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What About the Wildcat?

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The guys over at the Dog Pound break down LSU's wildcat offense  It's an interesting article, and I highly recommend you go check it out (as well as the rest of their content, which is outstanding), but I do think it sort of misses the point. 

First, LSU is not a "wildcat" offense team (though, admittedly, they do not claim we are).  This is just going to be one look that LSU throws out there, especially to get Russell Shepard the ball.  Focusing on a change-of-pace look of the LSU offense is nice fodder for analysis, but that's not the LSU offense.  This is not the 2007 Arkansas offense (which was pretty lethal).  Crowton likes mobility in his quarterback, but we're still going to see lots of three wide-receiver sets and a classic drop, or shotgun, from the quarterback.

Stopping the wildcat better not be your top priority against LSU because you'll end up getting killed by the power running game and the receivers gashing your secondary.  Let's just say I don't see Charles Scott as a real threat to pass the ball except on a random trick play.  Crowton does love the sweep, but I really don't think we'll see a lot of the wildcat sweep, as the Dawg Pound believes.

What the wildcat provides LSU is not just a change of pace and a new look, but different personnel.  Washington doesn't have to worry about the scheme per se, they have to worry about the guys who will be on the field.  I'm not privy to LSU's practices, so I don't know who is in our "wildcat package" exactly, but it probably will look something like this outside of the five lineman:

QB: Shepard
RB: Williams
TE: Peterson
Slot: Holliday
WR: LaFell and Toliver

LSU can put a more physical tight end in the game for blocking purposes (or move Dugas from fullback to the line), but then put the speedy Keiland Williams in the backfield while designing some runs for the even speedier Trindon HollidayIt's not the scheme that will kill you, it's the personnel.  Especially because LaFell and Toliver will still be able to run routes as an outlet for the option and a defense will be unable to sell out against the run.

A wildcat package could allow LSU to rest some of its starters while still putting a frightening array of weapons on the field.  Maybe Shepard is not the player we think he is, but if he does live up to even a fraction of his hype, this could be a terrifying change of pace offense.  And once the defense is gassed from chasing that speed all over the filed, Crowton can send out the bigs and have Scott run through the defense.  That would be the plan anyway. 

This is all speculation as it is important to point out that we have no access to LSU's practices.  Hell, they could be lining Ciron Black at quarterback and we wouldn't know about it.  But after toying with the wildcat last year, mainly to emulate Arkansas' success with it, LSU might have a unique set of players to run it.  It's easy to stop the little x's and o's.  It's a lot harder to stop Trindon Holliday.  Florida's offense works not because of superior scheme but because of Tim Tebow.  You can try and defeat it through scheme, but the wildcat will live and die not by the scheme, but by the level of athlete on the field.  And the gap in talent between LSU and Washington should be the difference on Saturday, regardless of the offensive set.