Between last week’s coaches caravan and Joe Burrow’s recent comments at the Manning Passing Academy, LSU is definitely steering right into the hype skid of the 2019 offense.
We’ve been hurt before. Are you ready to hope again?
Yes and no. LSU’s offense was good last year, but honestly it wasn’t worth writing home about. It’s good enough to argue against the “LOL LSU offense rhetoric” but it’s not worth soapboxing until we see what they put on the field in DKR week two.
I’m expecting a perfectly vanilla 28-7 win against Georgia Southern but I’m not sure the rest of the fanbase is on board with that, so that will be a fun week that I’m extremely looking forward to.
I’m buying. As difficult as it is to let go of past wounds, and it’s very, very difficult after a decade of mostly broken promises, the change we’ve wanted is finally here. Why do I believe? Because the promises are backed in decision making. Orgeron hired a bright young offensive mind and it’s plainly clear he’s had heavy influence on what’s going on. This isn’t “Oh we hired Billy Gonzales to install Urban’s offense under Les but actually he has no power or influence.” Joe Brady is here and is already making an impact that isn’t “well he really switched up the receiver drills this spring.” He’s implementing tempo and spread passing looks. He’s bringing his own brand of what he’s learned from Moorhead and Payton and laying that on top of what’s already installed. That’s the real dream.
But even if I back it up entirely and O had hired Billy Gonzales to coach receivers, no one would be excited by that promise. Even then, this offense has all the makings of one that can absolutely put up some points in 2019. Senior QB, loads of skill guys ready to flourish, a good stable of running backs including a pair of superstar freshmen... the only lingering concern may be offensive line and even that is more a depth/configuration question than a “man do these guys suck?” question. They will be, at a minimum, passable.
So yeah, all the signs are there. Time to deliver the goods.
Why wouldn’t I believe? The person who wouldn’t change the offense and was set in his ways was Les Miles who, last time I checked, isn’t our coach anymore. Ed Orgeron has not given fans the same old-same old, and has tried to rework the offense every year during his tenure. Now, it hasn’t worked, as we’re all still talking about it, but it hasn’t been due to inaction.
Last year was a consolidation year, as the offense returned a scant number of starters and virtually all of its passing, rushing, and receiving production. And let’s give credit, they built a decent base last year. Burrow emerged as a legit starter under center, and the crop of receivers showed their talent, with Jefferson especially having a productive year. The pieces which weren’t there a year ago, regardless of who was the coach, are here this year.
Orgeron has wanted a high flying offense just as much as you have. It’s why his first move was to fire the OC. In his first full year, he brought in Canada, and quickly removed him when he didn’t deliver the offense he wanted. Last year was the reset, and he’s trying again with a new guy again. But there isn’t the organizational resistance to change which formed such a potent barrier before. The staff is practically begging for the change. Brady will have every chance to install a modern offense.
I get really, really excited every time I think about the 2019 offense... until I remember the offensive line.
The unit struggled mightily in 2018, but Burrow’s excellent decision-making masked a lot of it. They return four of their starters, but some backups also saw some action last year due to injury/suspension.
I’m not saying they’ll be bad in 2019, but I am saying I’m not yet confident enough in them to buy into this offense. I have more faith in our QB and receiving corps than I have in several years, but God I hope they have enough time to complete these fancy new routes.
I think fans have every reason to believe now. The head coach is a guy that doesn’t want to mingle with the offense, an offensive coordinator that has been open to the idea that our new offensive guru Joe Brady has brought along with him, and we have the offense capable of achieving this new style. I have to give a lot of credit to Ensminger for letting this new guy come in and make changes to his offense. I know that Ensminger is likely retiring as an offensive coordinator some point soon, but it’s a testament to him that he can be that open to his likely successor at that position.
The personnel we have is starting to resemble that spread type offense. The running backs aren’t just the I-formation run-run-pass offense we got accustomed to under Miles, instead it’s backs that can make any of the required runs. Even with our struggling offenses, we have somehow always recruited the wide receiver position well and now we should benefit from it. Finally, you have Burrow, who has that confidence that Mettenberger had when he was here and was a key part in one of the most entertaining offenses in SEC history. It’s a fun trend that we are currently riding and it looks like that momentum continues to grow.
If I believed and was ready to hurt again when Cam Cameron was OC and Brandon Harris was QB I sure as hell can when the offense actually has a good QB and a very streamlined and functioning philosophy.
New coaches aside, this offense already had a ton of things going for it already, as several of us pointed out. A returning senior quarterback, four starters back on the offensive line (plus a couple reserves with starting experience) and a ton of rushing and receiving production back. And despite last season’s rough start, the 2018 offense really did make some nice strides in the second half. Finished 30th in offensive S&P+ and, even adjusting for the crazy outlier of the A&M game, improved on scoring over the year previous (29 points to 27). That may not be what people want — and there is plenty of room for needed improvement — but it’s far from the worst adjectives people threw at the offense.
Just based on having a returning quarterback (that showed marked improvement in the final five games of the season) and a bunch of second- and third-year receivers that were first- and second-year guys in 2018, you’d expect a step up.
As for the Joe Brady buzz, I’m as over the genius/guru trend as anyone, but what we saw this spring was different, there’s no doubt about it. LSU spent the entire spring game in the shotgun, and not necessarily going full hurry-up/no-huddle, but definitely playing with a fast tempo with a lot of signals from the sideline. Even in a 21-personnel grouping, the offense was still in a spread formation with a tight end and fullback split out. Honestly, I’m still not sure I’d want to see the offense completely abandon working from under center or in two-back looks, but there’s no question that we saw something different.
But then, as I’ve always said, it’s not about the style of offense. It’s about the efficacy.