Defense way ahead of offense after first LSU scrimmage
BATON ROUGE -- Coming into the 2018 season, LSU fans knew that the defensive side of the ball would be way ahead of the offense for a couple of reasons.
First and foremost, the Tigers lost more on that particular side of the ball in terms of talent. Secondly, the defense did not replace their co-ordinator after last season.
But after Saturday’s closed scrimmage, head coach Ed Orgeron was not as pleased with the offense as he would have liked at this point in the fall camp.
Orgeron stated there were “way too many” mistakes and penalties, including a stretch in which they had “two or three penalties back-to-back.”
And the offensive line was “not good,” Orgeron said, giving up five sacks and three tackles for a loss.
“We made some good plays, but we shot ourselves in the foot with too many penalties,” stated Orgeron, whose Tigers tied 62nd nationally in 2017 with 75 total penalties. “Really, it was a lot of offsides, holding, just penalties that we need to eliminate. First preseason game, guys are fired up, guys that want to make the depth chart, trying to do too much. We’ve got to settle down.”
Starting offensive lineman Garrett Brumfield spoke for the offensive line Monday.
“You know, we’re going against one of the best defenses in the country,” Brumfield said. “And of course guys are going to make plays. Some days, you know, the defense wins the day. Some days the offense wins the day. I think that Saturday may have just been a day that the defense happened to win.”
As far as the quarterback race is concerned, Orgeron was rather coy in his response on naming a starter at this time.
“I’m not going to tip my hand,” Orgeron said, leaning on lectern with a smile.
The LSU coach said the four players in the running — sophomore Myles Brennan, Ohio State graduate transfer Joe Burrow, junior Justin McMillan and freshman Lowell Narcisse — each split reps at starter throughout the closed scrimmage, and the stats he dictated were fairly similar.
Narcisse, who transferred on Tuesday, was the only quarterback to throw a touchdown in the scrimmage, completing 6 of 14 passes for 122 yards. Justin McMillan, who transferred to another school Wednesday morning, was 8 of 13 for 83 yards, Myles Brennan completed 5 of 10 for 94 yards and Joe Burrow went 7 of 13 for 118 yards.
In the chase for the staring running back position three players recorded stats for the scrimmage. Chris Curry toted the ball 16 times for 43 yards, Nick Brossette had 10 carries for 36 yards and Clyde Edwards-Helaire had 9 rushing attempts for 17 yards.
On the wider receiver front, Orgeron said fresh man Ja’Marr Chase, sophomore Justin Jefferson, and Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles started at wide receiver during Saturday’s scrimmage.
The 6-1, 195-pound Chase was ranked the nation’s No. 15 wide receiver by 247Sports, and as a senior at Archbishop Rummel, he caught 61 passes for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Jefferson, a 6-2, 185-pound Destrehan High grad, caught three passes for 42 yards in Saturday’s scrimmage, Orgeron said.
The 6-0, 193-pound Giles sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, and he led Texas Tech with 1,158 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in 2016.
On Wednesday, Orgeron said in order to fill a “void” at tight end, the coaching staff might move a bigger receiver over.
Orgeron said 6-6, 235-pound junior Stephen Sullivan, who had 11 catches, 219 yards and a touchdown in 2017, took snaps at tight end on Saturday.
“We will see if he can do it,” Orgeron commented. “We will see if it works.”
Despite the strides made by the defense and their performance on Saturday, one big cog in the wheel for defensive co-ordinator Dave Aranda that was missing was cornerback Greedy Williams.
However, the preseason All-American returned to practice Monday afternoon. But, the 6-3, 184-pound sophomore was wearing a gold non-contact jersey after missing two practices and Saturday’s scrimmage.
Williams, who was named First Team All-SEC as a freshman last year, did not appear limited as he ran through non-contact drills with the other corners.