Stop me if you've heard this one before. The quarterback looks great in fall practice and is ready to lead the team. The new offensive coordinator is going to revamp the offense. This is the year the offense finally clicks.
Yeah, these are things that have been said about LSU's offense every year this decade. We hear big talk in the offseason, and then the product depressingly stays the same. LSU's rankings in total offense by year tell the story:
Well, points for consistency, I guess. The simple point here is that LSU has precisely zero credibility when they tell us to trust them this time because, yeah, this year is totally going to be different. A healthy bit of skepticism needs to be applied to any positive statement about offensive improvement. The coaches and players can talk until their blue in the face about how great the offense looks this year, and not a single person is going to believe them until they actually put some results on the field.
We're past the point where talking matters. Shut up and show me.
Now, are their reasons to think this might be the year that LSU's offense manages to go from crippling liability to merely mediocre? Sure. There are positive signs every year, and then every offseason we're looking at each other wondering how the offense ranks 86th in the country in total offense.
So what do we need to see this year to believe the improvement might be real? Glad you asked, hypothetical person I just invented.
It all starts with the offensive line. Miles is saying this unit looks like one of the best he's ever had, but the last time he said something like that, well, things didn't work out so well. But the offensive line last year struggled in three areas: keeping Mettenberger upright, opening up holes for the running backs, and staying healthy.
Other than that, they were great.
The team's yards per carry dropped to 4.28 last year, from 4.80 in 2011. That's a huge drop, and it speaks to the problems on the line. Now, it wasn't all the line's fault. Last year's team resembled a MASH unit, starting with losing Chris Faulk to start off the year and capped off with Alex Hurst walking away from football. That lead to a lot of growing pains on the job, which, hopefully, should pay dividends this year.
And there's that word: hope.
LSU has seemingly tried everything, hoping something, anything will work. They've tried a mobile QB, they've tried a pocket passer. They've heavily leaned on the tight ends and the running backs to make catches, and they've abandoned the middle of the field. They've attacked and taken risk, and they've been paralyzingly risk-averse. LSU's offense has looked bad in so many different ways, but the result is always the same: a team that just can't move the football with any regularity.
LSU hopes that last year was just a learning curve for Mettenberger, and there is reason to believe that. His second half of the season was better than the first half. He did look a different quarterback against Alabama, and then he promptly regressed in the Peach Bowl. So there's a reason again to doubt that hope.
Every year, there is an excuse why things didn't quite work out. Last year, it was the injuries to the offensive line. The year before, it was the Two Headed Dumpster Fire and the indecision of the coaches on how best to deploy the two quarterbacks. Before that, the excuse can be summed up with one word: Crowton.
No more excuses. The team has eight starters returning. There is a senior quarterback returning as starter. There is a line loaded with talent and experience. The entire receiving corps returns. The running back unit is deep and talented, as usual.
I'm sure there will be challenges. There always are. But this team cannot make any more excuses regarding the offensive production. It's put up or shut up time. Because no one is listening anymore, LSU is all out of credibility when it comes to talking about how the offense has turned it around.
No one believes the boy who cried wolf until the wolf actually shows up. Let's hope the wolf is finally here.