU lost two games in 2007, but still won the national championship. Florida lost to Ole Miss at home in 2008. Alabama had its own 12-10 scare against Tennessee (at home) during its 2009 national championship run. Auburn had a more than a couple close calls in its title run in 2010. And Alabama lost to LSU last year.
These games happen, and there has been a gigantic overreaction to LSU's close call.
"I think a lot of guys know we haven't played our best football game yet," quarterback Zach Mettenberger said. "We just gotta work ... and really work out the penalties and kinks, and just really tune everything up for Towson and get ready to roll."