Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Joe Burrow
- LSU will need special teams and defense if it has a prayer of upsetting Auburn on Saturday.
- The offense isn't anywhere close to where it needs to be, despite coach Ed Orgeron's best efforts to tell people otherwise.
- QB Joe Burrow needs to make some major improvements, and in a hostile environment against a ferocious defensive front is not the time to do it.
Whoever coined the phrase “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” must have been an LSU football fan.
There is a new head coach, new offensive coordinator and even a new quarterback, but the same old issues that have plagued LSU offenses for the past decade are back in 2018.
The sample size is small, but LSU is relying on defense and special teams to compensate for an inept offense. Sound familiar?
Ed Orgeron preached that his offenses would strike a 50/50 balance. So far, the Tigers have run the ball on 63 percent of their offensive snaps.
Coordinator Steve Ensminger heralded his wide receivers as the strength of the team. The Tigers are ranked 114th nationally in pass offense. Burrow, while yet to turn the football over, has yet to flash the big play ability many had hoped for.
Veteran CBS announcer Brad Nessler told AL.com, “I’m not trying to put Joe Burrow down, but when I watch film of LSU, I see Danny Etling with a different number. It’s just another Ohio State transfer that can kind of manage the game.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
To be fair to Burrow, there were at least three drops by LSU receivers against Miami and he’s had a handful of throwaways under pressure.
Unfortunately for LSU, that means the receivers have been inconsistent and the offensive line is leaky.
While that may alleviate some of the early criticism of the graduate transfer who has only been on LSU’s campus for two months, it does shine a light of some of the other growing pains on a talented but inexperienced offense.
Heading into Auburn isn’t exactly a great time for the LSU offensive line to try to find itself. It might be easier finding a sober person on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras.
Burrow has been sacked four times and hurried six more. Odds are anyone reading this who is not an LSU fan did not watch the Southeastern Louisiana game last weekend. After all, why would you?
What you missed was Burrow under duress, scrambling and throwing balls away to escape pressure.
On a day when Ole Miss scored 76 points, Auburn netted 63, Tennessee scored 59, Bama tallied 57 and Vanderbilt hung 41 on Nevada, Burrow was 10 of 20 for 151 yards against an FCS school. Forty of those yards and a touchdown came on a Hail Mary hauled in by a 6-foot-7 receiver on the last play of the first half. That should tell much of the story.
Orgeron insisted after the game that he wasn’t holding his offense back and that they were “playing to win” against the Lions. For his team’s sake, that had better be a fib.
Auburn boasts one of the nation’s most dominant defensive fronts. In the season opener against Washington, the Tigers sacked veteran quarterback Jake Browning five times and recorded nine tackles for loss. That game was in Atlanta.
Saturday’s game will be at Jordan-Hare Stadium, a place where LSU has won only twice since 1998.
Despite its offensive struggles, LSU has done a lot well during its 2-0 start. Dave Aranda’s defense has been downright dominant, forcing five turnovers and recording nine sacks. Miami scored 17 points against LSU, but only netted a field goal through three quarters against the Tiger starters.
Special teams have dominated field position and graduate transfer placekicker Cole Tracy has been perfect on all 12 of his kicks, including two field goals of 50 and 54 yards.
To be certain, LSU has a chance to win Saturday at Auburn. After Kentucky ended a 31-year embarrassment at Florida as a double-digit underdog, surely LSU can bring a roster of blue chip prospects and future NFL draft picks to The Plains and steal a win.
To do so, however, it will take the same recipe with which the Tigers have won over the past decade.
The more things change, indeed, the more they stay the same.
Prediction: Auburn 24, LSU 13