BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU is 11th in the SEC in penalty yards, 10th in the league in red-zone offense and has had more turnovers than games played.
That's the bad news coming from No. 3 LSU on Monday, two days after the 4-0 Tigers struggled to a 12-10 win at 1-3 Auburn. The good news? Most of the problems that have haunted the Tigers can be corrected.
"Auburn, with their backs against the wall, really had a very strong game plan and played extremely well," LSU coach Les Miles said. But in the next breath, he added this, "The key is us. We handle our opponent more efficiently if we don't make mistakes, if we're not sloppy.
"I have to give it to some youth, some guys who don't understand the position we are in and the recognition of what makes a very well-played ball game as opposed to that game, which was sloppy and gave your opponent every opportunity to stay in that game."
LSU had nine penalties for 80 yards and two inopportune turnovers that killed momentum, one at the Auburn 3 and the other setting up an Auburn touchdown after LSU had jumped to a 9-0 lead and was dominating the game late in the first quarter. The Tigers repeatedly gave up field position with penalties on special teams.
"In order to become the team we are capable of being, we have to become more disciplined," said wide receiver Russell Shepard -- who also plays on special teams, where LSU had penalty issues. "Learning how to take the foot off the gas when the whistle is blown. Learning discipline in the heat of the moment. Those are things this team is capable of."
Miles said some of the penalties called against the Tigers on Saturday were for things like pulling opposing players off teammates after the whistle blew -- "Not cheap shots," Miles said -- and added that the teammates would "enjoy it" if the offending player simply stopped at the whistle.
As for the turnovers, quarterback Zach Mettenberger was charged with both lost fumbles. On one, at the Auburn three, Miles blamed redshirt freshman center Elliott Porter, who he said did not snap the ball at the right time. Porter was in the game for starter P.J. Lonergan who was shaken up, but returned. Mettenberger said he also shares part of the blame. On the other fumble, Mettenberger had the ball stripped from him by Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier.
"It was things we did to ourselves," Shepard said. "Turning the ball over, offsides penalties, things you can handle and things you can stop yourself. That's the good thing about it, these are things you don't even have to watch film for it. You know as a player the things you can and can't do, so it's encouraging."
Lesson learned for Dworaczyk: LSU left tackle Josh Dworaczyk was beaten twice for sacks by Lemonier, giving LSU seven sacks allowed this season.
On both, the converted left guard said he made mistakes on technique. On the sack that led to Mettenberger's fumble, Dworaczyk went to cut Lemonier at his legs, a common technique on quick passes because it keeps the defensive lineman from getting his hands up in the passing lane. Dworaczyk failed to get Lemonier down, Mettenberger did not release the ball fast enough, and he wound up getting stripped on the sack.
Miles said Mettenberger needs to get the ball out faster, but Dworaczyk said, "I have to get my man down, so it's on me."
On the other sack, Dworaczyk said he got caught turning his shoulder towards Lemonier, a habit from playing offensive guard where that's a preferred technique because it allows the guard to quickly get his hands on a defensive tackle. At offensive tackle, however, it allows an edge rusher an avenue to get around the tackle.
"Playing guard, it's kind of an instinct I have," said Dworaczyk, who said most of night he correctly slid his feet on pass blocking to stay in front of Lemonier. "But you can't do it at tackle."
Dworaczyk moved to left tackle after starter Chris Faulk was lost for the season with a knee injury. Asked if he would consider other offensive line combinations, like moving former prep all-American tackle La'el Collins to left tackle and moving Dworaczyk back to left guard, Miles said he was happy with the line the way it is.
Montgomery honored: LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery was named SEC Player of the Week after getting 3.5 tackles for loss, including a safety and a quarterback sack.
The junior has terrorized offenses this season with two sacks, a team-high six tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries.