Click to See All Bob's 2010 LSU Tiger Football Postings:

May 14, 2011

Possibilities for LSU's Offense

An LSU fan exiled in Alabama has recently reminded me of one of the reasons that I started this blog in the first place:  "There is not nearly enough written about LSU Tiger football!"  While there is no breaking news in Tiger football, there is plenty to consider.  It took a like-minded fan-addict to remind me of that fact.  A special thanks to Mr. Lann - the self described Alabama Chapter president of the Bob's Sports Blog/Tiger Football fan club. Now let's talk about how the Bayou Bengal Offense may rise to the occasion this year.  I plan to write about the defense in the near future but, as all Tiger fans are painfully aware of the Tiger offense has a lot to prove this year.

Let's face it LSU's defense carried the offense last year to an 11-2 record in which LSU lost to BCS National Champion Auburn at Auburn by 7 points and to Arkansas at Arkansas by 8 points. One thing that is often overlooked in evaluating LSU offense is the fact that LSU faced some pretty good defenses - North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, and Texas A&M - and still managed 11 wins.   LSU had a solid running game but finished 107th in the NCAA in passing yards despite having arguably the most talented receivers in the country.  

LSU's wide receivers are full of potential.
Preseason last year I described LSU receiving corp as "Receivers Inc." and though LSU's passing game last year left me with egg on my face, the potential for great receivers to shine was and still is a distinct possibility. With the loss of exiting senior Terrance Toliver LSU will miss a truly solid wide receiver. Toliver was ranked as Rivals 2007 #2 wide receiver prospect in the country and was often described as the most dominate receiver in Texas high school football yet the only game that truly proved that potential in his time at LSU was his last game, a Cotton Bowl victory over a very good Texas A&M squad in which Toliver caught 3 touchdown passes. Toliver's lack of development at LSU caused him remain undrafted in this year's NFL draft. I strongly suspect that after signing a free agent deal Toliver will turn out to be a real success in the NFL.  While Toliver is partly responsible for not reaching his potential in college, a receiver no matter how good is dependent on solid quarterback and offensive line play.

No matter how LSU's passing game plays out this year, I am going to say it again this year:  LSU has the best receiving corp in college football.  There is no better wide receiver in the country than LSU's Rueben Randle.  Randle was Rivals 100 2009 #2 overall player and the #1 wide receiver prospect and Randle has shown flashes of genius at the position in college.  Russell Shepard was originally Rivals 2009 #1 dual threat quarterback whose true potential has been most often realized when his is given the ball with just a little open space.  If Russell can catch the ball cleanly with just a hint of daylight, he can reach his football potential at wide receiver.  

This year LSU will be adding Rivals 5-star wide receiver Jarvis Landry and Rivals 4-star wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. to an already packed-with-talent, ready-to-explode wide receiving corp.  LSU wide receivers Chris Tolliver, Jarrett Fobbs, James Wright, Kadron Boone, and Armand Williams could start for almost any team in the country.  Each of these receivers has break out potential and when you throw in game breaking hybrid tight end/wide receiver Deangelo Peterson, I think even I could connect on a few passes if given the chance to QB LSU.

LSU will not have to rely on its passing game because as strong as the receiving corp is - the running backs are even better.
Spencer Ware is set to lead the running game at LSU that will include a committee of serious running back.  Despite the loss of solid running back Stevan Ridley to the NFL -  Ware, Michael Ford, and Alfred Blue are all strong, quick running backs that saw some success last year while spelling Ridley. Each of these guys are over 200 lbs, hard to take down and have unique moves and running styles.  LSU will add two potential all stars to the running back mix with the addition of Jakhari Gore and Kenny Hilliard.  Both Gore and Hilliard have football in their blood: Gore is a cousin of NFL star and former University of Miami running back Frank Gore  and Hilliard is nephew of LSU standout and New Orleans Saints running back Dalton Hilliard.  Both Jakhari Gore and Kenny Hilliard have shown signs of being every bit as good as their older relatives. And Gore's style, as a smaller back, will require defenses to prepare differently for him than the rest of the LSU running backs.  Also, both Gore and Spencer Ware have proven to be sure handed receiving options.  Michael Ford also had a receiving touchdown last year, but that was more of a pitch out than a pass.  I expect at least one LSU running back to top 1000 yards on the ground this season just like Ridley did last year.  Also noteworthy LSU's second leading rusher, Jordan Jefferson, will be entering his senior season at quarterback.  Jefferson will not be the only "seasoned" player on LSU's offense.

This year LSU returns all but one starting offensive linemen with plenty of solid players eager to step up to a starting role.
Alex Hurst, Will Blackwell, Patrick Lonergan, T-Bob Hebert, Josh Dworaczyk, Josh Williford, Matt Branch, and Greg Shaw have all seen playing time on LSU's line.  While solid OT Joseph Barksdale will be the sole loss to the NFL for the Tigers, Chris Faulk may see quite a bit of playing time and LSU will be joined by Rivals #2 offensive tackle La'El Collins as well as two Rivals 4-star offensive linemen - Trai Turner and Corey White and Rivals 3-star OL Jonah Austin. This year if the Tigers need to they should be able to rotate in several very good offensive linemen but I expect at least one or two red shirts to be awarded to a couple of the incoming OL true freshmen with only Collins having the immediate potential to start.

As last year the big question is at the helm - Quarterback.
All reports last season pointed to a new an improved Jordan Jefferson who had worked hard and earn the starting QB role during the off season.  Yet despite being the a much better runner,  (I still think LSU would have beaten Auburn if they had kept letting Jefferson run first - pass second) LSU had no air game. ESPN shows that Jefferson finished with 7 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions last year.   By the way that TD-INT stat includes the 3 touchdowns and 1 interception that Jefferson threw in the Cotton Bowl.  I do understand the coaching dilema, namely: "how do you not start a guy who works harder than anyone else on the team, and shows all the potential in the world in practice and in scrimmages and who moreover is an outstanding role model?".  I want Jefferson to be really good and consistently good on the field this year.  I am a big fan of Jordan Jefferson competing and winning. I want the guy that does everything right to succeed beyond our wildest dreams.  The problem is that when given real game opportunities Jefferson has not delivered and it is hurting his team most specifically an outstanding group of receivers.  Several LSU receivers are NFL caliber and may never get the opportunity to prove it.  At this point no matter how much I want Jefferson to be the QB of our dreams,  I am looking to Zach Mettenberger to be given a chance to redeem himself on the field. Who knows? Maybe Jefferson can finally prove to be the QB that we keep hearing about in the off season and Mettenberger will have to prove himself next year.  I sure hope that Mettenberger is at least in the alternative plans as early as the first game of the season against Oregon.

Notes on Oregon:

  • Oregon has lost much of the interior of their offensive line which has caused some problems executing their up tempo style.  Particularly troublesome for the Ducks their key lineman, their center, has remained inconsistent.  However, word is that a solid prospect at Center will be returning to action after a 2 year mission trip.  I can't remember his name but this guy is a solid looking 6'2" 290lbs lineman who was considered a potential defensive interior line prospect because of his quickness and aggressiveness.
  • Several of Oregon's key players are from Texas.  QB Darron Thomas who finished the season as Rivals #11 college QB in Power Ranking is from around Houston. Running Back LaMichael James, ranked #1 in Rivals post season power ranking of running backs, is from Texarkana (Texas/Arkansas). Running back Lache Seastrunk is from Temple, Texas and two Duck wide receivers are also from Texas.  While no LSU players are from Oregon, LSU has several of Texas' former high school stars on our roster as well. LSU faced several former high school Texas standouts in the Cotton Bowl at the end of last year in Arlington and hopes to repeat a similar performance against the Duck Texans in Arlington this year.


Anonymous said...

Another great post Bob!

Give us more about the Oregon. I love roasted duck!

LSU's offense will be very good and JJ will either show real improvement or get benched. I have no idea which, but I know that the new OC is not married to JJ. If JJ does not produce he will sit.

That's why Miles brought in the new OC.

Texas Tiger said...

I agree ... another great column Bob!

I have been a Tiger fan for 53 years now, and I can't remember waiting for a season as much as I am waiting for 2011. LSU is again loaded with talent, and now we have an Offensive Coordinator that will utilize our talent. Kragthrope will put the best 11 on the field if it is JJ or Mettenbergr at QB. Personally, I think JJ will have a great season. But don't look for him to stay on the field if he isn't producing. LSU should be very strong in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. The talent base is there, as it has been for a while, but this year we will play up to our ability. It should be a great one for the Tigers in 2011!

Geaux Tigers!!!!

LSU Tigers Central Headline News