Ed-itorial: plenty of blame to go around for LSU offensive debacle
The head scratching plays and performances from the LSU offense started early against Wisconsin.
Quarterback Brandon Harris ran the option with Leonard Fournette to the short side of the field.
Then he was asked to roll to his left and throw across his body.
The pass was high.
Harris made more than his share of mistakes.
On third and 7, in the second quarter, the pocket was solid, but instead of stepping up, Harris retreated right into a sack.
In the third quarter, a Wisconsin inside linebacker tipped his hand before the snap that he was blitzing.
But, Harris didn’t change plays, and he and Leonard Fournette collided on an aborted handoff when the linebacker came clean.
On the following play, LSU had exactly the right call.
Three Wisconsin defenders followed Leonard Fournette into the right flat.
That left Malachi Dupre open for a first down across the middle.
The pass by Harris, who had time, was too far in front.
The LSU offensive line made several mistakes, and performed poorly.
On Brandon Harris’ 31 yard pass to Leonard Fournette down the left side, two experienced lineman, guard Will Clapp and center Ethan Pocic seemed confused about blocking a defender who came clean and almost blew up Harris before he threw the football.
Wisconsin’s fronts confused the offensive line.
On one snap, LSU had 7 protecting against four, yet one of those four got to the quarterback.
The rule on free blitzers should be simple. If you have two coming, and only one to block, that one should take the inside guy closest to the quarterback. On several occasions the exact opposite happened.
On consecutive plays, offensive tackle KJ Malone was beaten to the outside, and then to the inside.
The ultimate responsibility for this offensive debacle belongs to head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
Miles took umbrage last November when I asked him if he was considering a “major overhaul” of the offense.
Based on what we see, year after year, at LSU, I was asking a legitimate question.
“Does that include Leonard Fournette,” asked Miles.
“Uh, oh, hold on, are we taking the running game from the offense?”
And, there lies the dilemma for the LSU offense.
The head coach wants to feed the ball to his best player, running out of the I formation.
But, his starting quarterback clearly is uncomfortable in a pro style offense.
Brandon Harris was a spread offense quarterback at Parkway. He grew up that way. The offense was second nature to him.
What he’s running now is not.
If you look at the tape, two of Harris’ best plays came out of the shotgun.
With blitzers running at him, he completed a pair of third down throws to Malachi Dupre for first downs.
Certain quarterbacks have certain styles. It is like tennis. In 1986 and 1987, Ivan Lendl, who desperately wanted to win Wimbledon, worked hard on his serve and volley.
Lendl reached two finals, but in 1986 he lost to Boris Becker, and a year later, to Pat Cash, both in straight sets.
Lendl was most comfortable in the back of the court.
I don’t know if Brandon Harris can be the answer at quarterback.
But, after 14 starts, it is safe to say, the LSU offense is not tailored to what he can do.
And, whatever Harris is doing, he is not doing what he does best.
For 8 months were heard about all the positive changes in the LSU offense.
But, then the games started.
And, it was SOL.
Same old Les.