LSU offense (cont.)
Posted: Sunday September 9, 2007 3:00AM; Updated: Sunday September 9, 2007 3:16AM
Well at least one of the coaches here was willing to acknowledge that. While Miles' postgame theme was all about keeping things in perspective ("It's all about what we get done in the future," he said more than once), he did concede what was clearly evident to anyone who watched the blowout: That LSU's staff scripted one heck of a game plan that the players went out and executed to near-perfection.
We knew going in that Virginia Tech's offense was suspect, its inexperienced, injury-depleted line would likely struggle to protect QB Sean Glennon and Glennon himself had a long track record of spotty performances -- all of which would not bode well against the Tigers' swarming defense.
All that played out and then some -- Glennon completed just 2 of 10 passes for 16 yards before giving way to more athletic freshman Tyrod Taylor (and potential new starter) in the third quarter -- but in a bit of a surprise, what truly sparked the Tigers' fast start was their offense.
Facing a third and 10 from his own 41 on the game's opening drive, Flynn, the fifth-year senior who waited his turn behind JaMarcus Russell the past three seasons, took a quick drop back, saw LaFell had a seam down the middle and sliced a throw right between two Hokies defenders that went for a gain of 14 yards.
It would be a preview of his entire night.
While LSU leaned first and foremost on its dependable running game (which accounted for 297 yards split among seven different runners) and short-passing game, whenever Flynn needed to make a throw downfield, he always seemed to put it in the right spot. He finished his third career start 17-of-27 for 217 yards in less than three quarters of work (backup Ryan Perrilloux took over and himself went 5-of-5 for 84 yards and two touchdowns) as the Tigers nearly tripled the average number of yards Virginia Tech's top-ranked defense allowed last season.
"We feel like we have a very good offense," Flynn said on the field of Tiger Stadium before joining his teammates to sing the school's fight song. "We came out and showed it. We clicked on all cylinders."
LaFell, previously overshadowed by projected NFL first-rounder Early Doucet, was Flynn's favorite target, catching seven passes for 125 yards. But LSU spread the ball around to six different receivers -- including highly touted freshman Terrrance Tolliver, who caught a 28-yard TD from Perriloux in the game's waning minutes -- in much the same way they it distributes the rock among its deep stable of tailbacks.
Perhaps the most impressive facet of LSU's offense -- and the area that will undoubtedly cause opposing defensive coordinators the most headaches this season -- is the seemingly unpredictable fashion in which it rotates it tailbacks, each of whom has his own distinctive style. While Crowton scripts the plays, running backs coach Larry Porter decides who goes in on each play, and, according to the sophomore speedster Williams, "sometimes he kind of makes a last minute decision. Am I going in? Is Jacob? Is Charles? He keeps us guessing."
Williams himself finished with the most yardage of the group (126), with the bulk of it coming on his two long touchdown runs (67 and 32 yards). The powerful Hester got the most carries (12) and seemed to take the biggest toll on Virginia Tech's defense, bulldozing his way to 81 yards. Scott added 24 yards on four carries and, lest anyone forget about him, LSU inserted its fastest player of all, pint-sized receiver/return man Trindon Holliday, as a running back late in the game. Almost immediately he burst for a 22-yard gain.
"We have a talented backfield," said Miles. "That mix gives us a freshness and strength in the running game that we need."
The man who must feel like he's been handed the keys to the Playboy Mansion right now is Crowton, the former Louisiana Tech and BYU head coach who replaced Nick Saban holdover Jimbo Fisher when he left for Florida State last winter. Fisher was the offensive coordinator for LSU's 2003 national title team, but that squad - which, like this one, was known primarily for its overpowering defense -- didn't have nearly as many options to choose from on offense.
Asked if he's ever had as talented an offense at his disposal before, Crowton hesitated before replying, "Let's just say I'm happy with what I've got." LSU retained the same base offense it ran under Fisher, but Crowton, a spread-offense practitioner, has added his own influence, primarily the extensive use of the shotgun, in which Flynn seemed to flourish.
"Some guys are only comfortable in one or the other," said Crowton. "That's been the nice thing with Matt, he's comfortable in both -- under center or the shotgun -- which gives us versatility."
If there's one lasting impression to take away from Saturday's game, it's that: LSU's impressive versatility. Mix a veteran, savvy quarterback with an unpredictable offense and a surplus of speed at seemingly every position, and it's easy to see why the Tigers are considered one of the favorites to reach the Superdome in January.
Not that Miles would want us to say that.
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