In Order for LSU Football Offense to Find Its Rhythm, Tigers Must Get Better Protection Up Front

Orgeron disappointed with gameplan, execution vs tough Aggies defense
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Ed Orgeron didn't sugarcoat the performance by LSU's offense on Saturday night. Immediately following the game Orgeron said he was disappointed in the Tigers' gameplan and execution against the No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies in College Station. 

For much of the game, the offensive line was pushed around, the running backs weren't picking up more than one or two-yard gains and the receivers were dropping passes and simply not finding the first down markers. There were multiple missed opportunities that stymied the offense into just 267 yards of total offense and a 2-of-16 third down conversion rate. 

But Orgeron said it starts and ends with the protection up front and for three straight games now, that offensive line has been a glaring weakness within this LSU offense. Much like we wanted to see that consistency from the defense before making any declarations of improvement, the same can be said for the o-line. 

And unlike the LSU defense, the o-line took a significant step back in Saturday's loss to the Aggies. 

"We didn't play well, we couldn't run the football, couldn't block those guys," Orgeron said. "We couldn't protect, it wasn't the quarterback's fault, he was running for his life all day, both of them were."

It's like what center Liam Shanahan said earlier this week, it comes down to sound fundamentals and technique, something that each lineman struggled with this weekend. Tackles were being beat off the edge with little resistance and on multiple occasions, two linemen were blocking the same defender allowing delayed blitzes and free runners at quarterbacks Max Johnson and TJ Finley all night. 

"We had some guys free hitting the quarterback, getting beat on the line and we just gotta look at the protections," Orgeron said. "Every time you throw the ball it starts with protection first. Obviously we want to get a lot of guys out but maybe we should've kept more guys in."

The second part of Orgeron's disappointment was in the gameplan and play calling, which goes back up to the booth with offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and passing game coordinator Scott Linehan. The first-year passing game coordinator Linehan handles the third down play calling and the 12.5% third down conversion rate was without a doubt one of the weaknesses of this performance. 

That also goes hand in hand with Ensminger's calls though as far too often LSU found itself in third-and-long as opposed to third-and-manageable, like last week against Arkansas, when the team converted 12-of-23 third down conversions. 

"There's no room to run the football, I think we gotta call better plays, we gotta have a better plan. I was really disappointed in our plan and execution," Orgeron said. "We gotta use these guys better, gotta have a better plan."

With No. 1 Alabama right around the corner, the gameplan, play calling, offensive line and running attack must make significant strides if it hopes to keep up with the Crimson Tide. 

"I thought we were going to catch on fire on offense but we never did," Orgeron said. "Our execution of our offense was poor today."