David Ching suggests that if LSU wants to run down Alabama, it’s going to have to abandon Les Miles’ pound and ground approach on offense.
… One, the conservative offensive strategy the Tigers brought into several recent Alabama losses produced historically poor results. Two, despite its overall recruiting success, LSU has not signed and developed sufficient talent at particular position groups (namely quarterback), widening the gap between the two programs when they have met head-to-head.
What’s standing in their way: LSU fans’ hope is that the coaching change from the Les Miles-Cam Cameron era to Ed Orgeron, offensive coordinator Matt Canada and a reworked offensive staff will be the spark that the Tigers’ offense needed. Miles’ philosophy generally produced winning results in recent years, but not enough to contend for the big prizes that his position demanded. Orgeron knows that modernizing the offense, specifically by moving away from the plodding rushing attack that bogged down in some of LSU’s biggest games, will be the key to his success. That’s where Canada comes in. The only 2016 Broyles Award finalist who coached offense, Canada posted big numbers last season at Pittsburgh and has built a solid reputation for developing quarterbacks and drawing up inventive offensive schemes…
This is interesting to a Georgia fan for a couple of reasons. First, Canada succeeded Jim Chaney at Pitt when Chaney answered Kirby’s call to Athens. Second, if this is indeed LSU’s cue to abandon its heavy run first approach on offense, it’s worth noting some relevant statistical details from last season.
Without looking, where do you think LSU finished in the conference in rushing attempts? Nah, not even close. The Tigers were 12th in the SEC in 2016. (By comparison, Georgia was 4th.) It turned out, though, that LSU was really good when it ran the ball, as it finished first in yards per carry, which was good for third nationally, at 6.09. (Georgia, with Chubb and Michel, was an anemic ninth in the SEC.)
Now, LSU was a mediocre seventh in passer rating, so there’s certainly room for improvement there. Whether Canada figures out a way to preserve the good in the run game while juicing up LSU’s passing attack would seem to be the big question. One big area for improvement would seem to be just running more plays in general, as the Tigers were a horrid 125th last season in total plays. That went a long way towards negating a very good yards per play average (13th nationally, tied with — wait for it — Pitt). LSU was tops in the conference in that regard.
So if there’s a big jump in LSU’s offense, it may simply come as a result of Canada squeezing more snaps out of each game as opposed to some radical restructuring of offensive philosophy. Sometimes being a genius can be as easy as not trying to do too much.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Dawgs have something of a different issue. Georgia was 58th nationally in plays run, but 86th in yards per play. There is no fresh eye coming in to call plays, either. If things are to improve, it’s going to have to start and go a long way with personnel getting better in the existing scheme. Will they is Georgia’s big question.
It will be interesting, to say the least, to see where the two stack up when all is said and done in 2017.