Well, LSU has seen two top-10 teams in a two-week stretch, so why not two Louisiana programs as well?
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs come to Tiger Stadium, coming off four straight bowl appearances with visions of Troy dancing through their little heads.
When we talked up this season’s tough schedule, this game was definitely in my mind. Tech’s no pushover, and they’re going to come into Baton Rouge with their hair on fire with a ton of Louisiana talent looking to prove something to LSU.
Should LSU win this game? Sure. Will they have to work for it? Absolutely. And harder than they did against Southeastern two weeks ago.
Higher-shelf G5 programs like Tech, or Troy, South/Central Florida, Houston, etc... for the same reasons I laid out a year ago:
In these guarantee games, the home team can usually count on the lesser program to get a little overwhelmed from the experience and fall apart at some point. Troy’s not going to be that kind of team — you have to go out there and physically beat them. If the quarterback has time, he’ll go through his progression and make smart decisions. Their receivers will run crisp routes and catch the football. They’re not going to beat themselves. LSU’s going to have to take care of that part. And that means the Tigers are going to have to show some improvement over what we’ve seen to date.
Tech returns 15 starters from a 7-win team in 2018. They’re still an unknown quantity this year with just two games under the belt. The Tigers are better and more talented, but that doesn’t matter one bit if they don’t play like it. They had better be ready.
What To Watch For On Saturday
I consider the LSU offense still a work in progress right now, but a good, attainable goal for this week would be to recreate the hot start we saw last week against Auburn. That same kind of aggressive, yet focused, game plan to take the action to the defense. Not necessarily wide-open, bombs away, but the high-percentage concepts that seem like they are more Joe Burrow’s strength as a passer.
Don’t necessarily try and force the big play — something that I think Steve Ensminger was a little guilty of in week two — but try to make things a little easier for this passing game so that the talent involved can take care of the rest.
Mix some tempo and try to spread the ball around a bit like we saw early last week as well with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Derrick Dillon and Justin Jefferson all logging carries.
Sometimes in a game like this the offense can take the talent advantage for granted and try to press to make things happen quickly. And I think that mindset can create some malaise among the players at times. That’s something Orgeron and Ensminger need to guard against, while still taking the fight to the defense.
The Letter ‘S’
Through three games, if asked to pick some of Burrow’s better throws, the concepts that come to mind revolve around:
Slant variations — slant/arrow
Which is a concept that Ensminger has adjusted into a pseudo-smash concept by having one of the slot receivers running a slot fade...
— same concept as the standard fade route we all know, but from a slot position there’s a more room for the receiver to operate and the quarterback to put the ball into. And the defense doesn’t automatically have the sideline for help.
The offense came out with something similar to this Stick concept on the first play against Auburn as well.
and of course, the classic Snag, a.k.a. Spot, which has been an Ensminger favorite.
Let Burrow work the concept and work the field, and ideally, let the receivers do the rest.
Do NOT Expect
A Finished Product
Y’all, winning last week doesn’t mean this offense and this team don’t still have a lot to work on. Just like the Southeastern game didn’t lead to an automatic death sentence against Auburn, last week’s win and the subsequent fallout won’t make the Tigers the team we all want them to be today.
Would I love to see a big, stat-padding, impressive win? Sure. But I’m not sure this offense is ready for that yet. I expect some more mistakes. More fits and starts. Hopefully, less than we’ve seen in the first three weeks. Progress isn’t always a slow process, but it’s always a process. I expect LSU to take some type of step forward on Saturday night. Hopefully, a big one, But this is college football, and the path is rarely linear.