BATON ROUGE, La. — Much of the offseason focus has been on what LSU’s new-look offense would look like.
No, the Tigers didn’t become a run-and-gun team. Instead, they inserted a heavy dosage of passing throughout the spring so that they could devise a balanced offensive attack, which was very much evident during the spring game on Saturday.
LSU starting quarterback Brandon Harris finished the contest 11-for-16 for 106 yards, as the Tigers attempted 30 passes. Running back Leonard Fournette carried the rock eight times for 49 yards and the game’s first touchdown, and the team amassed 35 rushing attempts in all.
The balanced attack yielded steady production from the LSU offense.
“I think we needed to improve on things this spring,” Les Miles said after the game. “We’ve given a lot of time to the passing game, and I think we proved. I like where our quarterbacks are at. We’re improving there, and I like the path we’re on.”
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Passing game … still developing: Brandon Harris opened and closed the game with a lot of success, but the passing game remains a work in process. The Tigers did not have much success passing down the field, with the exception of Dee Anderson‘s 70-yard grab from Danny Etling in the second frame. Harris was superb in the short passing game, though, which opened up opportunities for LSU’s wide receivers to make plays on the outside and created space for the running game.
Leonard Fournette in rare spring form: The junior running back received four carries on the Purple team’s first series, then it seemed like his day was over. He returned — and in a big way — with four more carries, including a 2-yard burst into the end zone for the first LSU touchdown of the afternoon. Fournette finished the game with a team-high 49 yards rushing and a 6.1 yards per carry average.
Dave Aranda’s new defensive pieces shine: This was the first we’ve seen from the first-year defensive coordinator after a spring of mixing and matching. Second-year defensive end Isaiah Washington, now a stand-up outside backer in the 3-4 scheme, snared a tipped pass for an interception in the first quarter off Etling.
We expected to see a new-look offense that relied on an equal split between passing and rushing, and that’s precisely what we got.
The LSU offense opened up through the air but turned to its bread and butter at the end of the opening quarter. Leonard Fournette found holes in the first-team defense and punched it in from two yards out as the first frame expired to give Purple a 10-0 lead.
Purple: Trent Domingue 42-yard FG (10:44)
Purple: Leonard Fournette 2-yard TD run (0:00)
The downfield passing game remained a challenge for the LSU offense, but Danny Etling and Dee Anderson proved to be an exception at the start of the second quarter.
The backup quarterback found the true freshman for a 70-yard score down the sideline to provide a glimpse of electricity and extend Purple’s lead to 17 early on. It marked the longest play in the game to that point.
Purple: Danny Etling 70-yard touchdown pass to Dee Anderson (14:50)
LSU’s first-team offense got one look on the field, but made the most of the opportunity. Harris found his go-to receiver, Malachi Dupre, a handful of times, before handing the rock off to Bry’Kiethon Mouton near the goal line. The fullback rumbled his way for the score to put White on the board for the first time.
White: Bry’Kiethon Mouton 6-yard touchdown run (3:05)
The backups saw extensive action as the game wound down.
Coach Les Miles and the players will speak with the media after the game. The Tigers resume practice in the summer as they welcome the rest of their 2016 signing class to the fold. Additionally, plenty of injured players will resume practicing then, as well as some players that did not get to participate in the spring program.