1. LSU is coming off their biggest win of the season and headed to Starkville. Joe Burrow is playing incredible football, and many people have them at the top of their Heisman list. The offense is clicking on all cylinders for the first time in years. What do you equate the success on offense to?
I mean there’s plenty of credit to go around. In his first press conference as LSU’s official head coach, Ed Orgeron said he wanted to run the offense that we’re seeing now. He brought in wunderkind Joe Brady from the Saints to be the passing game coordinator and while he’s the shiny new addition, Steve Ensminger deserves some applause to because he’s the one still calling the plays. LSU has spent years wasting, and I mean WASTING, future NFL stars at the skill positions and O, Brady and Ensminger deserve a lot of credit for letting their athletes be great.
But come on, the majority of the credit has to go to Burrow, right? He’s completing EIGHTY percent of his passes. I don’t care what assistant Coach O hired, he could’ve brought in the ghost of Bill Walsh to be an offensive analyst, Burrow’s the one making the throws.
2. It seems as if LSU has struggled at times defensively this year. Not that they will struggle at all this Saturday, but what is the most significant struggle on the defensive side of the ball?
Yeah this defense was supposed to rival the famed 2011 LSU defense and that hasn’t even come close to happening. I’d owe LSU’s struggles (at least for LSU’s lofty standards) to the defensive line. The group wasn’t healthy in the early goings of the season with Rashard Lawrence, Glen Logan and K’Lavon Chaisson all missing time. Chaisson came back for Utah State while Logan and Lawrence returned for the Florida game. But not only has the defensive line not been healthy, they haven’t been generating much of a pass rush. LSU is tied with a whole host of teams at 43rd in the country with 15 sacks. One reason why Kyle Trask was able to throw for over 300 yards was because he had a pretty clean pocket for most of the night.
3. Let’s talk about Burrow. Joe played well last year, but nothing like what he is doing in 2019. Is this credit to the new offensive coordinator?
A good bit of it is owed to Ensminger and Brady, sure. Burrow’s also only taking online classes and is essentially living in the football ops building. And sure, LSU has a trio of stud receivers in Chase, Jefferson and Marshall, but LSU’s had really good receivers in recent years: Bowe, Lafell, Beckham, Landry, Chark. But man in my life, I’ve never seen an LSU quarterback look this good. The single season school record for passing touchdowns is 28, Burrow has 25 through six games. He’s completing 80 percent of his passes. Against Florida he had as many touchdowns as incompletions, against Georgia Southern he had MORE touchdowns than incompletions. It’s hard to quantify confidence and comfort running an offense, but if you could, Burrow would be off the charts in that category, too. I don’t think anyone in Baton Rouge believes there’s a single throw Joe Burrow can’t make. When have you ever been able to say that about an LSU quarterback?
4. LSU is usually known for its talent at running back. It doesn’t seem that LSU is getting the rave that it often does in the running back position. Is that because the talent isn’t there or because of the attention on Burrow?
I think it’s more because of Burrow, but run game has come alive in recent weeks. LSU has gone for 248 and 218 on the ground the past two weeks. The running game certainly wasn’t what we’re used to seeing out of LSU in the early goings of the season, but with Ed Ingram and Saahdiq Charles solidifying the left side of the LSU offensive line and Clyde Edwards-Helaire getting more carries, the Tigers should start looking more like the Tigers of old. And be on the lookout for true freshman Tyrion Davis-Price, he’s LSU’s second-leading rusher and he’s really giving the Tigers a between the tackles presence.
5. LSU is looking to not only win the SEC West this year but take their first trip to the college football playoff. What has to happen (besides beating BAMA) for the Tigers to go all the way this season?
Well first, before you can get past Alabama you gotta get past Auburn. But I think for LSU to finally make the Playoff, it’s going to come down to the offensive and defensive lines. It feels like the offensive line is starting to gel. They didn’t allow a single sack against Florida and Clyde Edwards-Helaire went for 134 yards on 13 carries. Chances are LSU’s not going to average ten yards a rush for the rest of the season, but if the o-line can keep the backs in that 4.5 yards per attempt area and keep No. 9 standing tall, the offense should continue to shine. As for the defensive line, it’s going to come down to how deep the line is, and who can get after opposing quarterbacks. Nose tackle Tyler Shelvin had his best game as a Tiger Saturday night, can he recreate that effort? Freshman safety Marcel Brooks got a sack, will that lead to more playing time? Can Chaisson find his inner Arden Key or Barkevious Mingo? But we all know it comes down to if the Tigers can’t get after No. 13 in the crimson and white on November 9.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Zach. Best of luck ... well, you know what I’m trying to say.