Here’s the skinny on the LSU football team:
Defense — Still very, very good (despite no heat from Tyrann Mathieu).
Special teams — Still very good (despite no returns from Mathieu).
Offense — Still wandering in the wilderness.
How best to find its way back to the end zone is the question of the year as LSU battens hatches in advance of No. 3 South Carolina’s arrival Saturday.
Is it time for drastic changes or just drastically improved execution? Quarterback Zach Mettenberger — the man at the eye of LSU’s offenseless storm — says it’s both.
“We’ve got to get better execution, no question,” Mettenberger said. “Maybe (also) a little more variety in some of the stuff we do offensively.
“But all we can do is execute the plays that are called. That’s our job. We’ve got to focus and execute.”
The CEO of LSU’s offense, Les Miles, said throwing and catching and running and blocking better are the keys to pull the Tigers’ offense out of the mud. He dismissed the idea of changing offensive coaching assignments, though the notion of leaving quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe in the press box and having offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa on the field (where he can be hands on with his linemen) sounds good here.
Miles also hinted he may have some different plays under his hat as well.
Clearly, LSU is searching for a dependable offensive playmaker. Miles offered without prompting Monday that LSU needs to get tailback Spencer Ware more touches on offense.
That could well be a badly needed spark for the Tigers. Ware is LSU’s most bruising runner and best receiver.
It has been suggested that the Tigers use more shotgun formations, the theory (a valid one) being that Mettenberger can use the extra time and space to make plays. That’s critical, because Gamecocks defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor can be in Zach’s ear hole faster than you can say Mettenberger.
Mettenberger said shotgun plays will continue to be part of the offense, but likely won’t grow in number. His comfort zone is to start under center because he can better keep track of what the defense is doing. Personally, I’d want to start two parishes away from Clowney, but it’s Mettenberger’s hide on the line.
“In that split second you take your eyes off the defense to catch the ball they (defenders) are three yards away from where they were,” Mettenberger said.
“I’ve got to get through my reads and progressions quick. We’ve got to be able to run on them. They’ve got speed guys. You don’t want them rushing upfield. If we can pound the ball on them, they’ll be more hesitant to rush. And we’ve got to protect when we take deep shots.”
Those quotes make it sound again like LSU’s best remedy is to try to do what it’s doing but just do it better, a.k.a. differently. That could also be the definition of insanity, but it isn’t as though LSU has abundant options.