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Previewing the opponent offense: LSU Tigers

LSU is still LSU, and is going to try and slug it out

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past decade, the Alabama vs LSU heavyweight slug fest has been the kind of spectacle that the old-school kind of folks put on a pedestal while the west coast and Big 12 folks call it boring football.

Over time, both teams have evolved their offenses to incorporate more and more spread and uptempo concepts to better take advantage of modern football while staying true to their pounding, soul-grinding styles.

Make no mistake: this is still your dad’s run-first, ball-control offense designed to shorten game length and minimize opponent possessions. The Tigers are pretty middle-of-the pack in NCAA offense stats, sitting at 30 points per game and 192 rush yards per game to 199 pass yards, all while ranking 5th in the nation in turnover margin.

The run game is nearly a perfect 60-40 split between senior Nick Brossette and sophomore Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Brossette has been slightly less efficient with his 697 yards to Edwards-Helaire’s 521 despite having 46 more carries, but he has 10 touchdowns already on the year. At 221 pounds, he’s the prototypical between-the-tackles runner that makes this kind of offense tick, while the smaller Edwards-Helaire is the relief pitcher who, if the hand is hot, can take over the game as needed.

These two are bolstered by QB Joe Burrow, who’s been as much a rushing threat as a passing threat all year. He has 250 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground, and can really pop off an explosive play on a defense that isn’t paying attention.

Passing-wise, he’s done enough to win every game but the Florida game, but has really only had an excellent game against the much maligned Ole Miss secondary. He’s completing a shade under 54% of his passes and has only 6 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. They aren’t great numbers, but you have to keep it in perspective: LSU has faced a brutal schedule thus far this season, and also just a barely competent LSU QB is something of a novelty in Baton Rouge anyway.

The 6’2” sophomore Justin Jefferson is his go-to target in the passing game. He has double the amount of receptions as the second leading receiver, and easily leads the team with 471 receiving yards. Next are juniors Dee Anderson and Stephen Sullivan. Both are monstrous (over 6’6” and 230 pounds) junior receivers with 15 catches apiece. The two are used identically, and have 184 yards and 183 yards, respectively. They do most of their work in the short-to-intermediate passing game, and haven’t shown much big-play explosiveness.

The diminutive Derrick Dillon is the most likely to appear from nowhere and make a big play. He only has 8 catches, but isn’t far from Anderson and Sullivan with 140 yards and a touchdown. He also is the occasional candidate for taking a jet sweep. Senior tight end Foster Moreau is mostly a blocker, but does slip free occasionally to the tune of 10 catches for 119 yards so far this season.

Though LSU is ranked in the top 15 in rushing amount, their yards per rush are actually pretty pedestrian. Meanwhile, the passing game is ranked between 82nd and 107th in pretty much every passing stat aside from interception %, which is in the top 5.

It’s not a model of efficiency or explosiveness, but it has been good enough so far to complement an elite defense and keep the Tigers ahead in most every game they’ve played.