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Tigers poised for strong finish

LSU has won four of its last five games and has put itself in position for a strong finish.

The 24th-ranked Tigers (7-3, 4-2) can improve the quality of their bowl destination by finishing the regular season with victories at Tennessee on Saturday and at home against Texas A&M a week later. If they add a bowl victory to that, they'll finish with 10 wins.

But first things first and next up is a wild-card situation against the Volunteers (4-6, 0-6), who will be playing under interim head coach Brady Hoke after Tennessee fired Butch Jones and elevated Hoke on Sunday.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron understands Hoke's situation better than most do. He was named interim coach at USC in 2013 and again at LSU four games into last season. The Tigers went 6-2 under Orgeron, earning him the full-time job.

"(Tennessee) can't change much, obviously," Orgeron said. "I've been there. Obviously they're going to tweak some things. He's going to put his spin on it.

"But every game you've got new plays, new formations. We're just going to have to adjust. We're not going to spend all week trying to figure it out, nothing like that. We're going to study what they do best. We're going to stop those plays. The things that they tweak, we're going to have to make adjustments on the sideline."

LSU has gotten healthier on offense and showed good run-pass balance (198 rushing yards, 217 passing yards) in its 33-10 victory against Arkansas last Saturday in Tiger Stadium. The Tigers have turned the ball over just seven times, tied for second-fewest in the country.

The Tigers defense has been getting better down the stretch, but it hasn't done as good a job of taking the ball away as the offense has done protecting it.

LSU has 10 takeaways, tied for 111th-most in the country.

"Our ball security has been good on offense," Orgeron said. "We're not causing enough turnovers, and that's something that we're going to address, something I talked to (defensive coordinator Dave Aranda) about.

"It's a mindset. We have the athletes to do it. I believe we're plus three right now, which is an improvement over last year. We were zero at the end of the year. But when you get into the plus 12 and the plus 13 categories, that's when you win a lot of games."

At the end of September LSU was 3-2 and 0-1 and had just been embarrassed by a 24-21 home loss to Troy. Since then the Tigers' only loss has been a hard-fought 24-10 setback at undefeated Alabama on Nov 4.

"These kids deserve a finish to a real good season," Orgeron said.


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