Big plays fuel momentum as LSU coach Ed Orgeron always says, and in LSU’s offense, big plays are also fueling the breakneck pace at which the Tigers are scoring.
LSU scored seven touchdowns in under three minutes during its 65-14 win against Northwestern State on Saturday. It’s the fifth most points scored by a LSU team in regulation, and it’s only the second time in program history LSU has scored 45 points or more in three consecutive games.
“We work on scoring fast, and getting our defense on the field,” said sophomore receiver Terrace Marshall Jr., who leads LSU with six touchdown catches this season. “That’s our motto – score quick.”
Through three games this season, LSU has 17 touchdown drives in less than three minutes, and the average number of plays and distance per drive is six plays, 62 yards. Eight of LSU’s touchdown drives this season have been six plays or longer and 62 yards or more while remaining under three minutes – a compliment to the team’s ability to sustain drives down the length of the field, while also maintaining an increased tempo.
Last season, LSU scored 23 touchdowns in under three minutes, and only six of those drives were six or more plays and over 62 yards. The increased pace on offense resulted in the Tigers averaging 55 points per game, leading the Southeastern Conference this season.
While LSU can slow the pace if needed, it is not something the Tigers have relied on a lot this season. Senior tight end Stephen Sullivan said LSU decides on how fast to play based on what the opposing defense gives them.
“If they adjust pretty quickly, then we’re going slow it down,” said Sullivan, who caught four passes for 51 yards. “We’re going to take our time with it, but if they can’t really line up when we’re going fast. We’re just going to keep it moving.”
LSU’s tempo caused all three of Georgia Southern, Texas and Northwestern State’s defenses trouble – most notably when the referees accidentally halted LSU’s offense to allow Georgia Southern to substitute on defense.
But the quick pace has also had an adverse effect on LSU’s own defense. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s unit struggled in the previous game against Texas and in the first half against Northwestern State.
“We just need to get our butts in shape,” said junior safety
JaCoby Stevens. “We’re not going to try slow those guys down. We want to keep the rhythm up, and with them scoring, it gives us a lot of confidence because we know we can hang with anybody in the conference or in the nation because they’re putting up about 50 points a game.”
The high-flying, quick-paced offense is just another part of the new-look offense designed by offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and passing game coordinator Joe Brady, who Orgeron referred to as the “gurus upstairs.” The players practiced all offseason under the current tempo and thrive on stacking up big plays.
Against Northwestern State, LSU had 12 passing of plays of 15-plus yards and two run plays of 10-plus yards. Senior quarterback Joe
Burrow said the offense is now geared around throwing the ball to open up the run, and he wants to throw the ball every play if he could.
And if the results from the last three games are what is anticipated the rest of the way, don’t expect LSU to slow down at all.
“Once we get a big play going then we try not to stop,” Sullivan said. “We try to keep going and try to keep them on their toes.”