We all heard the talk all year, and we all saw that first glimpse in the spring, but on Saturday we saw the New LSU Offense™ debut in impressive fashion, ripping off touchdowns on the first three possessions and 42 points in the first half.
The attack was exactly what Ed Orgeron told us all it would be — a no-huddle, spread offense that featured Joe Burrow and LSU’s talented receivers to the tune of 350 yards and five touchdowns distributed across 14 different pass catchers.
And it went about as well as you could’ve asked — 6.6 yards per play, more than 50 percent on third-down conversions, plus a perfect seven-for-seven in the redzone, all touchdowns. New kicker Cade York even drilled a pair of field goals from 39 and 48 yards. Backups played early and often, with Myles Brennan spelling Burrow for most of the second half. The defense held a triple-option offense to less than 100 yards on the ground, and forced two turnovers from a team that had just FIVE all of last season.
This was everything you could’ve asked for from LSU, making quick work of a four-touchdown underdog in dominant fashion.
Our review is going to be a little limited this week. I watched this one while trying to manage a four-year-old. She made it to halftime, but in working to keep her somewhat entertained and comfortable, I wasn’t able to watch some things quite as closely as I normally would. And as I’ll be spending the next few days on a much-needed vacation, there won’t be time for a full re-watch.
But I was able to pick up a few things worth pointing out:
- Burrow had more touchdown passes than he had incompletions on the day. Just completely in command, and what’s great to see is he was more than willing to just take the simple completion on his outlets when that’s what the defense gave him. Fourteen players caught passes, and running backs caught 12 passes overall. Burrow was aggressive, but smart, rarely forcing passes and comfortable letting the game come to him. If he can do that regularly, he’s going to have a lot more very good games this year.
- Saahdiq Charles missed the game — likely with one of the mysterious suspensions rumored — but both Badara Traore and Dare Rosenthal found a way to fill in and the offensive line didn’t give up a single sack in 39 pass attempts.
- That said, the running game averaged just 3.3 yards per carry, which is not what you’d like to see, even with the offense doing so many other things. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of being a permanent shotgun team, although we did see some pistol and at least one snap under center in the first half. At first blush, it seemed like the line was getting some good initial push, but a couple times you saw blockers struggle to get to the second level. That’s a little troubling because the defenses are going to get faster. But a line that can get a good initial push has a nice first ingredient.
- Defensively, you could see how much trust Dave Aranda has in his nose tackles, because he definitely came out overloading Georgia Southern on the edge to try and funnel plays inside. On triple-option calls, the defense seemed very comfortable forcing the dive and just letting the linebackers inhale everything.
- No Michael Divinity either. It wasn’t surprising at all to see Damone Clark look very good inside in Divinity’s place, but Jacoby Stevens did a great job playing at the F-linebacker position as well, setting the edge and pursuing really well.
- K’Lavon Chaisson looks carved out of granite and ready to give defenses absolute hell. Matt Laroche is going to feel the hit that forced that second quarter fumble for a long time.
- Rashard Lawrence picked up one of the easier sacks of his career, oddly enough, on a play in which the quarterback was rolling away from him. Exploded out of his stance and was able to just knife right through the line as the left guard seemed confused on his assignment.
- It felt like John Emery might’ve gotten the fewest snaps among LSU’s backs, but he still managed to steal the jock off some poor Ga. Southern defender.
- The goal-line tunnel screen for one of Terrace Marshall’s three touchdowns — that’s a play that has become en vogue in some circles, and one that the Saints will run on occasion. I have to admit, most of the time I see it, I’ve never liked it. That said, the way LSU ran it I enjoyed a little more because they created a little more space for the defense. Burrow had an easy, clear throwing lane to the receiver, whereas you often see plays like that run in traffic. Also, that was the only play under center that LSU ran in the first half.
- Minor complaint on Derek Stingley as a returner — he’s a little loose with the ball at times. He made good decisions for the most part, and obviously he’s impressive with the ball. But he’s gotta make sure he keeps that ball tight to his body.
- Very aggressive play from Damone Clark. He’s a downhill linebacker who did a nice job of wrapping up.
- Myles Brennan looked a little juiced up in the second half at times. Maybe tried to hold a few throws too tight. That should be the kind of thing that will improve with time, so we’ll see what happens in future action for him.