BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU is like an NFL team that had a successful preseason, but knows that was a tune-up for what lies ahead.
The sixth-ranked Tigers won each of their three preconference games by double digits, and even though the opener was against preseason No. 3 TCU, it's the start of SEC play that's really the gauge of where this team is at. The opener comes Saturday night against Auburn in Tiger Stadium.
"It's like the start of a new season for us," running back Terrence Magee said. "We've gotten the first part of the season out the way and the start of SEC play is exciting for us."
Coach Les Miles would be a little more excited of LSU would cut back on its turnovers and penalties. The Tigers have just three turnovers, but in each game they have lost a fumble that has led to points for the opponent.
The Tigers are averaging nearly eight penalties per game afatr having 11 in a 45-13 victory against Kent State last week.
"We can't afford in conference play to make those kinds of mistakes," Miles said.
Several players said they expected to hear about the turnovers and penalties in meetings and practice all week.
"It's SEC week now so we have to be under control," linebacker Kwon Alexander said. "We'll get that fixed. It really is a smaller margin for errors. We need to be perfect. We're going to get it all together."
Miles has a near-zero tolerance for turnovers.
"We set a goal as an offense to have no turnovers (in a game)," Magee said. "Three weeks in a row we failed to do that. There's always an emphasis on that, but I'm pretty sure there's going to be more this week because we failed to reach that goal three times."
Miles is hopeful that the first game against SEC competition will help get the Tigers focused on fixing the few problems they have had.
"We're looking forward to it," he said. "This is the kind of game we need. We recognize the conference we play in. This is a very quality conference opponent and, again, our team is ambitious.
"They look at this practice week and they best look at it as an opportunity to improve because we have a quality opponent, this is SEC conference play. That is where we want to be."
The game against Auburn is just the first of five straight against SEC competition and eight during the regular season, a league schedule that features three top 10 opponents and five top 25 foes.
"We're a team with real designs on the back end of the season and the time to work is now," Miles said.
Notes: Strong safety Craig Loston (leg) is expected to play after sitting out last week's game. ... Linebacker Lamin Barrow (shoulder) was hurt against Kent State, but is also expected to be available. ... Cornerback Tre'Davious White sustained a minor undisclosed injury against Kent State, but is expected to play this week. ... Wide receiver Avery Johnson is out indefinitely due to an ankle injury suffered in preseason camp. ... Wide receiver Armand Williams is out for the season after fracturing his tibia in three places in preseason camp.