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ATVS Roundtable: Bye Week Grades

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The krewe assess things at the open date.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Dan

Understanding that the only metric that really matters is the 7-1, so whatever arbitrary grade I give is irrelevant... I’d say a C-plus.

I never really understood the preseason thoughts that this team might float around bowl eligibility. There’s too much talent. And yes, the schedule looked daunting, but Miami was overvalued and that was a big component of that. That’s still a good win, mind you.

I say C because we shucked off an expensive OC and inserted Ensminger and while it feels like the offense made progress... they basically put a paint of coat on an old beater and threw back on the race track again. Look, it could work out in time and transitioning offensive systems is not easy. But LSU’s offense stinks. Again. 98th in total O. 98th in YPP. 59th in Scoring. 60th in Offensive S&P+. Bad bad bad again.

Frankly, when you’re going to make big, expensive coaching changes, that shouldn’t be forgotten eight games later. LSU’s fielded a good, solid team this year. But it’s not a model that projects to future success. They must improve on offense if they wish to be a national title contender again.

That said, I’m enjoying the hell out of the season. There’s moments when it feels like we are about to hit that extra gear and become the dominant team we hope. But we aren’t there yet.

Adam

I’m liking it, but I struggle to give out a grade I agree with.

Not to become the “WATCH THE GAME NERD!” guy but that’s been the sentiment I land closest too. Nearly every game has been ugly offensively, but a lot of times I feel like O (and E) have never trusted their guys more in their careers. Brossette or Edwards-Helaire will spend ENTIRELY too much time in the backfield waiting for a hole to develop and gain two or three years instead of hitting the line and falling forward for three or four, Burrow will have a bad miss, but then they’ll run a 9 yard comeback round on 3rd and 8 and complete it. This team just knows when they need to either move the chains or force a punt, and when it’s time to answer the bell they step up. Sometimes numbers or metrics don’t tell that story.

Take this weekend, for example. LSU is about to land the killstrike against Mississippi State, pinned against their own endzone before three personal foul penalties are wrongfully assessed for a 45-yard gain. All of a sudden, with over five minutes left State has the ball in LSU territory with a very real chance to get back into the game. Interception. Run clock, and get another interception to seal it. It’s ugly and a dangerous way to play a season’s worth of football games, but 7-1 against this schedule isn’t as much as a fluke as people make it out to seem.

It’s a formula that shouldn’t work, but it has worked enough for them to lean on their defense. I would like to see, in order, a healthy offensive line, confident running backs, an actual feature receiver, and more consistency from Burrow, but that’s about it. My qualms with the offense are merely performance based, which in a twisted way is refreshing. At least those can be fixed by a week-to-week basis.

So if anything, I’d go...B-minus.

Billy

Right now I feel comfortable going B-plus with the option to raise or lower things based on how these final four games go.

We all knew the limitations this team had coming in. New quarterback, young and unproven playmakers, facing a daunting schedule. Yeah, I thought the six- or seven-win projections seemed dramatic, but I damn sure didn’t think this team would be 7-1 by this point. Not with Miami, Auburn and Georgia all on the slate.

In the process, LSU lost multiple offensive linemen for significant stretches and has nearly started a different lineup in each game. That’s not nothing. On top of that, the defense lost its best pass-rusher in week one. Yeah, I think we all expected some things to be different -- Jonathan Giles hasn’t been the offensive constant we all expected, and none of the freshmen have emerged as a consistent big-play threat to date. But the running game has been better than expected, and the passing game could be close. Yeah, kicking a lot of field goals isn’t fun, but LSU’s offense is one of the 10 best in the country at getting *into* the red zone. That’s pretty good, and I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest the touchdown rate will increase down the stretch.

Seven wins right now looks like a safe bet to get to nine and should get to 10 one way or another. That’s nice progress. But just like after this season, Ed Orgeron will have to continue to move things forward.

Seth

The play on the field is a “C” but watching them as a fan has been an A+.

I just get nervous every week waiting for the wheels to fall off. As everyone has noted above me, this offense is BAD. 97th in marginal efficiency on standards downs which means a lot of passing downs where we’re 114th overall. An LSU team in the 100’s in any stat category with all the talent they recruit is awful. Since 2015, this is shaping up to be the worst offense by a little bit and we complained mightily about those offenses.

The quarterback and the offensive line are the main culprits. Obviously, if we ever get healthy on the line that will help. Burrow is probably not the savior. I haven’t done a deep dive via the film but overall his numbers are really not good.

Where LSU gets by right now is with another awesome defense and surprising special teams play. Cole Tracy has been excellent but their punt and kickoff teams have been good too. Would be nice if Giles gave us something on punt returns, though.

This is probably where I would have expected LSU’s stats to be based on their performance but I certainly didn’t expect them to be 7-1 right now. The team is better than the “will fight to be bowl eligible” but it’s also not the “we’re a New Years 6 Bowl” team either.

Crissy

With one of the toughest schedules in the country, I did not expect to see LSU at 7-1 right now. If the receivers could have come up with any one of the opportunities given to them in the final minutes of the Florida game, I think the Tigers would be undefeated right now. That being said, I’d give the performance on the field a C.

This offense is not good, and there’s no sugarcoating that. The stats others have provided here illustrate that. If the defense were any less stout than it is, this team would probably finish the season with the initially predicted five or six wins. We need to see more consistency from the receiving corps, and more out of the offensive line. As for Burrow, I’m hesitant to hop on the bandwagon after just eight games. He’s certainly brought an element of aggression to this offense that we haven’t seen in a long time, and is easy to trust as a passer. I spoke to his “hidden mobility” earlier on in the year before he transferred, and that’s something that’s really helped the ground game. Burrow has contributed just as much to the run as the running backs do, finishing some contests as the leading rusher. Burrow has the ability to evolve into something great, but I’m not going to put him there yet.

As previously mentioned, the effort by special teams this season is a welcomed surprise. Cole Tracy has become an instant star, and the punting and kickoff teams have far exceeded the expectations as well. This is a team that’s steadily improved every week, but they’re nowhere near the caliber of a team that can contend with Alabama as it stands.

Poseur

Look, at the end of the day, you are what your record says you. This is a bottom line business, and we can talk about process or graduating kids or even being a nice guy, but at the end of the day, boosters are paying for wins and losses. Was the 2016 team “better” than this team? Absolutely. They also lost four games.

Frankly, what this team has been able to do with these resources against this schedule is nothing short of remarkable. LSU lost virtually all of its offensive production from last season, as well as half of its offensive line. The defense lost two cornerbacks as well as four of the top five leaders in sacks. We can make fun of the preseason projections (and by God, I’m going to continue to make a meal of it), but they weren’t wholly unreasonable. LSU was flat out gutted by attrition, and that’s before we got to the offseason from hell.

LSU has gone 7-1 against one of the most difficult schedules in the country, and they’ve done so while mix and matching their offensive line the entire way. The coaching staff is still trying to find its most productive wide receivers and tinkering with the front seven. To be doing that and still be 7-1 is shocking. To downgrade this team for winning while also trying to figure out how they are going to fill the rather massive holes in the roster seems to me to be missing the point. The job this staff and these players are doing is remarkable precisely because of the difficulties this team has faced, and that’s even before we get into a schedule that would make even a good team wilt.

Okay, they lost to Florida, and that sucks. This team is probably better than Florida, but they put forth a great effort that day and managed to steal a win because Feleipe Franks suddenly became competent. And while y’all are talking about sustainability, as are plenty of others, LSU has only won one game decided by less than 10 points (State and Miami tie for the second narrowest win.... 16 points). These haven’t been nail biters. LSU is winning convincingly. At this point? This team has a solid A.

But they gotta beat Bama to keep it. The big exam is coming.