Good morning, happy Friday and welcome back to the Bayou Bengal Briefing. Today, we’re going to try to explain how LSU can slow down Missouri’s offense, catch you up on some news, explore the world of sports outside of football and press rewind 38 years for some context. Let’s get to it.
The book on Lock
By almost every conventional counting stat, Missouri quarterback Drew Lock has been the most productive passer in the SEC this season. He’s thrown the most touchdowns, accumulated the most yards and attempted and completed the most passes in the conference. And this remains true despite the fact that Lock effectively hasn’t played a full game, thanks to sitting in the second halves of Missouri’s blowout wins over Eastern Michigan and Delaware State.
This is usually the place in the Friday column where I’d link to a video showing Lock’s strengths and weaknesses and break down the book on how to game plan against him. But here’s the thing: Lock is having the kind of season where nothing you see will be all that instructive in stopping him. You kind of just have to wait for him to stop himself.
Let me explain. Lock is having the kind of prolific downfield passing season that feels like it belongs more in the Big 12 or the Pac-12 than the SEC. Lock is averaging 15.7 yards per completion this season, which is kind of incredible, given that no other quarterback in the conference is within a yard of that mark. That number factors in a whole host of outliers, though; 46 of Lock’s 96 completions have gone for more than 10 yards and 16 of them have gone for 25 or more. But even if you take the median instead of the mean, Lock is still putting up a middle value of 9 yards per completion, which is really impressive.
A lot of this has to do with how strong his offensive line has been. Missouri is one of the four Power 5 schools to have allowed only one sack this season. The other three schools, West Virginia, Purdue and Minnesota, have an average value of 107 pass attempts this year. Missouri has attempted 170 passes. That rate of protection is fantastic, and is a huge reason, if not the main reason, why Lock has looked so darned good all season.
So, where’s the flaw? What’s the secret to beating Lock. Well, you kind of just have to trick him. Lock has a lively arm and likes to take a lot of shots downfield. And he’s good at it, too; Lock is completing 70 percent of his passes in third-and-long scenarios this year. But he’s still a bit underdeveloped in his decision-making skills. If you look at the three interceptions he threw in the second half against Georgia two weekends ago, all three of them looked pretty similar. Lock drops back, sees an open receiver and telegraphs a throw to the receiver, allowing a defensive back to make a late break and intercept the pass.
So, the book is simple. Deceive Lock and he’ll make mistakes. Also, don’t let him be impatient. 12 of Lock’s 14 touchdowns this season have come on first down. He likes to take shots early. Force him deeper into situational football and turn the game into a strategic one. That’s normally when he starts to unravel a bit.
Let’s get you prepared for all the things you need to know this weekend by catching you up on some of the latest LSU news from the week that was:
- Ed Orgeron said that recently reinstated defensive lineman Davon Godchaux might play Saturday
- Some other players, including Leonard Fournette, might not
- FootballScoop took some guesses as to who might be LSU’s next full-time head coach
- A former Tiger won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month award
- A walk-on has decided to transfer
- And, as a selfish plug, I talked to some of Orgeron’s former Ole Miss players to see what he’s like as a coach
Your non-revenue sports update
This weekend won’t be quite as packed with LSU sports as last weekend was, but there’ll be considerably more going on in Baton Rouge for those of you who don’t have tickets to Saturday’s game or just feel like being contrarians. Here’s a quick rundown of the happenings in LSU sports outside of Tiger Stadium:
- The volleyball team plays two home matches this weekend, one Friday against Texas A&M and one Sunday against Missouri. The team has lost its last four matches, winning just two sets over that span.
- The soccer team will welcome a high-profile opponent in No. 15 Florida this weekend. The team has been outscored 7-1 in three losses to ranked teams this season.
- Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams will be in action this weekend, participating in the ITA All-American Pre-Qualifying matches that lead into the qualifying matches next week. The men will be in Tulsa, Okla., while the women will be in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Hop in the time machine
The last time LSU and Missouri played was on December 23, 1978, in the Liberty Bowl, a game that Missouri won 20-15. Just to give you some perspective on how long ago that game was played, NFL Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow caught a touchdown for Missouri in that game. His son has since retired from the NFL.
Here are some other historical artifacts to make that game feel even more dated:
- This song was No. 1 on the charts
- Christopher Reeve’s first Superman movie was two weeks old
- A gallon of gas cost .79 cents and a pound of New York Strip steak cost $2.39.
- Oklahoma running back Billy Sims won the Heisman Trophy and Alabama won just its measly 10th National Championship.
- Ed Orgeron was 17 years old. Missouri head coach Barry Odom had just turned 2.
So, yeah, 1978 was a good while ago. Just one more day and the nearly 40-year wait for LSU’s chance at redemption will be over.