What of the LSU Offense?

A few days ago, I read this at Roll Bama Roll:

The more I watch of the LSU offense, the more I think that it is really just too complicated for its own good. It can certainly create some issues for defenses, mind you, but it certainly does create a lot issues for the offense, too, and that was the big catalyst behind all of the false starts, the illegal formations, and the wasted timeouts. With all of the talent that those guys have, I really just cannot help but think that they would be better served just by simplifying the offense and letting all of the raw talent just go to work for them.

We've kind of flirted with this idea ourselves a couple of times over the years.  It's time to stop flirting with the idea and start being its steady boyfriend.*  

*This assumes that ideas are feminine, but it seemed more right than to say we would be its steady girlfriend. 

Let's just come right out and say it.  LSU's offensive system is an incoherent mess, and has been for a while.  We have incorporated parts of the spread, parts of the Air Raid, parts of the Nevada pistol, the standard I-formation, power football, the "check with me", and even the wildcat.  Heck there are probably elements I'm forgetting, or even elements I haven't recognized yet.  Our offense is trying to be all things to all people, and as a result I do not think we do any of it particularly well.

It's time to clean out the fridge.  There are a lot of moldy, half-eaten leftovers in there that need to go into the garbage, leaving room for all of the fresh, healthy foods to stay.  I think of all the things we may have learned this season, this is the one that Les Miles will need to concentrate on correcting this year.  Miles did a great job of correcting last year's problems, but the problems on defense were so vast and obvious that they masked the problems with our offensive system.  A lot of people believed the problems on offense were limited to turnovers, and that was certainly a problem, but it's time to recognize more systemic problems on that side of the ball.

Let's start with the pistol formation.  Nevada uses it every play.  We use a handful of times per game.  It's usually a straight handoff, a play action pass, or an option.  The last time I remember it generating a big play was against Virginia Tech in 2007 when Keiland Williams took that option to the house.  Youtube to follow:

Because we have not done much of anything with it since then, I think we could scrap that particular formation entirely without losing anything.  And what would we gain?  The center and quarterback wouldn't have to concentrate on a 3rd form of exchange beyond the standard under-center exchange and the shotgun.  The running back would not have to learn an extra way of taking a handoff or the timing of an extra kind of run.  The quarterback would not have to become accustomed to his drops and reads out of the formation.

I'm not saying that LSU should scrap Crowton.  I'm not even saying that Crowton should throw away his play book.  I think, however, that in every offseason (say between Spring Drills and Fall Drills), Crowton needs to sit down and figure out what parts of his massive playbook does he have the personnel to run the most effectively.  He should then show his results to Les Miles, who should then arbitrarily cut down Crowton's selections in half.

For example, this year I think we have the personnel to run single-back sets, shotguns, 1- or 2-tight end sets, and 3-wide receiver sets.  We have not shown much ability to run I-formation because we do not have the fullback.  We are not a 5-wide receiver team because we don't have 5 wide receivers who are really good.  This team could have cut out all the 5-wide plays, all the I-formation plays, and the pistol, and we probably would be more effective as a whole because we'd be running plays we're best-suited to run and we wouldn't be using practice time and player focus on plays we run poorly.

Next year, it may be different.  Maybe next year one of our fullbacks develops into a stud, and we go right back to I-formation, but in that case we could cut out the pistol, limit the spread, and again cut out the 5-wide plays.  Or maybe we have a ton of wide receivers who show they can produce.  Then we cut the tight end out of the picture on passing plays.  Who knows what the future will hold?

I just want the future to be simplified on offense.

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