Six seasons without competing for a National Championship or being remotely close to a SEC Championship for LSU fans. Offensive coordinator experiments haven’t worked out, quarterbacks are out, and Les Miles is out.

For us, the major factor has been quarterbacking.

Formerly a quarterback factory (Matty Mauck, Matt Flynn, Jamarcus Russell) LSU hasn’t had a good quarterback since the heydays of Matt Mauck, Matt Flynn and Jamarcus Russell. Jarrett Lee hardly set the world alight, Jordan Jefferson managed four years at LSU with a quarterback rating of 58.6 (that’s how bad the situation was), Zach Mettenberger had a cannon but continued to be injured, and Brandon Harris went from being part of Bruce Feldman’s book “The QB”, 2nd-ranked QB in the country out of high school, to sucking so much that he went to UNC. Oh, and Anthony Jennings was laughably bad, and Danny Etling was steady but didn’t get over the 60% completion percentage through his career. He was a safe pair of hands….but he just wasn’t very good. Maybe Myles Brennan will be the answer. Brennan was one of the nation’s best QBs coming out of high school (No.6 pro-style QB, according to ESPN), but we won’t be holding our breath.

But while we loved ‘The Cat In The Hat’, a lot of the problems for LSU at quarterback has to go on Les Miles’ hiring of offensive coordinators, which has been shambolic (for want of a more NSFW word) at best.

Ater Jimbo Fisher left, Les Miles couldn’t find another good offensive coordinator. Gary Crowton went from ‘razzle dazzle’ to damp squib (he left for Maryland in 2010), Greg Studrawa was a good offensive line coach but not OC, and Cam Cameron’s offensive ideas completely petered out – mainly because LSU couldn’t seem to coach a quarterback. Les Miles could find a good QB coach, or keep one. In 2016, Joe Alleva and Ed Orgeron hired Matt Canada. And it was an awful experiment, capped off by a loss to Notre Dame. The quarterbacking all season had been dreadful – and so had the offense. Canada’s offense averaged 56th nationally over the last two years. LSU was 39th in 2014-5 too. Eesh.

Having said that, the blame for 2017 goes to the feet of Ed Orgeron.

While the loss to Alabama was pretty expected, getting nearly embarrassed by Syracuse, getting carpet-bombed by Mississippi State (and looking terrible and undisciplined in the process), and becoming the butt of many anti-SEC jokes by losing at home to Troy. Sure, there was a great second-half performance against Auburn, and deserved wins over Texas A&M and Arkansas, but the offense wasn’t good all season long – highlighted by one of the worst games you’ll see an offense play (in victory!) at Florida. 2018 doesn’t look a whole lot better with Orgeron’s hiring of former tight ends Steve Ensminger – when there were a lot of good OCs still out to make permanent. Anyway, we still don’t understand the hiring. I mean, it’s not as bad as Arizona State’s hiring of Herm Edwards, but it seems pretty close.

Will Ensminger’s hiring help LSU get under the Alabama cloud? Alabama – under former LSU head coach Nick Saban, no less – has owned LSU recently, beating the Tigers each time in the last seven meetings – and nine out of the last 11. We think Alabama’s hiring of Mike Locksley from their staff is a much safer bet than ‘Ensie’.

Listen, it’s not as though LSU doesn’t have NFL talent. It seems as though that if you’re good at LSU, you’re going to the NFL. It’s hardly like North Texas. 42 LSU players made it onto NFL rosters in 2017. Some are legit stars (Odell Beckham Jr, Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Jarvis Landry, Leonard Fournette) and some are excellent on special teams (punter Brad Wing), and some are bit-part players. Ricky Jean-Francois (Patriots) and Jalen Mills (Eagles) are going to the Super Bowl.

The problem for LSU? The fact that LSU churns out NFL talent faster than any roster in college football – playmaker DJ Chark has gotten through his four years at LSU, but exiting as juniors (as well as Guice) will be Donte Jackson, Arden Key, Kevin Tolliver, Will Clapp and Toby Weathersby. But unlike Alabama, LSU doesn’t have the depth now to compete.

The lack of depth goes on to hit LSU’s future, and that it turn hits recruiting, too. Why? High schoolers simply don’t want to be a part of a medicore program. In 2018, LSU’s 12th overall and only 4th in the SEC, sliding from 7th nationally in 2017 and 2nd nationally in 2016. And with Georgia and Texas A&M now coming on strong (expect the Aggies to recruit well in 2019 under new coach Jimbo Fisher), it’s going to be difficult for the Tigers.

But with all of this, it still comes back to coaching. Coach Orgeron is instantly likeable and a fantastic motivator. He was loved as an interim head coach at USC and in Death Valley. But can he coach? If you look at his head coaching record, then no. It’s medicore at best, going 31-33 with one bowl record. He failed at Ole Miss, and he hasn’t exactly set the world alight in Louisiana either.

Sadly for LSU, I don’t see it improving in 2018 with Ensminger as the OC and more’s the case, Ed Orgeron.

 

 

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