Getting To Know The LSU Offense
When Clemson and LSU face off in New Orleans on January 13th, the college football world will be treated to a matchup pitting the nation's two best signal callers against one another. Barring something unforeseen, it appears that LSU's Joe Burrow will be the top QB taken in April's draft and Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence will go number one overall in 2021.
When you look at this LSU team, there's no questioning the fact that it's driven by quarterback play. After transferring from Ohio State, Joe Burrow was considered just another QB after his first year starting for LSU. In 2018, Burrow threw for 2894 yards, completing 58% of his passes, with 16 TDs and five interceptions.
To say 2019 has been a career season for the senior from Ames, Iowa would be a huge understatement. Magical would be a better way to describe it. LSU brought in Joe Brady to help offensive coordinator Steve Esminger fine tune its new spread offense, and the results speak for themselves.
Burrow has completed 77.6% of his passes for more than 5200 yards. He's thrown 55 TD's and just 6 picks. The LSU offense has transformed itself from a run heavy, pro style look, to a highly efficient and highly productive spread. The running backs still get the ball much of the time on first downs, but these days it's in the passing game, as the coaches like to get them the ball in space.
LSU has never been short on talent at the receiver position, but this season they have found a way to properly utilize them. Burrow is averaging almost 11 yards per attempt this season, so they not only utilize them, they do so down the field.
Justin Jefferson is their leading receiver with 102 catches for 1434 yards. On the other side they have Ja'Marr Chase with 75 catches for 1559 yards. Between the two of them they have accounted for 36 of Burrow's 55 TD throws, each coming down with 18 on the season so far.
Then there is 6-foot-4, 250-pound TE Thaddeus Moss. The son of NFL Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss can be a problem from a matchup standpoint and has caught 42 balls and averages 12.7 yards per catch.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the go to guy out of the backfield. He's a dynamic back who is not only an asset in the running game, he's also a big weapon for them in the passing game. Not only does he have 1300 rushing yards, and average over 6 yards per carry, he's caught 50 passes for another 399 yards.
If that isn't enough, they also have an very effective offensive line, as evidenced by the group winning the Joe Moore Award, which is handed out to the country's best offensive line annually. Oddly enough, they've had eight different starters up front and only had two players start at the same position over the first 13 games.
Even more impressive is the fact that only twice did they start the same five offensive linemen in back to back weeks. However, they have allowed 30 sacks on the season. That ranks them 72nd in the country, and could prove to a problem spot against the aggressive Clemson defense.
Only once this season has LSU been held to under 30 points. Auburn was able to pull off the feat in week nine, in a 23-20 loss in Baton Rouge. Having over two weeks to prepare for the championship game this season is something Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables might end up thankful for. As explosive as this LSU offense has been in 2019, having extra time to pinpoint any weaknesses can't be a bad thing.