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LSU Is Not Losing To Georgia Southern

The triple option comes to town.

NCAA Football: Camellia Bowl-Eastern Michigan vs Georgia Southern Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

As the title states: LSU is not losing to Georgia Southern. This became clear to me about 10 plays into watching their offense in the 38-7 loss at Clemson last season. I spoke a bit this offseason about how the idea of having to prepare for such a unique offense right before the Texas game made me a little uneasy. Having to stop the progression of training camp, where the LSU offense is going to be running similar concepts to what you’ll see from most of the teams on your schedule, to prep for a wacky offense is not ideal. Of course, LSU is better than GSU, but the triple option offense makes you scheme up fronts and coverages that you won’t run against anyone else. Also, the Eagles won 10 games last season so they’re clearly doing something right.

The last thing I knew about Georgia Southern...

...happened 20 years ago so to say I didn’t know what was going on at Georgia Southern is an understatement.

To complicate matters, I went to the Army coaching clinic this offseason to learn a bit about the option. Jeff Monken and his crew came to Army from Georgia Southern after Monken led the Eagles from 2010 to 2013. I guess I just assumed that the flexbone triple option seen in the above Adrian Peterson run stuck around in Statesboro. In fact, it’s gone. In it’s place is a modern option attack that uses spread football tenets.

This is why I don’t see any chance of an upset and, for what it’s worth, S&P+ projects LSU to win by 30 points.

Their offense isn’t bad and it does help them win games but it doesn’t force you have to remake your entire defense for one week if you’re game planning against them. A lot of plays they run are what everyone else in college football runs. For all intents and purposes, this is a zone read offense. What they’ll try to do to find an advantage is to spruce it up with all sorts of bells and whistles. It can work, and does work, when the talent on the opposing teams defense is roughly equal. However, it doesn’t strike me as an offense that has upset potential.

The thing that I love the most about the flexbone offense is how they try their best to bypass the offensive line completely. While, with most run schemes, the five lineman have to work in unison for a play to be successful, in the flexbone triple, the dive part hits so fast that it renders the offensive linemen and the defensive front almost irrelevant. That’s why the service academies can have their height and weight standards and still create competent lines.

That’s the main difference between under center option offenses and what GSU does. The dive hits so much slower because the Eagles play in the gun. There is a 4-5 yard difference in where the QB/FB mesh happens. This makes GSU’s offense more zone based rather than veer based.

Flexbone Option
Gun Option

If you have an offensive line that can get some push, you’re fine. Like I noted, against teams with similar caliber players the line can get push and allow their backs to make plays. It’s a longshot for that to work against LSU’s defensive line. It certainly didn’t against Clemson’s last year.

The GSU dive will hit sometimes in the A or B gaps when it’s run from the gun. That doesn’t happen from under center. It’s always going to hit in the C gap.

Here it is being run into the teeth of the defense:

C-gap play:

The Eagles will still give you all the option classics (load, speed, jet, etc.) plus some added wrinkles they can only do in gun like split and slice motion. They are manned by a competent veteran quarterback in Shai Werts, he of the cocaine/bird poop affair. They’ll line up in funky formations. They’ll try to run the ball. I just don’t see it working at all. The pass game was absolutely dreadful last season with Werts being sacked on almost a fifth of his dropbacks.

With a ton of miscommunication like that, it’s no wonder.

I was really excited to get to watch one of the all-time option teams come to Baton Rouge but watching the tape left me a little disappointed. The nice thing is that most of GSU’s run game will be found throughout the rest of LSU’s schedule so the defense isn’t wasting much time having to prepare for something totally unique. They did show a couple snaps of the flexbone against Clemson so they do have it up their sleeve but it’s not what they want to do. It hurt them against those Tigers and it’ll hurt them versus these Tigers.