Offensive onslaught losing its shock value
Published 6:00 pm Monday, October 7, 2019
BATON ROUGE — So that’s the deal, huh? We now live in an LSU world where 601 yards and 42 points of offense is considered “methodical.”
By the way, that is not a critique from here.
That is straight from the gravel mouth of Tiger head coach Ed Orgeron following LSU’s 42-6 victory over Utah State Saturday.
And it kind of was. Methodical, that is.
Maybe it was just a testament to how quick and how startling LSU’s conversion to this up-tempo thingamajig of an offense has been.
This Utah State game was, well, it was somehow different than the fireworks filled first four games.
It was not just because 11 a.m. is way, way too early for any self-respecting Tigers to be playing or watching football, particularly in their home stadium, which still struggles to do a decent brunch under a high-noon sun.
You had to remind yourself afterwards that a real football game had just been played.
It was hard to put your finger on it. Some of us old-timers remember when 601 yards was nothing to scoff at.
Five touchdown passes by one quarterback is still an LSU record, but Joe Burrow has been doing it so routinely that it’s losing its shock value.
There was nothing wrong with 42 points, even if it was a season-low and didn’t always make efficient use of all those yards.
But the Tigers sometimes took three, four minutes to score, one time almost seven.
In today’s instant society, some of those scoring drives may exceed current attention spans.
Has LSU’s offense evolved to point fans don’t really start paying attention until 60 points is in view.
The way LSU chose to slow the game down can be excruciating to watch for a “hurry-up” offense. Yeah, they eschewed the huddle and hurried up to the line, but then sitting there and going into the meerkat tactics, staring at the sideline for further instructions until the play clock ticked down to their liking. It’s the football equivalent of baseball’s three straight casual pickoff throws to first base. Whatever.
But it says here that LSU got exactly what it needed in what was a perfect tune-up for what will be an entirely different challenge from here on out with seven straight SEC games.
It starts this week, complete with ESPN’s Game Day making an appearance on campus for a visit from No. 7 Florida.
The real season begins this week.That 60-point plateau probably wasn’t sustainable anyway. Still, nobody questions the LSU offense anymore. It will score points.The question coming into Utah State would have been if 42 points will be enough for this LSU team to win consistently in the SEC.
The LSU defense had looked as foreign to Tiger Stadium as the offense.
The 38 points Vanderbilt scored two weeks ago could be viewed as the canary in the mine shaft, even if only 24 were against the defense.
It was still Vanderbilt.
It was also suggested that a more reliable running game might come in handy over the next two months.
That’s why holding Utah State without a touchdown while LSU rushed for 248 yards was more encouraging than another 66-38 game would have been.
The LSU defense spent its open date productively. You already suspected a real defense was lurking in there someplace. Too much talent.
“We knew we had to get after it, and get better” Orgeron said.
And make no mistake, that Utah State offense was a legitimate test.
The Aggies weren’t ever going to win the game. But they figured to get more than 159 yards of offense, 64 of which came on two plays that were great throws and catches against pretty good coverage.
Utah State came in averaging 39 points and 533 yards of its own.
People who study such things say Utah State quarterback Jordan Love will be a first- or second-round draft choice.
LSU’s defense should get another lift this week for Florida with the expected return of starting defensive ends Rashard Lawrence and Glenn Logan.
Mainly, though, it was like they remembered how to tackle against the Aggies.
The arrival of a running game could have been a mirage. Those yards looked to be as much about missed tackles by a shaky defense as gaping holes.
Even with the passing game pyrotechnics, Orgeron seems to keep reminding everyone that will work as long as the Tigers’ protect Burrow.
But LSU seemed to go through its entire do-to list and check all the boxes with the meat of the schedule looming.
“We’re fixing to find out,” Orgeron said.