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LSU Football Offense Not Where it Wants to Be But is Discovering an Identity

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Tigers making slight adjustments up front that have helped develop the passing offense over last few weeks.

All season, LSU’s offense has shown flashed of its potential. The explosive plays are there for the taking in this Jake Peetz led offense but there are issues that a month into the season continue to keep this group from maxing out its potential.

They are issues that both players and coach Ed Orgeron has acknowledged in the past and it all starts up front. Dating back to that 2019 group up front, the purple and gold have not been able to get to fully take advantage of this offense because of the protection issues on the offensive line. 

Far too often, offensive linemen are being pushed off the line of scrimmage, unable to open holes in the running attack, or just simply being beat off the line of scrimmage entirely. And Orgeron said this team can’t become the team it wants without significant improvement up front. 

“We still got a ways to go. It starts with protection. 2019, we were 5-man protection. We got a lot of people out. We got our backs out. Clyde ran that little choice route on the linebacker, we haven’t done that yet. We’re having to keep a back in, now we’re having to keep a tight end in and it all starts with protection.”

Because of these problems, LSU has incorporated a number of different adjustments, the most important of which is adding an additional blocker via tight end or lineman on the line of scrimmage. Another way the offense has tried to free up time for Max Johnson in the passing game is “chipping” the defensive linemen off the line of scrimmage. 

A chip block is a quick block right at the start of a play to throw off a defensive end or edge rusher, usually conducted by a tight end or running back, to allow just an extra second or so for the quarterback to make a decision. It’s useful in extending time but it does make the play a little slower in terms of development at the tight end or running back spot out of the backfield.

“I think all of the running backs have done a good job of chipping, nudging or getting out when they aren’t needed in protection,” Johnson said. “They know where to go, whether it’s the right or the left, they know how to scan.”

These slight alterations have helped keep Johnson upright over the last two weeks and the sophomore is making much crisper and quicker decisions with the football, allowing the Tigers to score seven touchdowns over the last two weeks on plays of 20 yards or more. 

Most of these plays have come as the result of a Run-Pass Option or on a quick hitter where the athlete makes a play in space, But that extra time is helping carve an identity in the passing attack. 

“We feel like we do that. We always want to take shots, not all of them are shots though,” Orgeron said. “All of them are short passes that turn into explosive plays. My favorite play of the game was the first play of the second half when we ran the RPO to [Kayshon] Boutte. I heard Jake (Peetz) say, safety’s coming down. Listen, that’s what the RPOs are about. If we can read the safety coming down, throw a slant to Boutte and give him the football, big plays are going to happen. We need to continue to get better at that.”

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