NEW ORLEANS - This new LSU offense is going to be fun.
Especially when it starts moving forward as quickly and efficiently after the snap as it moves from side to side and in between before the snap.
But first things first. It really is different. Really. On LSU's second play of its season opening, 27-0 win over Brigham Young Saturday night in front of 53,826 at the Superdome, it was clear.
And this was not even a pass. Behind a spread formation, tailback Derrius Guice ran left, and there weren't six defenders there. It reminded me of watching tailback Marshall Faulk of New Orleans with the St. Louis Rams in the "Greatest Show on Turf" in the late 1990s and early 2000s under offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
It is obviously not that good and will likely never be. But there just seems to be frequent wide open spaces created by the moving, shifting formations of new offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
LSU's offense did not exactly light it up Saturday. It did not even score in the first quarter and it struggled on multiple trips in the red zone. There was a false start and a delay of game in the Tigers' first eight plays and a punt on the first drive, but once they got it going, they looked good in spots. They never punted again after that first one and put up 479 yards in 75 plays to 97 yards by BYU on 38 plays.
"Took care of the football," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said.
Guice gained had 120 yards on 27 carries in the first half with two short touchdown runs as the Tigers took a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. Tailback Darrel Williams gained another 92 yards on 15 rushes.
Quarterback Danny Etling threw just 17 times compared to 57 rushing attempts. So much for 50-50, run-pass ratio. Somewhere former LSU coach Les Miles is smiling looking at those whopping 27 rushes by Guice. But Mr. Etling was Mr. Efficient. He completed 14 of 17 for 173 yards with a pretty, 52-yard heave to wide receiver D.J. Chark to set up the second touchdown. Nice being able to let it go and follow through like a normal quarterback, thanks to that back surgery after spring drills.
But it was still just 17-0 midway in the third quarter after LSU had to settle for a 23-yard Jack Gonsoulin field goal. The Tigers threatened to score six again, but had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Gonsoulin and a 20-0 lead. There is still much room for improvement. LSU was called for eight penalties for 70 yards through three quarters and 10 in all for 86 yards.
There should have been a delay of game called in the fourth quarter as the Tigers did not get a third and goal play off in time. It didn't matter, LSU failed to score on fourth and goal from the two anyway. It only finally got another touchdown on a 1-yard run by Darrel Williams for a 27-0 lead after BYU punter Johnny Linehan decided to fake a punt deep in his territory. He didn't make it and set LSU up for the score at the Cougars' 12-yard line.
Still, LSU punted just once the entire game and nearly hit 500 yards. That's a start And true freshman quarterback Myles Brennan got in the game late, completing a 12-yard pass to fellow true freshman Clyde Edwards-Hellaire.
The defense, meanwhile, held BYU to just three first downs in the first half and five net rushing yards on seven carries. For the game, BYU was held to -5 rushing yards on 14 carries. Quarterback Tanner Mangum was sacked three times and threw for only 102 yards.
And this was against a defense minus two starters in middle linebacker Donnie Alexander and cornerback Kevin Toliver II and minus three others expected to play a lot in inside linebacker Michael Divinity, cornerback Xavier Lewis and defensive end Frank Herron. Those five and six others were suspended because of team rules violations.
The other six were deep reserves and not expected to play if they were dressed out. Those were sophomore wide receiver Dee Anderson of DeSoto, Texas, sophomore quarterback Justin McMillan of Cedar Hill, Texas, sophomore tight end Caleb Roddy of Denham Springs, No. 3 junior tight end Bry'kiethon Mouton of Lafayette, sophomore guard Adrian Magee of Franklinton and senior defensive end Deondre Clark of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
There was no statement concerning it at all from LSU's sports information department, which is embarrassing, particularly when you consider LSU has a very good journalism school. Coach Ed Orgeron explained he would not be commenting on suspended players this season. Considering there were 11, such a discussion could have taken up a large portion of his press conference.
His policy drew much less national attention than Florida coach Jim McElwain suspending 10 players in all going into his 33-17, opening loss to Michigan Saturday afternoon. But it is still dishonest. And from the LSU no-tell perspective, the players not suspended are no better than those who are. And that is wrong.
At any rate, the suspensions gave Orgeron and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda an opportunity to throw some youth into the fire. True freshman Tyler Taylor, the No. 8 prep inside linebacker in the nation out of Buford, Georgia, started in place of Alexander. Redshirt freshman Andraez Williams of Calvary Baptist in Shreveport started ahead of Toliver, who has had previous issues.
Meanwhile, true freshman K'Lavon Chaisson, the No. 6 weak side defensive end in the nation out of Houston, started at injured Arden Key's outside linebacker spot. True freshman Grant Delpit also started at free safety, but he beat out senior Ed Paris. He was going to start anyway.
With Saahdiq Charles starting at right guard on offense, that made four true freshmen starting a season opener for the Tigers. That many true freshmen have never started an opener in LSU history, according to the sports information department.
Billed as the "AdvoCare Texas Kickoff," the game was moved NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, because of torrential flooding from Hurricane Harvey. All proceeds after the Superdome's game operating costs will go to Harvey relief. To give to Hurricane Harvey relief via LSU, go to: http://lsu.edu/floodrelief/
"We love you, Houston," Orgeron said. "We know what you're going through. We know you'll stay strong."
It started a little rough, but Louisiana is going to love this new LSU offense.
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