LSU Offense Must Make Major Progress to Compete With No. 1 Alabama

Offensive line must play best game of season to give Tigers a chance

With LSU’s defense finally starting to take shape, it will be up to the offense to make serious strides if the Tigers want to keep pace with Alabama’s explosive offense.

There’s no perfect recipe for slowing down the Alabama offense. It’s explosive with playmakers at the skill positions and possible NFL first round selections along the offensive line. That’s why LSU needs to be a balanced offense when the Crimson Tide rolls into Baton Rouge. Keeping the football away from the Alabama offense is the name of the game, while mixing in some big shots down the field as well.

After a really good effort by the LSU defensive players against Texas A&M, the Tigers offense will be watched closely. Better pass protection, better run blocking, better route running, you name it, LSU’s offense needs to improve.

There were signs against the Aggies, however, and it’s time that LSU actually put together a good offensive performance via the rushing and passing attacks. It starts up front.

The LSU Offensive Line Must Play Great

Neither one of LSU’s young quarterbacks are suddenly going to be ready to place the team on his back and make plays all over the field. Quite the contrary. They need the players around them to play great so that each of the freshmen signal callers gain confidence as the evening advances, and that starts up front.

Point blank, this had better be the LSU offensive line’s best game of the year. Otherwise, long yardage situations by way of quarterback sacks and run stuffs will lead to handing the Crimson Tide the football in enviable situations that will end badly for the purple and gold.

Of course LSU’s coaching staff must make this a realistic situation. The Tigers are playing two true freshmen at quarterback. There’s no question that TJ Finley and Max Johnson are learning the LSU offense, but they need to be especially confident in this week’s game plan, and that starts with believing in the offensive line and the pass protection. After that, the Tigers need to find some semblance of a rushing attack. It was missing in action against the Aggies.

There simply must be two or three rushing plays that LSU can lean upon to keep Alabama’s pass rush off balance. If the Tigers find a few running lanes, there’s a chance to be in manageable situations like third-and-four.

Look for the Tigers to go with a lot of the same formations and personnel in an effort to not only keep chemistry, but also to throw off Alabama because the same run action can turn into a pass, or vice versa. Bootlegs, misdirection passes, and more motion than usual can all be a part of this type of game plan.

That’s when LSU’s playmakers can be more productive because the Alabama defense cannot just pin its ears back and attack. It’s going to be interesting to see which LSU skill players make their presence felt.

LSU’S Skill Players Must Win the 50-50 Balls

It’s time to step up. Players come to LSU to showcase their skills. With Terrace Marshall, Jr. opting out for the NFL, there are a lot of young players that will be challenged to make plays against the Crimson Tide.

Freshmen like tight end Arik Gilbert and wide receiver Kayshon Boutte are just a couple of the skill players who LSU must take shots down the field. For LSU to be in this game, realistically, the Tigers need chunk yardage passing plays.

It would not hurt if at least one of the Tigers’ receivers took a five-yard pass and turned it into a 70-yard touchdown. Regardless, big plays are paramount.

These plays cannot always just be the traditional play-action passes either. Alabama has a well coached team just like it does every year. A third-and-one fade ball to Gilbert, or perhaps to Jaray Jenkins needs to be mixed in with the rushing attack when it’s a traditional running down.

Perhaps LSU utilizes a halfback option pass after running a couple of sweeps with the same formation and/or personnel. Bottom line, LSU needs to generate explosive plays to keep Alabama’s defense guessing.

If LSU can hit at least two passes of 40 yards, that will open up a plethora of options for the wide receivers underneath, and the running game as well. It would not be surprising to see LSU try to garner some big plays through the screen game, including the running backs. These are basic passes that are easy for the young signal callers and allow athletes the chance to make something happen during an otherwise low risk play call.

A Running Back Must Step Forward

All season long LSU has changed its running back rotation. Regardless of the reason, one running back absolutely must step forward versus Alabama. This starts with using excellent vision to make sure LSU maximizes its running opportunities, and it also means an extremely high yards after contact average by game's end.

Nothing less will do. LSU needs one of its running backs to be an absolute monster against the ‘Tide. Who will it be? Are they up to the challenge?

It’s not just running and catching the football either. Some of those deep throws will require the running backs to block at a high level. If those deep shots end up being sacks and/or quarterbacks being hit while they throw, there’s a higher propensity for turnovers as well.

Will it be Tyrion Davis-Price or John Emery that stands out? At least one of them absolutely needs to do so.

Final Thoughts

LSU will need to play an almost flawless game to beat Alabama. It starts with the offensive line, the playmakers outside must come up huge, and the running backs must be all-around great players for this to happen. With all three of those factors in place, the young quarterbacks do not have to try and win the game themselves.

That would simply be asking way too much. Whether it’s Finley or Johnson that takes the football Saturday, or both, they need to have the players around them play excellent football. Then perhaps later in the game one of those young signal callers can add a special play of his own to place LSU in a position to compete with Alabama into the fourth quarter and see what happens.