Struggling LSU offense has ‘some soul-searching’ to do

BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU’s 49-game home nonconference winning streak came to a screeching halt as Danny Etling’s late chuck was intercepted by Blace Brown.

As if the LSU football team  needed a wake-up call.

The previously No. 25-ranked Tigers lost to Troy 24-21, suffering their first loss to a Sun Belt Conference team, and marking LSU’s first loss to a nonconference opponent since losing to UAB back in 2000. A 10-0 halftime deficit caused, in part, by a fumble on LSU’s first offensive snap of the game, a slow start out of the gate and sporadic play by both quarterbacks throughout the night puts much of the spotlight back on the sputtering offense.

Members of the LSU football team were unable to pinpoint just one reason why this offense has regressed over the first five games of the season. There is, however, an undeniable sense of urgency to repair the ailing unit before the 3-2 record through the first month of the season tailspins into an even more disappointing 2017 campaign.

“We have to dig down deep and ask ourselves, ‘We want it?’ ” senior receiver D.J. Chark said. “It’s LSU. It’s not acceptable. No matter what, we don’t lose. We have to find ourselves, soul search, and if we want it come together. I shouldn’t have to ask anybody, or have anybody ask me. We have to dig down deep to see if we want this team to be the team we want to be, not what we’re expected to be. I feel like the guys understand the importance of this loss. No group of competitors likes to lose.  How we rebound this week will show a lot about our character.”

LSU travels to Florida next Saturday to face the Gators, who on Saturday held Vanderbilt to 310 yards in a 38-24 victory, their third win in a row. All of Florida’s wins to start the season have come against SEC opponents.

If the LSU offense is going to fix itself, it will need to first figure out which area to address. After spending the week leading up to the Troy game attempting to simplify the offense by reducing pre-snap motion, there’s pressure to tweak several different aspects of the game plan in order to compete with the Gators.

“You’re frustrated. You want to get back out there on Monday and fix everything and get this taste out of your mouth as soon as possible,” LSU senior quarterback Danny Etling said. “You want to get things going. We show flashes of that at times, then we stalemate. We miss out on making the plays and things of that nature. It’s tough things to even coach. We’re not making the plays when they’re there and it’s something we put on ourselves as players.

“We’ll watch the film on Sunday and move onto Florida by that night. We’ll fix what we need to fix. We talk about seeing and making the big plays, getting guys more confidence. We need to make a big adjustment as far as making the plays.”

Through five games, LSU’s offense is averaging 27 points and 409 yards per game, good for 83rd and 67th in the nation, respectively. This is the result of hiring Matt Canada to revive the offense in the offseason.

Of course, it’s difficult to blame a newly installed system on an offense that lacks urgency.

The Tigers scored 42 first-half points in the first two wins of the season against BYU in New Orleans and Chattanooga the following week in Tiger Stadium. Since then, they’ve combined for 21 first-half points and a 1-2 record in losses to Mississippi State and Troy, which sandwiched a home victory against Syracuse.

Sept. 2 BYU 293 3 183 0 479 W 27-0
Sept. 9 Chattanooga 222 4 232 1 454 W 45-0
Sept. 16 @ Mississippi State 133 1 137 0 270 L 27-7
Sept. 23 Syracuse 151 3 262 2 414 W 35-26
Sept. 30 Troy 162 0 266 3 428 L 24-21

LSU was held scoreless in the first half against Troy on Saturday, but responded with 21 points over the final two quarters. So, what’s plaguing this unit?

“I can’t put my finger on just one thing,” center Will Clapp said. “As an offense, we need to play better. We’re not coming out fast. We’re not doing things right in the first half and we’re burying ourselves in the second and have to come out. I feel like we’ve been taking steps in practice. I’ve been here for a while and I didn’t think we had bad practices. The guys were into it, we had energy, but when we get out here, we start a little flat. As a leader, I need to figure out how to get us going. I need to talk to guys like Danny and Foster [Moreau] and see what we need to do.”

“We were able to execute late and put together a few drives, but that’s a mindset we need to come out with,” added Chark. “When you’re behind, you want to fight hard and come back. We have to have that mindset before we get down and dig ourselves into a hole. If we play like that at the beginning of the game, I don’t think it would be close. We have to change and change our mentality.”

The LSU football team is refusing to throw in the towel on the season after the eyebrow-raising 3-2 start.

Canada’s offense will face stiff tests over the next month with road contests at Florida, Ole Miss and Alabama, with a home game against Auburn in between. Three of those opponents are ranked in the Top 25.

Rankings aside, this team is optimistic an offensive identity will help produce a more competitive team down the stretch.

“We have a lot of football to play and a lot of good teams left to play,” Etling said. “The story of our team is still being written. We’re in the beginning chapters. We have a lot of tough games and tough opponents left to face off against. Nothing is over.”

The post Struggling LSU offense has ‘some soul-searching’ to do appeared first on SEC Country.

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