At 30.5 points per game, LSU is decidedly middle of the pack in the country in terms of scoring. They haven’t been consistent though, with wins over Florida and Central Michigan racking up 49 points each, while losses to Auburn, Kentucky, and Ole Miss saw the Tigers stuck at 19, 21, and 17 total points. They’re 64th in total success rate, and 52nd in explosives. Just decidedly.... average.
Offensive coordinator Jake Peetz is a young OC in his first stint as a playcaller after spending time as a QB coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, and Carolina Panthers, as well as two seasons (2013 and 2018) as an offensive analyst behind the scenes at Alabama.
Peetz’s system clearly took a lot of inspiration from the Mike Locksley/Steve Sarkisian offenses at Alabama, as well as what he learned from former LSU coordinator Joe Brady with the Panthers in 2020.
The scheme is based heavily on the interior power run game coupled with a whole lot of RPO and playaction passing. Most passing routes are quick, timing slants and screens off of play action, with the offense designed to allow receivers to pick up yards after catch while limiting the chances of QB sacks.
The entire offense goes as RB Ty Davis-Price goes, and the 232-pound junior has 628 yards on 5.2 yards per carry, with the bulk of that coming in the last three weeks. Despite Davis-Price’s recent success against Florida and Kentucky, LSU has overall struggled to block to get him going. They’re 103rd in the country in offensive line yards, 109th at having runs get stuffed, 92nd in rushing success rate, and 97th in rushing explosives.
Even worse, despite his huge frame and reputation as a power back, they’re 100th in success rate on short yardage situations.
Backup running back Corey Kiner is a solid, shifty freshman as a change-of-pace guy, but is unlikely to be a major factor.
In the passing game, Max Johnson finished 2020 strongly, giving a lot of people a reason to look for LSU to have a rebound in 2021. That has not materialized.
Johnson is completing 61% of his passes at 7.6 yards per attempt, and has thrown 20 total touchdowns to 5 interceptions. Definitely not bad, but not great, either. He’s been decently efficient with the 33rd best success rate that skyrockets to 15th on passing downs, but is 70th in explosive plays.
Some of that is scheme related, as it seems to almost entirely be based on screens, slants, and boot/rollout throws, and the LSU receivers haven’t been particularly dynamic at breaking big plays on those short routes.
Kayshon Boutte was THE guy with 508 yards and 9 touchdowns but he has since been injured (supposedly) and is out for the season. Next up is tight end Jack Bech. The freshman has been a bit of a surprise for the Tigers, and has become Johnson’s security blanket, catching 28 balls for 333 yards so far.
Freshman Brian Thomas, Jr. (Alabama recruited him for FOREVER last year before he finally made up his mind) has 18 catches, as does 6’4” Jr. Jaray Jenkins. Trey Palmer rounds out the rest of the starting trio with 16 catches of his own.
Backups Malik Nabers and Deion Smith have gotten quite a few looks in the rotation as well, and will likely get some playing time as the Tigers still look for the best way to replace Boutte’s production.
Johnson is a decent scrambler and can outrun defenders with his 6’5” stride, though he’s prone to taking sacks as well, with 18 through 8 games. Overall, though, he’s rarely an actual threat as a designed runner.
According to the DraftKings sportsbook, Alabama is favored by 28.5 with an O/U of 66 points. Doing a little algebra, and the Vegas folks are expecting LSU to score all of...
x+y=66 x-y=28.5 —> x=y+28.5 2y+28.5=66 y=19
That basically matches the Tiger’s season low, and Alabama’s defense is better than Ole Miss’s and about equal to Auburn’s. With Alabama’s ability to stuff runs and limit explosives, it basically only leaves LSU with some annoying chain-mover slant routes as the only effective part of their offense.
As long as the safeties and corners tackle well, it’s hard to see the Tigers being able to generate too much offense, and 13-17 points seems about right to me.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.