Game One - A Look at LSU's 2018 Offense

Game One - A Look at LSU's 2018 Offense

ghost2
New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger will replace Matt Canada as the Tigers’ playcaller in 2018. So what can we expect from him against Miami in the first game of the season? In his January press conference (credit to Andrew Lopez at www.nola.com) , Ensminger said that he wants to play to the strengths of his offensive personnel, which in this case is his WR corps:

“I think we have to put three and four wide receivers on the field. I think we have to be a run-pass-option team. I think we have to be a fastball team. I think we have to go no huddle. That’s the direction that we’re going.”



Personnel

Though LSU graduated its top two receivers in Chark and Gage – the two combined for over 60 catches and nearly 1200 yards - they do have quite a bit of talent at that position. Stephen Sullivan and Drake Davis are their returning starters, and they will also get to play Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles, who had to sit out 2017 due to transfer rules. They have also added 5-star recruit Terrance Marshall, who looks to feature prominently in their passing attack.

Ensminger specifically mentioned running RPO several times during his press conference. As Miami found out the hard way with Richt and Brad Kaaya, installing RPO concepts with a new QB is not an easy thing to accomplish. This is exactly the position LSU will be in at the start of the 2018 season. Myles Brennan is the current favorite to replace the departing Danny Etling, who racked up nearly 2500 yards, 16 TDs, and 2 INTs in 2017. However, LSU also has two other QBs who could possibly threaten Brennan this Spring in R-Fr Lowell Narcisse and R-Jr Justin McMillan. Narcisse was a 4-star recruit out of St. James, Louisiana and was ranked the #9 dual-threat QB in the country by 247 Sports. If LSU is looking to move more toward a spread look with RPO and read-option elements, Narcisse might be the guy to run it.

LSU has another daunting task at running back, replacing their two leading rushers Derrius Guice (237 attempts, 1250 yards, 13 total TDs in 2017) and Darrel Williams (145 attempts, 820 yards, 9 TDs.) Rising senior Nick Brossette will most likely get the lion’s share of carries this year, but it’s no secret the Tigers are going to be thin at RB early on.

In the trenches, LSU also loses three offensive linemen from a year ago – both starting tackles as well as their starting center.



Scheme

If Ensminger is taken at his word, he wants to spread things out, go up-tempo, play lots of RPO, and distribute the ball to his talented WRs. Look for lots of outside screens in the passing game, especially early on, in order to get their new QB into a rhythm. Initially, I’d expect a “Rosier-esque” gameplan from the Tigers – limit the new QBs reads, cut the field in half, and if it’s not there early, get rid of it or take off. From Ensminger’s comments, it doesn’t appear he has much confidence in his RBs yet, understandable considering who they’re trying to replace, so it would make sense that they will try to use the short passing game to loosen up the LBs and set up the run later on. The strength of their offensive line on paper is their guards, so when they do run, look for an inside zone-based rushing attack.

It also wouldn’t surprise me to see some of Matt Canada’s concepts linger around, especially early in the year. This means jet sweeps, motion, and getting RBs and WRs in space as often as possible. It should be noted that in 2017 WR Russell Gage was the Tigers’ 3rd leading rusher behind Guice and Williams. I’d expect them to use someone like Giles or Terrance Marshall in this role.



LSU vs. Miami Matchup

To me, the key to this game will be the play of our LBs. We need to make sure Shaq and Pinckney don’t get caught peeking and that they are free to play fast both downhill and sideline-to-sideline. With Norton and McIntosh gone, I’d like to see some well-timed double-A-gap blitzes to help whoever ends up at the 1-tech in passing situations. Beyond that, I really think our front 7 is equipped to handle this re-vamped LSU offense.

As we’ve seen with Diaz’s defenses, he will blitz early and often and probably play zone on the back end to limit the big play. However, I definitely would like to see us use some more man-to-man concepts, particularly at CB. Michael Jackson has emerged as a top CB in the ACC and can run with anyone. Let him rough up Marshall or Giles a few times and knock them off their routes. Talented though they are, I don’t believe LSU’s WRs can run with our DBs all game long. The only WR that scares me on paper is true freshman Marshall – the others are journeymen, and although Giles put up gaudy numbers at Texas Tech two years ago, honestly, who doesn’t put up gaudy numbers at Texas Tech?

It's still pre-Spring so a lot can and will change, but the bottom line is still this: LSU lost a lot of yards from a year ago at QB, WR, and RB, as well as 3 OL starters. That’s going to be tough for any team to overcome Game 1. If Miami doesn’t get too cute on defense (always a concern with Diaz) I think we can hold them to under 14 points. And if Miami gets even a slight upgrade at the QB position, that should be more than enough for Richt and Co. to get out of Arlington with a win.



Way Too Early Score Prediction: Miami 24, LSU 13
 

Comments (32)

ghost, well done sir, agree with Bccrhp, no excuse for not whipping these boys with all the new players their rolling out. Do you know how man starters they lose on D, if our starter ends up being Perry i hope it's not like KD's first go @ UDUB when they just blitz'd the hell out of him the whole game. Of coarse he made them pay for that later
 
Good stuff. Two things jump out at me. One, I don't think Kaaya's struggles were about learning a new system so much as not having the skill-set to properly run RPO the way Richt wanted. You saw with Rosier that there were designed runs for the QB which Kaaya couldn't do, and nobody was fooled when he would fake like he'd run. The other thing has to do with playing zone. I don't get real deep into formations, but it sure looked to me like we got eviscerated every time we tried to play zone. Unless I'm wrong about that, I'd like to see as little zone as possible.
 
If this defense can show one look pre-snap and show something else post-snap, it could be a long day for l$u. There's enough experience at LB and DB (among the upperclassman, at least) to do that.
 
Good stuff. Two things jump out at me. One, I don't think Kaaya's struggles were about learning a new system so much as not having the skill-set to properly run RPO the way Richt wanted. You saw with Rosier that there were designed runs for the QB which Kaaya couldn't do, and nobody was fooled when he would fake like he'd run. The other thing has to do with playing zone. I don't get real deep into formations, but it sure looked to me like we got eviscerated every time we tried to play zone. Unless I'm wrong about that, I'd like to see as little zone as possible.

I think you're right on both counts. Not to rehash another RPO debate, but I think the biggest issue with RPO and a new QB is it requires a split-second read and decision that not all quarterbacks are savvy enough to make. Not even the QB run option, but even the simple "handoff or throw the bubble" decision.

And yes, we often gave up chunks of yards playing zone behind Diaz's blitz packages. Whether that was more scheme or personnel...well, probably both. There are some great articles on Diaz's "two-read defense" that places a lot of pressure on the safeties especially. Here's an old one: https://www.sbnation.com/college-fo...ssippi-state-football-2015-manny-diaz-defense

With rangy, smart safety play you can see how this D could work really well. We haven't really had that since Manny has been here. That said, I'd still like to see more man coverages, especially early in the season.
 
Good stuff. Two things jump out at me. One, I don't think Kaaya's struggles were about learning a new system so much as not having the skill-set to properly run RPO the way Richt wanted. You saw with Rosier that there were designed runs for the QB which Kaaya couldn't do, and nobody was fooled when he would fake like he'd run. The other thing has to do with playing zone. I don't get real deep into formations, but it sure looked to me like we got eviscerated every time we tried to play zone. Unless I'm wrong about that, I'd like to see as little zone as possible.

agree, we got ate up playing zone, we have the athletes to go man Manny just needs to do it, he needs to step his game up too, last year the other teams made halftime adjustments and Manny was to slow in responding. I really hope we get a couple those transfer DL's so we can have a good rotation up front and be able to create pressure for 4 quarters, that would make such a huge difference
 
If LSU does indeed open it up and join the 21st century, what’s the over/under on consecutive completions for their QB? I’ll start the line at 6.5.

Just kidding, not really but kinda.

All jokes aside, great write up. I don’t see them scoring a ton of points for all the reasons you listed. If our offense can start fast and score a quick 10-14 points before we stall, we should be able to maintain control.
 
Great write-up Ghost...looking forward to more. I'm hoping to make it to this game so it will be interesting to see how it goes down in relation to your write-ups.
 
LSU is going to play us like the last four teams played us last year. The qb position is still about getting the ball into your play makers hands not being the playmaker. It seems to me that after VT,ND teams figured us out on offense. Malik wasn't going to beat them with his arm. We can't let that happen again. Dorsey use to say if you stack the box you are picking your poison meaning if you do We're going to kill you deep.
 
Great write up Ghost.

I'm not as worried about the Defense as many others are, losing 4 great Dlineman & Malek Young could hurt early on with the continuity of the Defense, but due to the way Diaz substitutes throughout the game some of our backups played some meaningful snaps.

If LSU does plan on going 3-4 wide on the field it could actually be a blessing in disguise, force us to move out of our Base Defense & go to the Nickel/Dime packages.

However, I'm skeptical LSU comes out throwing all over the place despite what their new OC is talking about. There's really only 3 SEC teams that air out consistently, TAMU, Auburn & Ole Miss. Mizzou had record setting Offense last season throwing the ball, but their OC Heupel got the UCF job.

LSU elevated Ensminger from within, he's been there since Les Miles, maybe because he's finally the head playcaller he'll try to get more creative, but ultimately I still think their bread & butter will & always be running the football.

Simply put, if we stop the run, we stop their Offense. If I'm Diaz I'm taking McCloud off the field on passing downs & going with 6 DB's (3 CB's 3 S's) & I'm blitzing Amari Carter from within the box similar to what he did vs Va Tech.

The game will come down to if we can score early & capitalize on turnovers, we were literally the best team in the ACC & among the best in the nation in TO's last season, but our points off turnovers was one of the worst in D1 ball, we were ranked in the low 90's. Our 3rd down offense & red zone offense was abysmal (no exaggeration just look it up), if we can't convert 3rd downs & score TD's we'll lose & everyone will blame the defense like always lol
 
LSU is going to play us like the last four teams played us last year. The qb position is still about getting the ball into your play makers hands not being the playmaker. It seems to me that after VT,ND teams figured us out on offense. Malik wasn't going to beat them with his arm. We can't let that happen again. Dorsey use to say if you stack the box you are picking your poison meaning if you do We're going to kill you deep.

Kenny could read a defense, and he knew where the ball needed to go in all situations, he also totally understood his job was to get that ball in somebody elses hands, and yes he loved to go down field, but also had enough sense to check down if it was'nt there. Kenny was prolific at looking downfield and then hittin Shockey dragggin across the middle, we USED to throw to our TE's ALOT, just think a minute of the te's we have put in the league, nobody else even close. Why dont we do that anymore ? this is another reason i would love to get KD in here, he could help with offnse and be ready to take the wheel when MR retires, Kenny would bring this offense, whith these weapons, to a whole other level that Richt cant do, his NFL experience is invaluable, plus dude is smart as hell
 
Kenny could read a defense, and he knew where the ball needed to go in all situations, he also totally understood his job was to get that ball in somebody elses hands, and yes he loved to go down field, but also had enough sense to check down if it was'nt there. Kenny was prolific at looking downfield and then hittin Shockey dragggin across the middle, we USED to throw to our TE's ALOT, just think a minute of the te's we have put in the league, nobody else even close. Why dont we do that anymore ? this is another reason i would love to get KD in here, he could help with offnse and be ready to take the wheel when MR retires, Kenny would bring this offense, whith these weapons, to a whole other level that Richt cant do, his NFL experience is invaluable, plus dude is smart as hell


The guy is a great Cane, but I'm confused as to how you know what he'd do as an OC (I assume that's what you're hoping for). I think you're confusing being a good player with being a good coach. It's possible he'd be great, I just don't see what leads you to that conclusion at this point.
 
The guy is a great Cane, but I'm confused as to how you know what he'd do as an OC (I assume that's what you're hoping for). I think you're confusing being a good player with being a good coach. It's possible he'd be great, I just don't see what leads you to that conclusion at this point.
Six years a QB coach in the pro's looks to me like a good resumeto take the next step OC.
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
255
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
DT
6'4"
290
Miami, FL
DE
6'5"
210
Miami, FL
WR
6'2"
180
Miami, FL
RB
6'0"
225
Hollywood, FL
TE
6'4"
210
Frisco, TX
STR
6'3"
190
Melbourne, FL
S
5'11"
200
Miami, FL

Latest Predictions

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2020 Schedule

09/10
UAB
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Louisville
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Clemson
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Pittsburgh
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Georgia Tech
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Wake Forest
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12/05
North Carolina
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