HOGS: LSU inspires Hogs' Harris
FAYETTEVILLE - LSU head coach Ed Orgeron knew his offense would be different in 2019.
LSU’s offensive coordinator Joe Brady, formerly of the New Orleans Saints, meshed his Spread with holdover quarterbacks coach Steve Ensminger and QB Joe Burrow.
Burrow and Ensminger were a good combination last year when the Tigers finished 10-3 and ranked sixth and seventh in the AP and Coaches polls.
But this year with Burrow, Brady and Ensminger, LSU is not only 10–0 and No. 1 in the nation, but Burrow is the runaway leading candidate to win the Heisman Trophy. Burrow has completed 78.6 percent of his passes (268 of 341) for 3,687 yards and 38 touchdowns with six interceptions, while running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire nets 958 rushing yards on 158 carries.
“Obviously I thought we were going to be really good,“ Orgeron said, “but, to have this success, it’s much further advanced than I thought it would be. I think the speed at which they learned the Spread offense and the way it was taught, has been phenomenal.”
BULLISH ON BURROW
Phenomenal might not adequately describe Burrow, LSU’s second-year graduate transfer via Ohio State.
LSU plays host to Arkansas (2-8, 0-6 in SEC) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. ESPN will televise the SEC West game.
“It all starts with our quarterback,” Orgeron said. “He has a great head on his shoulders. He knows what to do with the ball.”
While a great passer, Burrow is a running threat who makes the trendy RPO truly a run-pass option. Talented receivers Justin Jefferson (71 catches for 1,010 yards and 11 touchdowns) and Ja’Marr Chase (57 catches for 1,116 yards and 13 TDs) spread the field and give Edwards-Helaire room to run.
“Obviously great space,” Orgeron said. “It always seems like they (opposing defenses) are a gap short. Once we can find where there’s a gap short, we hit it. Clyde has tremendous vision, and I think our offensive line has been the MVP. They’ve played well. I think the overall scheme creates space for our athletes and lets them make plays.”
Barry Lunney, UA interim head coach directing his first Razorbacks game since the Nov. 10 firing of Chad Morris, is impressed.
“They're a machine,” Lunney said. “They're well-oiled. They're confident, and they really don't have any weaknesses. They're well-coached. They've got a great quarterback with poise. They're a very good offensive team.”
And the Tigers are very good every outing. The 23-20 victory over Auburn and its salty defense marks the lowest LSU output. Other than it and a 36-13 victory over Mississippi State, LSU hasn’t scored less than 42 points and defeated reigning SEC champion Alabama 46-41. It has scored between 55 and 66 points four times.
Last Saturday, LSU amassed 714 yards total offense a 58-37 SEC success at Ole Miss.
“It's been impressive to watch through 10 games,” Lunney said. “A lot of people can have numbers, impressive numbers through five games, but to do it 10 games deep into this season and the gamut they've had to run, I think speaks volumes for how effective they are offensively.”
LSU has defeated Alabama, ranked No. 2 nationally, No. 7 Florida, ninth-ranked Auburn, and Texas.
It all sounds too overwhelming for Arkansas, according to oddsmakers deeming LSU a 44-point favorite.
Lunney asserts he just wants the Hogs playing “their best game of the year” in Baton Rouge regardless the outcome.
He knows he’s got at least one senior leader, linebacker De’Jon “Scoota” Harris (in Craven Whitlow photo above), determined to inspire all to do just that. The Harvey, La., native returns to his home state under LSU’s legendary Death Valley nighttime atmosphere.
“That was the first thing he said he was embracing, the game at night and hoping to experience that,” Lunney said. “If you are going to go do it, he wanted to do it with the whole enchilada so to speak. He’s been really focused along with all of them, but he’s led that charge in a lot of ways. There are others: (Louisiana born become Razorbacks) Joe Foucha, Andrew Parker, Greg Brooks .. this is important to them, also. But this is Scoota’s last time to suit up against them. We’re taking all of our guys to give their best. That’s all we want, to give their best.”
Lunney put the Razorbacks through an entirely closed practice Thursday.