By now, you've probably read the Malachi Dupre quote:
"If they were recruiting me and they told me they were going to give the ball to Leonard, or the running backs 75 percent of the time, it might be hard to get a recruit at the receiver position or quarterback position,'' Dupre said. ''But at the end of the day, we're here ... we've got to live with it."
It's not a good look.
Credit the young man for answering a question honestly, but by the end of today, Dupre will probably wish he hadn't. Derek Ponamsky of Culotta and the Prince on ESPN radio in Baton Rouge attempted to offer some perspective to the statement this morning -- the audio is here, with the conversation starting at around the 10-minute mark. They noted that Dupre was asked specifically about being recruited to a run-heavy offense, and in later questions made it clear that he accepted his share of the blame for LSU's stalled out passing game. He also expounded on the receiver issues in this Advocate article as well. So there's a lot more here than just a "wide receiver complains about offense" quote.
And let's make another thing clear: both Dupre and Travin Dural were given opportunities to create big plays in each of the last two games and have not held up their end of the bargain with drops and other mental errors. It's not all on them mind you -- Brandon Harris was off on a few throws, and hung Dupre out to dry on one catch against Syracuse. But to say that there haven't been opportunities is simply not true.
What's more, drops are a reductive mistake -- they can cost you more one pass. A third down drop kills a drive where you might have had a few more targets. In the case of LSU's most recent game, the Tigers came out throwing the ball down the field. When that didn't work, they leaned hard on the run in the second half to put away a game that was closer than it should have been. If Dural and Dupre had made their plays in the first two quarters, they probably would have gotten a few more balls thrown there way. I'll go as far as to say that the dropped passes have cost both of LSU's top two receivers 100-yard games versus Syracuse and EMU. So if either guy wants to wonder why they haven't made plays, they need to look no further than the nearest mirror.
None of this is to forgive the passing game's lack of production, because I'm as sick of it as anybody and I want it fixed however the hell it gets done. But some things need to be made crystal clear.
LSU was overly conservative in the season one win against Mississippi State and eschewed some opportunities to open up the passing game on early downs. But that hasn't been the case in any of the last three games. The offense has called more pass plays, a wider variety of them and on earlier downs. In the meantime, Leonard Fournette is off to the best rushing start any running back has ever had in the history of the SEC -- the conference of Herschel, Bo, McFadden, Faulk, Cadillac, Alexander, Etc...
So ask yourself one question. What's the best way for LSU to move the football and score points right now? Not what will happen in future games, not what happened in past games. Right now. Who's the best weapon? Best player on the team? Is it No. 7, or is it No. 6 and the receivers?
Which brings us to the media narrative on Les Miles. It's been propped up by local media in Baton Rouge, nationwide and on this very network and it is a lazy, reductive strawman that has NEVER held up to investigation. "Well Miles just wants to run it 80 percent of the time because he believes that when you throw it only three things can happen and two of them are bad."
The same Les Miles that has coached Rashaun Woods to catch SEVEN touchdown passes in a game.
The same Les Miles that has coached two of the three 3,000-yard passers in LSU history.
The same Les Miles that has coached the only pair of 1,000-yard receivers in SEC history.
The same Les Miles whose teams have had the following run/pass ratio in the last 15 years:
LSU had its most run-heavy season last year because it was absolute garbage passing the football. It's off to a similar start this year because the passing game has struggled as well, although Harris at least offers some hope for improvement. How that comes is on Miles and his coaching staff to figure out, but let's make one thing clear -- he's not running the football because he hates passing. Miles has the best player in college football and he's putting the game in Fournette's hands. But the fact remains -- when LSU's passing game has been efficient and effective, it's had its time to shine.
As far as receivers and recruiting -- the chances will be there to put up numbers and they have always been there. Dwayne Bowe, Brandon LaFell, Rueben Randle and Early Doucet have all put up numbers here, and that's before we even bring up Beckham and Landry. Maybe they haven't been insane video game numbers, but they've been pretty good. Better even than some have put up in reported "better" offenses. All of those players took advantage of their opportunities. And if one of the current receivers on this team wants better stats, it's time for them to do the same.