Let’s be clear, things have changed dramatically in the few weeks since Ed Orgeron became LSU’s interim coach. The offensive schemes have evolved, there’s more creativity everywhere and the passing game has generally been more efficient since switching to Purdue transfer Danny Etling.
But for all the changes and talent on the roster, LSU’s conservative and uninspired offense killed the Tigers one more time against Alabama, a loss that probably destroys Orgeron’s chances of getting the full-time job.
Obviously, Alabama’s defense is ridiculously good, ranking No. 2 in Football Outsiders S&P+ metric, only behind Michigan and just a step ahead of Florida. Regardless, scoring zero points is insane.
Alabama has only shut out one other team: Kent State. Even Western Kentucky scored multiple points against this defense. USC and Kentucky are the only other opponents to not clear 10 points. LSU mustered just 2.5 yards per play against Alabama, and star RB Leonard Fournette officially eliminated himself from the Heisman race again after posting just 35 yards.
Every team playing in the SEC West has to account for Alabama. That’s the target that every team is aiming for in this division – and nationally for that matter. With each passing year, it becomes more obvious: Playing power run against the Alabama front seven is nonsensical.
LSU has a good offensive line and even managed to get some decent protection in the passing game. Unfortunately, Etling was unequipped to do it. LSU’s traditional scheme took too long to let plays develop and kept the ball in Etling’s hands. It’s no wonder Etling was sacked 5 times and pressured countless others.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s unit held the Crimson Tide to just 10 points, well below their 44.9 average. Nothing more could have possibly been expected. At some point, the offense needs to evolve.
The only teams that have threatened Alabama the past few years have had open offenses: Clemson, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Auburn, to name a few. Teams that try to win with power, like LSU, USC and Tennessee, have gotten left in the past.
While “coach O” has been great for the program, LSU needs an offensive savior. Whether it’s an offensive coordinator hire, like what Lane Kiffin has done at Alabama, or an offensive-minded head coach, like Houston’s Tom Herman, the offense needs to be addressed.
LSU accumulated just 33 yards on 27 rushing attempts, which is barely up from the Tigers’ 31 yards on 19 rushing attempts in 2015. It didn’t even matter LSU had Fournette, one of the best running backs in school history. If Fournette isn’t enough to make a run-based offense efficient, what running back will be?
College football is changing and LSU must change with it. The receiver talent is there: Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural and D.J. Chark are one of the best groups in the nation. Either LSU finds a way to use it, or it will continue falling behind the rest of the SEC.