LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger passes during the second half of the Tigers' game against the TCU Saturday. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 04, 2013 10:51 PM
If the great, master plan was for LSU’s offense to baby-sit a young defense until it could be trusted, then so far it’s working.
It was only one game, but in Saturday’s 37-27 win over TCU the Tiger offense dramatically turned around at least one glaring but subtle statistic that haunted them a year ago.
Call it big brother offense with a protective arm around little brother defense.
It’s the simplest stat in the books. But, after some offseason tinkering from new coordinator Cam Cameron, LSU’s offense ran 80 plays from scrimmage against the Horned Frogs, a number they reached only once in 13 games a year ago while often hanging that veteran defense out to dry ... and sometimes wilt.
TCU ran only 54 plays.
Last season, even Towson ran 12 more plays than the Tigers did. For the year, even going 10-3 LSU had more plays from scrimmage than only five of its 13 opponents.
Most would agree that the LSU offense’s two most impressive performances last year were against South Carolina and Alabama, even though the Tigers lost late to the Tide.
That one was on the defense. LSU’s offense did its part by running 85 plays to only 52 for the Tide. Against South Carolina it was a 78-60 LSU advantage.
But more the norm was Florida, where the Tigers ran 20 plays less than the Gators. Even Towson ran a dozen more plays than LSU while losing 38-22.
It hit critical mass in almost ridiculous fashion in the Tigers’ late collapse in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Clemson set up the buzzer-beating, game-winning field goal with a 3-yard run to the LSU 20-yard line.
Even though at one point the LSU defense forced four three-and-outs, it was Clemson’s 100th offensive play of the game.
LSU’s offense ran only 48 plays in that game.
That won’t be a problem this year if the Tigers’ offense keeps converting third down at a 68-percent clip (13 of 19) as it did against TCU.
The average for last year was 40 percent.
Miles did more than just hire a new coordinator. The entire staff did a lot of soul-searching about the often-stagnant offense.
“There are some similarities to what we’ve done in the past,” Miles said. “But I can tell you that the call and the strategic timing of the call, the confidence of the offense to execute, think all those