Ron Higgins: LSU’s offense is running on a treadmill, so don’t confuse activity for achievement

PHOTO by Jonathan Mailhes

The happiest kid in Tiger Stadium on Saturday night was an LSU student who won a year’s supply of Cane’s Chicken Fingers.

During a break in the action in LSU’s 34-7 offensive snooze-fest win over McNeese State, the camera panned the crowd looking for a wild and crazy person.

All the winner did was take his shirt off and scream.

It’s the same thing Ed Orgeron did in his first head coaching job at Ole Miss from 2005 to 2007. He wanted his team to have a physical, fighting mindset, so he’d rip his shirt off and challenge his players to a fight.

That’s the Ed Orgeron that needs to show up pronto as head coach of an LSU team that has a Charmin-soft offense with a newbie offensive braintrust.

It’s an offense that stuggled to put up 30-plus points and 300 yards on an average to below average Division 1-AA.

And it doesn’t matter if it has a full complement of starting offensive linemen as it did in the season opening loss at UCLA or have three injured starters sidelined vs. McNeese State, it is a plodding O-line that can’t pass protect or run block consistency.

Which leads to unfavorable down-and-distance for new offensive coordinator Jake “No Re” Peetz, who is forced to try any play that could work without pass protection or run blocking.

It’s not like Orgeron didn’t see this coming. LSU’s defensive line held the upper hand on the offensive line in preseason scrimmages. He always believed it happened because of the Tigers’ supposedly tough defensive front.

“We changed the protections in scrimmages, we put a tight end and back in there (to help block), so we’ve been trying several things,” Orgeron said. “All these routes and all these good receivers running downfield, if we can’t protect the quarterback it’s not going to work.”

Maybe because of that, Peetz was initially skittish to dial up passing plays. Ten of LSU’s 16 first-quarter plays were runs.

“We’ve got to get it going earlier,” said Tigers’ receiver Kayshon Boutte, who had 31 receiving yards and two TDs. “I felt like as an offense we start slow every game. When we get SEC play, we’ve got to start fast.

“I feel like we can make better calls at the beginning of the game and just start faster, read the defensive schemes and come up with good offensive plays to execute.”

LSU was just 4 of 16 in third down conversions, something Tigers’ quarterback Max Johnson noted was playcall-related as much as anything.

“We started slow, we called some of the same calls (as last week) but we’ve got to it figure out, bring more diversity,” Johnson said.

After LSU ran for just 49 rushing yards on 25 carries in the UCLA loss, Orgeron said he wanted to see a variety of runs called through different formations, motions and shifts with outside runs and inside runs.”

He got those running plays called Saturday, but they weren’t overwhelming in its execution. LSU’s running backs this season so far have demonstrated no ability to bounce or spin outside.

The fact Orgeron sees a deficiency with his team – this game it was Boutte not getting enough balls thrown and then mentions it needs to be corrected – is the tip of a bigger problem.

If Orgeron sees something wrong in a game, he should correct it in-game or at halftime, and not wait until his postgame press conference,

Until he and his young coaches change that, the 2021 football Tigers are clearly in trouble once SEC play starts for LSU on Sept. 27 at Mississippi State.

3 Comments

  1. ER — Central Michigan is no pushover for THIS “team.” Admittedly, a total of 22 LSU players were not suited up on Saturday — and, admittedly, we were all surprised to learn that John Emery would not likely qualify or that BOTH freshman RBs were held out of the UCLA game, or that Armani Goodwin would have to leave the McNeese game after showing that he CAN and WILL break runs. We watched Jaray Jenkins drop TWO passes, and other WRs not used to the right-handed QB ? also have drops. Until there are OLs who can pass protect it will be hard to throw the ball downfield successfully. Weird that these fifth and sixth year OLs are so out of shape and unable to block — but then again we DID change OL coaches in midyear (effectively that damned the defense last year, because of the absence of spring practice in 2020). But the real problem is that nobody on the OL is a take charge leader — not even Deculus for whom we had hope.

  2. Much was made over the many passing drills the receivers ran prior to 2019 which worked to greatly reduce the number of dropped passes. So what’s up now? Did they drop all of those drills? Last year showed more drops and this year any sign of past improvements is gone. Also, our All American CB’s try to “bump” opponents out of bounds – can you really say UCLA broke a lot of tackles when no one even tried to wrap them up?

  3. Offense line is a joke that come of the filed and the coach shows what they are doing wrong with a chalk board and the players still do the same thing over and over. This needs to be fix like yesterday.

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