BATON ROUGE, La. — Welcome to Ed Orgeron’s summer of execution.
No, really. He said so himself.
“The theme for the summer will be execution,” Orgeron said following the LSU spring game.
The quote brings to mind my favorite in the history of football.
The coach of the hapless expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, John McKay, was asked what he thought of the team’s execution.
“I think it’s a good idea,” was McKay’s reply.
Execution’s a funny word like that. It means things are going very well or very badly, depending on who is playing the role of executioner.
All joking aside, the Tigers need to heed Orgeron’s advice before September rolls around, or it may be his head in the guillotine.
The aftermath of the spring game leaves LSU at a divergence of two possible future paths. Venture down one and we will be witnessing the worst LSU football team in a generation. But if the raw potential comes together, a surprisingly strong season could await with the possibility for a massive payoff in 2019 and 2020.
Coaching-wise, Orgeron seems to have the right pieces in place. If you wanted offensive variety, Steve Ensminger’s got it, and we’ve allegedly still seen less than half of the playbook. You can also see the influence of Jerry Sullivan in the form of young wide receivers such as Justin Jefferson and Racey McMath who have rocketed up the depth chart after coming to LSU as raw prospects less than a year ago.
But putting the right guys in the right place doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll perform. That was evident enough in the spring game — missed blocks, botched snaps, bad throws and dropped balls were present enough to cause alarm.
“I thought there were some inconsistencies,” Orgeron said. “There are still some misreads, some missed throws, some missed protections. I told our team that we will be a good football team when we execute … fumbled snaps, people going the wrong way, dropped footballs, that stalls drives.”
If they carry over into the season, those issues could also stall careers. No matter how much some fans are wishing for it, Orgeron isn’t on the hot seat yet. A disastrous season could change that tune.
Beginning Week 1 with Miami, there is precious little wiggle room to LSU’s schedule in 2018. Not that there ever is in the SEC West, but drawing Georgia as the cross-divisional opponent on top of a visit to Florida makes life even more difficult. The teams on this schedule are too good for the Tigers to get by with sloppy play. If this team struggles at quarterback, receiver or offensive tackle, there is a possibility that LSU will miss a bowl game for the first time since 1999.
But if things come together in the summer of execution, the building blocks could be in place for an explosive offense that would truly take off a year from now when it has experience at virtually every position. The flashes of talent at each offensive skill position were evident on multiple plays Saturday.
“I told our team we will be a good football team when we execute,” Orgeron said.
He’s right. The question is whether it will on a consistent basis.
If the Tigers don’t, a majority of the fan base will be clamoring for a winter of execution.