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May 19, 2011

Q&A with Bob: LSU Football 2011 Early Preseason

LSU's Spring game has passed into memory.  Tiger nation eagerly anticipates the return to football later this Summer.  But real Tiger fans have never stopped thinking about the Mad Hatter and our Bayou Bengals.  From the emails that I am receiving, expectations are at an all time high.  Most fans that have written so far have predicted at most one or two losses for the Tigers and few doubt that the Tigers have what it takes to contend for another BCS National Title.  I have done my best to keep up with returning email responses and answer questions about the Tigers with my best answers.  I thought I might share some of the more frequent and interesting questions and answers with you.

What do you think new Offensive Coordinator Steve Kragthorpe should do to get the offense going?
First Answer:  
I could give you the obvious answer - "Do everything in his power to make sure that Jordan Jefferson repeats his Cotton Bowl performance in every game this season and have both backup QBs ready to step in and take over if that fails."  Really, that is the short answer.  I think we could all sleep well with Jefferson throwing 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, rushing for 67 yards and another touchdown each game in 2011, or on average.  Sound crazy?  Oregon QB Darron Thomas threw 30 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions and rushed for nearly 500 yards last year.  While that is not quite the standard of Jefferson's Cotton Bowl performance, I think Jefferson is capable of that kind of performance every game and more importantly, he has the offensive team around him to achieve even more.

Second Thought:
Do something wild and crazy! Isn't that part of what college is all about?  I wish Coach Kragthorpe would dedicate one quarter to craziness.  Dedicate the quarter to Les Miles - "the Mad Hatter".  What if Kragthorpe set aside either the second quarter or the third quarter to trick plays, gadget plays, and never punting, no matter what.  Think about it.  Teams adjust their game plan during halftime. What does a team do with a team that plays the second or third quarter with a goal of unpredictability?  Normally this kind of thinking would have no chance but with the talent that LSU has on offense, it could work.  LSU has an intelligent, experienced, and very capable offensive line this year.  On the field almost every offensive down this year LSU will have three or four guys that have thrown for more than 1000 yards in a season.  Wide receivers Russell Shepard and Rueben Randle, and running back Spencer Ware all played fairly well at QB in high school.  Only Spencer Ware has thrown a touchdown in college but the fact that all three guys can throw the ball adds some possibilities.  Shepard was the #1 high school dual threat QB in the country and that guy can catch the ball but he had really good averages his freshman year when LSU lineup in a wild cat formation.  Tight end Deangelo Peterson proved last year on the grass eating play that he can be an effective running back as well as an excellent hybrid tight end/wide receiver.  Spencer Ware, Jakhari Gore, and Michael Ford are all pretty good receivers out of the backfield.  So there is another possibility with one back or even multiback formations.  LSU also has three very capable QBs.  Maybe Kragthorpe could have each QB work on just two or three deceptive/tricky/gadgety plays with small variations and then rotate each QB during the "Mad Hatter's Tea Party Quarter".  I know, crazy.  But, I am not sure how many more games my heart can stand of watching the offense sputter in a predictable way.  Last year it became all to common for Tiger fans to thank God for Chief John Chavis and LSU's berserker defense for stomping the competition.  To the offense's credit,  LSU could gain three or four yards in a cloud of dust against anyone last year and there were some spectacular spots of passing and running.  Still, open up the play book.  Let all the stops out.  Play Krazy Kragthorpe.  Just for a quarter.

What are the two or three biggest match ups in the season opener against the Oregon Ducks?
First thought: 
The key factor in the Oregon vs. LSU game is the rushing game.  Oregon would not have gotten past the Tennessee Vols last year without some big runs.  Auburn held Oregon to 75 total yards rushing in the BCS National Title game but still barely beat the Ducks.  It also worth noting that La Michael James caught two touchdown passes against Auburn.  If LSU can limit the success of Oregon running backs La Michael James and Kenjon Barner, the Tigers should have a great game. That is a pretty tall order and remember Oregon Darron Thomas can run and is a smart passer (30 TDs, 9INTs last season).  Oregon fans that may have the misperception that LSU has inexperienced running backs will be sobered to learn the truth.  LSU has one step shy of two or three NFL caliber running backs eager for the chance to carry the rock.  On the other hand, the Duck defense is a dominate, swarming style of defense with very fast athletes.  It is also noteworthy that Oregon corner back Cliff Harris is a burner that finished with 6 interceptions and a touchdown last year.  Harris also finished ranked one spot ahead of Patrick Peterson in's special teams final season power rankings.  LSU will have to establish a rushing game to beat the Ducks.

Second Thought:  
These teams are well matched.  Lots of speed all over the field.  The key match up may be game plan which means coaching.  John Chavis and Nick Aliotti are arguable the two best college defensive minds in the country.  Steve Kragthorpe is a wild card.  We have no way of knowing for sure how he may transform the Tigers.  And while Chip Kelly deserves his accolades, no one prepares a team and a game plan as well as Les Miles when given ample time.  I know that some will scoff at this notion but the facts speak louder than some misperceptions.  While at LSU, Les Miles has never lost a season opener and remember last year he opened against a very good North Carolina team and in his first season on the heals of hurricane Katrina after a change of venue he beat a solid Arizona State at Arizona State.  Miles' Tigers also traveled to Washington and beat the Huskies for a season opener and played and beat Arizona 45-3 in the second game of 2006.  Oh, did I mention that Miles has a really good record versus PAC 10/12 teams? The other times that Miles has had more than two weeks to prepare the Tigers for an opponent - Bowls - LSU has only one loss.  Coach Miles has coached the Tigers to five bowl victories, including a BCS National Championship, with only one loss to a Joe Paterno coached Penn. State team in the Capital One bowl.  It was a close, 17-19, loss on a very sloppy field.  But, hey,  Joe Pa is a heckuva coach.  Expect the Tigers to be ready.

I have been long winded, as usual.  So, I will get to a few more questions another time.  Maybe I will make "Q&A" a weekly thing.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No, you are not long winded. We're enjoying the frequent updates. Keep up the good work.

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