Much improved LSU offense now faces SEC gauntlet
Is LSU eye candy or a contender for the College Football Playoffs?
At least a partial answer will come Saturday night in Baton Rouge against undefeated Florida.
On a sizzling Saturday in Baton Rouge, Joe Burrow continued his assault on the record books. The senior threw five more touchdown passes against Utah State to run his season total to 22. That is six shy of the single season record held by Matt Mauck and JaMarcus Russell.
No one could dream of referring to the Tigers as eye candy during the last three seasons in games against the Gators. In those meetings against Florida, two of them defeats, LSU has scored 19, 17 and 10 points.
Last year in Gainesville, LSU already had one touchdown on the board and was threatening for another when Burrow held the ball too long and took an ill advised sack. The Tigers not only squandered a scoring chance but some tangible momentum.
One year later, a missed scoring chance by the LSU offense wouldn’t seem to loom as large. The Tigers would just load up and march down the field on their next possession.
For the SEC opponents who appear yearly on the LSU schedule, the Tigers’ spread offense presents an entirely new dynamic to face. All teams used to need to do was hang close and wait for the Purple and Gold offense to self destruct.
In 2016 against Florida, a miscue on a fourth down call on the goal line cost LSU the game and a possible Sugar Bowl berth.
In 2017 against Alabama in Baton Rouge, the Tigers got the ball on early possessions at the Alabama 33 and LSU 47 yet could not score.
The opportunities will come again in October and November. Can LSU’s (dynamic through five games) offense make some magic happen?
The stats against Utah State were lopsided and then some – 601 total yards for LSU, 159 for Utah State. The Tigers held the ball for more than 41 minutes and converted 11 of 17 of their third downs compared to Utah State’s 1 of 12. LSU had 32 first downs while the Aggies managed just 10.
Against Utah State, Zach Von Rosenberg punted twice. The Tigers have punted 15 times this season in five games which puts them on pace for 36. Last season, LSU punted 67 times.
Numbers and more numbers impress. The LSU offense certainly has those in abundance.
Much can change on a fall Saturday in the Southeastern Conference. In his book Good to Great, author Jim Collins tosses out the following nugget:
“You absolutely cannot make a series of good decisions without first confronting the brutal facts.”
In the offseason, head coach Ed Orgeron confronted the obvious. In the big games, the LSU offense wasn’t good enough.
The early results of the transformation to the spread have been downright spectacular.
However, there’s August and September…and then there’s money time. That is, October and November against the likes of Florida, Auburn and Alabama.
Against the meat of the schedule, it is time to see if the LSU offense can deliver.
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WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM
Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…