BATON ROUGE — — The statistics show LSU has slid in defense this season, and Coach Les Miles does not want his coordinators talking about it.
Miles would not allow co-defensive coordinators Doug Mallory and Bradley Dale Peveto to speak with reporters this week about the team’s defense, which is no longer the toughest in the state, according to NCAA statistics that put the Tigers behind Tulane in total defense.
Mallory and Peveto have become flash points for criticism this season as No. 15 LSU (5-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) has slipped to ninth in the league in total defense and allowed more than 50 points twice in a season for the first time in school history. Web sites devoted to LSU football are brimming with solutions to the problem and suggesting candidates for Mallory’s and Peveto’s replacements.
Miles promoted the two to co-coordinator positions after Bo Pelini took the head coaching job at Nebraska after last season, and each retained his previous job as a position coach — Peveto with linebackers and Mallory with the secondary. Mallory has been with Miles since 2001, when he joined the staff at Oklahoma State, while Peveto came to LSU from Middle Tennessee for the 2005 season.
Most of the Tigers’ defensive woes seem to be in the secondary, although the team has generated inconsistent pressure on quarterbacks. LSU ranks 10th in the conference against the pass, with opponents topping 205 yards passing per game. The Tigers’ four interceptions are the fewest in the SEC, and the team ranks ninth in turnover margin. In the red zone, LSU is last in the league, allowing scores on 19 of the opponents’ 20 trips inside the 20-yard line.