Coming into Sunday’s game against No. 8 Miami, everyone in the country who didn’t work on LSU coach Ed Orgeron’s staff had no idea what to expect for the Tigers. Hell, they probably didn’t know what to expect, either.
Over the course of the last eight months, we’ve heard everything from a spread offense to former quarterback Lowell Narcisse running the wildcat. So, pick any random formation from Madden, and there is a chance someone, somewhere, had heard LSU is running it in practice.
What many witnessed, however, was far off from what they expected. LSU dominated in all three phases of the game and trounced the Hurricanes in a 33-17 Tigers’ victory.
Game Ball: Grant Delpit, safety, sophomore
Whether it was chasing down Malik Rosier in the backfield, covering receivers in the slot, or playing as a deep safety, Grant Delpit did it all effectively. While it’d be easy to say sophomore linebacker Jacob Phillips was the best player for LSU on Sunday, he made too many small mistakes in an otherwise stellar performance that deserves mentioning.
Delpit’s biggest mistake was dropping an easy interception when the game was in hand. He finished with 6 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, a sack and a quarterback hurry that led to an interception by senior safety John Battle.
Another player that’s worth noting is senior kicker Cole Tracy who was 4-of-4 on field goals on his debut.
Biggest Play: Brossette’s 50-yard TD run
Senior tailback Nick Brossette’s touchdown run changed the game. It gave LSU the momentum it needed after an awkward start that featured penalties, burned timeouts and some confusion. Guards Damien Lewis and Garrett Brumfield did one heck of a job to clean out the middle of the Hurricanes defense, and it allowed Brossette to make one simple cut and break free.
Biggest positive: Joe Burrow’s ability to make reads
Brossette’s run doesn’t happen if junior quarterback Joe Burrow doesn’t check out of the original play. Burrow saw the safety and linebacker crashing down on the right-side of LSU’s offensive line pre-snap and made the call to flip the ball.
It was the perfect display of what Burrow was doing all night, and that was making the correct call at the line of scrimmage. He obviously has the trust of Orgeron and offensive coordinator Steven Ensminger, and it shows. It’s impossible to count how many RPO’s LSU ran, but Burrow decided to throw three times, completing two passes for 11 yards.
Biggest negative: Red zone offense and third down conversions
Orgeron ripped former offensive coordinator Matt Canada and LSU’s red zone offense multiple times in the past 12 months, and the inability to finish off drives with touchdowns showed up again against Miami. LSU turned all four red zone opportunities into points, but only one was a touchdown.
What’s even worse is the Tigers’ third down conversion rate that was just under 19 percent (3-of-16) against the Hurricanes.
The only time LSU had a worse conversion percentage than that in 2017 was in an embarrassing loss to Troy.
Going forward: Positives outweigh negatives
The good news is LSU’s defense is rock-solid, even without sophomore outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson if the knee injury he suffered in the fourth quarter is serious. The Tigers have also seemed to found a reliable kicker, and Burrow looks like a solid Southeastern Conference quarterback.
Bad news: Gerald Willis III had his way with LSU’s offensive line most of the night. He dominated one-on-one matchups and looked like the best player on the field regardless of what color uniform he was wearing. Auburn has a similar caliber player in Derrick Brown, and his sidekick Dontavius Russell is no slouch either.
If LSU can’t find some cohesiveness upfront, then Burrow might become a punching bag for Auburn’s defensive front in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 15.