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Optimism On Offense

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There is optimism this late summer that LSU's offense will approach the level of potential to which it has consistently recruited.  A second-year senior starter at quarterback, a cache of cut-above running backs, returning starters at each wide receiver position with some much-needed additional speed in reserve, and a relatively inexperienced but talented offensive line are reasons to expect prosperity.

And, of course, there is the presence of first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, fresh from the NFL and a resume replete with developing several top-drawer college and professional quarterbacks.  Could this be the year that the Tigers roar offensively?

If LSU is to shed its image that it wins only by defense, there are some key subject areas that must be addressed.  The first -- and there can be no doubt that this is priority No. 1 -- is touchdown making in the red zone.  It was a place from which the Tigers had the third lowest TD total in the SEC a season ago.

Last year the Tigers in SEC competition were the only team in the league to total more field goals than touchdowns in the red zone.  Considering that LSU takes considerable pride in its running game, conventionally thought to be a necessary enabler for red-zone success, this is an especially surprising and disturbing fact.  It has not gone unnoticed by the LSU coaching staff, and this an area on which Cameron can have a direct impact with creative play calling and an attack approach.

LSU also must make better it's passing game, especially achieving the end zone.  Only three wide receivers caught TD passes last year, led by Jarvis Landry's five.  And in SEC games the Tigers scored only five times aerially against four interceptions.  Not often did LSU's passing game have a bearing on the outcome, except to make the margin of victory in most of the 10 wins much more nail-biting than necessary.  LSU finished near the bottom of the league in passing rating and passing yards per game.

For the record, LSU was ninth among SEC schools with 22.5 points per game in 2012. 

A couple of other areas worthy of LSU's offensive attention are "distance" plays and penalties.  Not only were the Tigers near the bottom of the league in passing yardage per game, they were ninth in the number of rushes of more than 10 yards during the season and had less than half the total of league-leading Alabama.  LSU also finished the year with the second-highest penalty yardage per game.

So, how did LSU fashion 10 victories and come a scant 12 points short of a perfect regular season?  One significant reason was an SEC-best plus-12 turnover margin.  This season the challenge to the LSU offense is to convert those turnovers into many more touchdowns.

There has been much indication from coaches and players in pre-season camp that there will be a new flair to the LSU offense -- quicker tempo at times, more frequent use of play-action, a vertical passing game, and pass-catching tight ends.  If it comes about, the Tigers will be a legitimate SEC championship contender.

By: Lyn Rollins


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