I wish I had the tenacity and willpower to pen a 10,000-word thesis on the many offensive flaws that continue to plague the LSU program for five years now. It would be complete with screen shots and play diagrams and prescient breakdowns and pragmatic explanations and solutions. It would make everyone feel better. It would be rife with positive generalities, "So close!" "Just one player away!" "The coaches are on to something."
But I don't.
I've long held out hope. I've made countless defense after countless defense. I've defended Miles. I've defended Studrawa. I defended Crowton, even. Then verbally massacred him. I've defended Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson. The offensive line. Various games. Various play calls. Various plays. Various decisions. I've tried to extract every piece of positive energy I possibly could while believing something genuinely good was coming.
But I'm done.
I can't hold out hope any longer. Not if things stay the same. Not if the "status quo" is okay. I don't mean that in some irrational, "LSU SHOULD WIN EVERY GAME AND EVERY NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP" sort of way. I'm speaking very specifically about the offense in this post. There are various reasons LSU dropped three games this year. We could easily pinpoint the defense failing on multiple end of half and end of game drives. That's certainly a reason. But even I, an everlasting Miles defender, cannot say that is the reason.
Back in October I wrote that Les Miles needed to have a naked mirror moment. Three months later, little changed. The offense made some minor improvements, namely against Alabama, then regressed back to usual, pathetic form against Arkansas and namely, Clemson.
Look, we can blame it on any number of factors. Before this season, I firmly, firmly, believed much of blame resided in the porous QB play of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. I believed Zach Mettenberger would finally deliver this offense to the promised land. And by promised land, I mean not complete shit. Realistically, even with a defense that wasn't as good as 2011, this LSU offense only needed to hover in the 50s in national rankings to likely run the table. Instead... more ineptitude. Again, we can argue the various reasons and there was some bad luck involved (losing top LT, starting RB), but at some point the numbers become to compelling to argue. Here's the rankings:
|Year||Pass YPG||Rush YPG||Total YPG||PPG|
Each of these stats carries various weaknesses. I get that. But they still say enough. Those averages, over a 5 year span: 94.2 (PYPG), 45.8 (RYPG), 83 (TYPG), 44.5 (PPG).
For five consecutive years, LSU's best average performance is in scoring... and right around middle of the road at that. To take it one step further, they've failed to crack the top 10 in any category. They haven't had a single "great" season. This isn't a couple of good seasons dragged down by three bad ones. This isn't a great season dragged down by some average ones. This is a bunch of garbage.
There's really no other way to say it. It's awful. Dreadful. Miserable. If I put these numbers together and presented them to you as the performance of the University of Hawaii, you might believe it, and you would also tell me it's terrible. When you understand it's one of the most successful programs of the past five seasons and one with the most talent, it becomes downright baffling.
Going All Owen Hart on Ya
So something needs to change.All manner of blame comes to Les Miles on this. Frankly, I'm not sure there's any other way around it, at this point. We've seen two different offensive coordinators. We've seen four different quarterbacks. The offense stays bad. We cycle in talented skill and line guys. None of it seems to make a difference.
We all know Les keeps a hand in the offense. You're foolish if you don't think every coach at every school doesn't have a hand in the way things are done. We could all sit back and say, "Man, I wish Les would just hire a great OC, stick to recruiting and being the face of the program and let this machine run." But that's unrealistic. Les will continue to have a hand in the offense. And that's okay.
We don't need to re-invent the wheel. We do not have an offensive innovator as a head coach. That is okay. We don't need one. We don't need fancier schemes or even more inventive playcalling. We don't need to throw the ball 45 times a game. We don't need to run the ball 45 times a game. We don't need Russell Shepard to run the Wildcat. Or Spencer Ware. We don't need to throw out the option. We don't need to go exclusively to the option. We don't need Chip Kelly or Rich Rodriguez or Chad Morris or Gus Malzahn. We don't need any of these things to have a good offense.
What we need is what we haven't had for five years now: a plan. That's really the simplest way to summarize every struggle we've experienced for the past five seasons. Personally, I think that plan may start with starting over. Studrawa and Kragthrope should both be wished well. I think both are solid position coaches, but neither are exceptional. Neither has proven capable of putting together terrific offenses consistently.
There is value to consistency. I watched an interview with Chip Kelly on Tuesday and he talked about how important it is that they've lost exactly zero coaches in his tenure. Not a strength assistant, no one. For young, impressionable athletes, there is extreme value to providing a consistent, stable environment. It cannot be said enough. If I had to guess, Miles holds this in pretty high esteem as well (as well as a fierce loyalty to his own staff).
But sometimes a shakeup is necessary. Consistency is undermined by underachievement. High ranking recruits keep showing up at LSU and leaving as disappointments. It'd be foolish to think we struck out this much. There's a disconnect. LSU isn't going off a cliff anytime soon; the sky isn't falling.
Assessment is needed. Change is needed. Do the right thing, Les.