LSU is known for its rabid fan base, its white jerseys at night in Death Valley, it’s punishing physicality. It has not been known for having a prolific offense.
Their last good offense, 2013, with the likes of OBJ, Jarvis Landry, and Jeremy Hill (plus three others drafted from the offensive side of the ball), LSU struggled to put up points requisite with the elite in the country. From 2011-2013, considered LSU’s last stay atop the CFB elite, the Tigers placed 40th, 13th, and 57th in scoring offense. The stagnation continued and eventually Les Miles was let go in 2016.
In 2017, LSU scored 27.2 points per game. In 2018, they scored 32.4. This year, after three games- an admittedly small sample size, they scored 55. What’s the difference? The Joes.
Joe Brady and Joe Burrow have revitalized this offense to make it the scariest thing in the NCAA since Dabo’s Death Star added Trevor Lawerence.
Joe Brady was an offensive assistant with the New Orleans Saints from 2017-18 before he was named Passing Game Coordinator for the Tigers. It’s a bit of a formality because LSU has Steve Ensminger as OC.
Ensminger was the TE coach for six seasons, then promoted to OC, then demoted back to TE coach before being promoted again to OC. He’s not what you would call an innovative or effective OC.
Brady is 29 years old and has two years apprenticing under two offensive gurus and future Hall of Famers, Sean Peyton and Drew Brees.
Burrow, a 6’4” 125lbs Senior, was a backup at Ohio State behind TJ Barrett and then Dwayne Haskins. He graduated from tOSU and transferred to LSU in 2018. It was no guarantee the offense would change after a near decade long level of big, dumb run the ball up the the middle and throw a play action nine route. It continued that way for his first year.
Burrow wasn’t much of a player in 2018. Burrow threw for 2,800 yards but was under 60% completion rate. He had 16 TD’s and five picks.
This year, he is already over half of the total touchdown number at nine with two interceptions. And he’s completing over 80% of his passes.
Here’s a taste of his arm strength, accuracy, and pocket presence. Also, these receivers appear to be video game creations.
Brady has implemented tempo and RPO’s to amplify their elite skill positions. Justin Jefferson, 6’3” 190lbs Junior, is leading the WR core with 19 catches, 374 yards and four TD’s. His compliment is 6’4” 200 lbs Sophomore, Terrace Marshall Jr. Marshall has 16 catches for 229 yards and six (6!) touchdowns.
In the backfield Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a 5’8” (or 9” depending on which service you choose), 212lbs JR has is averaging over four yards per carry. He has four touchdowns, as well. It’s worth noting that Burrow is the second leading rusher in this offense with 40 yards on 17 carries.
If there is a weakness in this offense, it’s a lack of productivity on the ground. Of the 1,600+ total yards, only 346 are rushing. They have thrown the ball 111 times to 97 attempts running. 28 first downs have come on the grounds, 50 are through the air.
Maybe it’s not a weakness. Maybe they are just really, really good throwing the ball so they don’t want to run it.
It is all made possible by four returning starters on the OL, which combine for 88 career starts through the third game in the 2019 season.
LSU’s offense is loaded with talent, Ensminger may be the OC, but the difference is the dynamism brought by Brady. In many ways, CFB is the innovator to the NFL game, but this time around an NFL mind has opened up the LSU passing game and honed the elite skills of Joe Burrow.