3.7.19 Spring Practice

LSU junior quarterback Joe Burrow (9) participates in spring practice in the LSU Football Facility on Thursday, March 7, 2019.

The purple and gold faithful will once again be milling toward the gates of Tiger Stadium this weekend to satiate their hunger pangs for America’s favorite contact sport.

The National L Club Spring Game is set to kick off at 1 p.m. this Saturday, which means we’re only a few summer months away from fall weather, football and listening to broadcasters and announcers call every play action pass an “RPO.”

RPO is an acronym for run-pass option, and its use has become prevalent as more offenses at the collegiate and professional level use RPO schemes to modernize offenses.

I understand talk about modern offensive schemes and run-pass options is like speaking Greek to an LSU fan. After all, I’ve only seen coaches promise to “open up the offense” every spring since I was 12, only to realize we’ve all been lied to when the season begins and the Tigers go back to their favorite habit — running the football into a loaded box.

However, this time could be different. This time around there’s a little more evidence to suggest that when coach Ed Orgeron said, “I just see the offense I finally want,” he’s actually telling the truth.

The evidence I speak of is newly-minted LSU assistant coach Joe Brady. Brady spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons with the New Orleans Saints and worked as a graduate assistant for Penn State in the two seasons prior to that.

While Tiger fans shouldn’t expect to see Alvin Kamara wheel routes out of the backfield, it certainly sounds as though LSU’s offense is finally undergoing a proper retooling.

Coaches and players have, for the most part, been tight-lipped when it comes to discussing new schemes, so I wouldn’t expect the Tigers to reveal too much of their hand in this upcoming spring game.

It’s evident that LSU would have the talent to utilize a more modern offensive scheme though. Justin Jefferson and the rest of last year’s wide receiver corps is returning, and Joe Burrow has a year of Southeastern Conference play under his belt. The Tiger offense is also returning Clyde Edwards-Helaire at the running back position and adding the talents of incoming freshmen John Emery and Tyrion Davis-Price to the stable.

The biggest offensive question mark will be the talent on the offensive line, but successfully implementing the RPO would help relieve pressure from the trenches.

Defensively, the Tigers should be as loaded as ever. Talents like departing cornerback Greedy Williams and linebacker Devin White are hard to replace, but the return of linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson from injury and the presence of veterans like safeties Grant Delpit and JaCoby Stevens should certainly go a long way.

It’s tough to get overly optimistic about LSU football in April though, especially given the history of every “new” LSU offense that gets “implemented.”

It is nice to know that all the pieces for a special season are in the mix though. Returning talent and a palatable 2019 schedule could be a dangerous combination, and if the coaching staff is serious about modernizing the offense, the Tigers could really turn some heads in this upcoming season though.

Fans will have to curb their excitement though. This weekend’s spring game will give us all a brief moment to talk about LSU football again before the dog days of summer. Then, it’ll be back to waiting for the sun to find its home in the western sky on the Saturday night of Aug. 31.

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