LSU football coaches and players stated multiple times during the summer that sophomore outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson had a chance to break Arden Key’s single season sack record.
Chaisson had one sack against Miami, but then his season ended in a blink of an eye when he tore his ACL against the Hurricanes in Dallas.
The Tigers defense has combined for nine sacks in five games since they had four against Miami, and the 13 sacks on the season ranks eighth in the Southeastern Conference. Just this past week against Florida, LSU failed to sack Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks, and the Tigers are on pace to have their lowest sack total since 2014 — when they had 19 in John Chavis’ last year as defensive coordinator.
The defense did hurry Franks nine times on Saturday, and pressure from junior defensive linemen Rashard Lawrence and Breiden Fehoko helped cause a third quarter interception by sophomore safety Grant Delpit.
“A couple times we did get close to the quarterback,” said junior outside linebacker Michael Divinity. “We kind of had pressure and made him throw incomplete passes, but you know, we have to get sacks because it’s going to help us on defense, and we are going to work on that this week.”
Divinity is tied with Delpit for the team-lead in sacks at three, but no one else on the team has two. It’s why LSU coach Ed Orgeron unleashed junior outside linebacker Travez Moore against Florida. Moore was one of the top rated junior college players in the class of 2018 but struggled with the mental transition to SEC football the first five weeks of the season.
“I thought [Moore] played very well,” Orgeron said during his Monday luncheon with the media after the 27-19 loss to Florida. “In fact he rushed the passer better than anybody. You’re going to see more of him.”
Moore joins the trio of Divinity and sophomore outside linebackers Andre Anthony and Ray Thornton with being tasked to replace Chaisson, but it doesn’t just fall on them. LSU has to do a better job up front in four-man pressure situations. Orgeron alluded to the team’s struggles there last week in the build-up to the game against Florida.
The inability to get pressure with four has led defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to design different blitzes, but blitzing heavily comes with a cost, and it is not something Aranda likes do. His defensive scheme relies on disguising pressure and getting to the quarterback with a small number of players while the rest are in coverage.
“We’re going to continue to try to [blitz more],” Orgeron said. “Now we didn’t have the sacks that we wanted but we went back and we had some pressures and we had some guys that had some good rushes, but it wasn’t good enough.”
Aranda and his defense are going to have to find a solution fast with No. 2 Georgia coming to Baton Rouge on Oct. 13. The Bulldogs are led by sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm, who has completed 73 percent of his passes for 1200 yards, 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions.