The Truth: Protection Key to Unlocking Passing Game
Every Monday around here is ‘Tell the Truth Monday.’ Here’s this week’s version of The Truth, a weekly recap of Monday’s storylines through the eyes of the LSU players and coaches.
Protecting Joe Burrow – from opposition D-linemen, slow-developing plays, and his own DNA – is the primary focus of LSU’s offense heading into Saturday’s top-15 showdown with Auburn.
- The Issue: Burrow has spent large chunks of LSU’s first two games on the run or under pressure from opposing defenses.
- On one five-play sequence spanning two second-quarter drives Saturday, Southeastern sacked Burrow twice and hurried him three times, stalling an offense that raced out of the gates.
- The Fix: Ed Orgeron announced Monday he would move Austin Deculus from left tackle to right tackle to compete with Badara Traore. Deculus started Saturday on the left in place of Saahdiq Charles, who will return to left tackle against Auburn.
LSU will also mix in more empty backfield sets designed to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hand as quickly as possible, Orgeron said, while helping the tackles with chip blocks from running backs and tight ends.
“When protection isn’t great, I’ve got to get the ball out of my hand faster,” Burrow said. “When I hold the ball a little longer, they need to be a little more firm up front. We’ve got to work together.”
- CoachSpeak: “I think getting rid of the football quicker during the course of the game. I think getting the ball out of his hands, that has a lot to do with me.” – Offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger on “LSU Sixty.”
- Simply Put: “Those are all things that can be fixed.” – Offensive lineman Garrett Brumfield.
Burrow admittedly also needs to learn to protect himself, too.
The junior quarterback took several unnecessary hits on scrambles Saturday, declaring after the game: “I’m not a slider. It’s not in my DNA.”
- Audible: “I don’t know if I’ll do the Tom Brady baseball slide,” Burrow said Monday, backing off his Saturday stance, “but I’ll try to take some hits off myself, maybe not lower my head into four or five people every possession.”
- CoachSpeak: “Joe has the mentality of a fullback. He wants to go hit a linebacker. But me and Coach Ensminger are going to have a conversation with him.” – Orgeron
That said, Burrow’s legs remain a weapon LSU can – and will – use to its advantage. Negating sacks, he carried six times for 30 yards (5.0 YPC) against Southeastern, including his first career rushing touchdown.
- The Flipside: “If he’s not going to slide, we should teach him some moves other than getting flipped by the safety. I’ve seen him juke around. He’s a natural runner.” – Tight end Foster Moreau
“I don’t know if I’ll do the Tom Brady baseball slide, but I’ll try to take some hits off myself, maybe not lower my head into four or five people every possession.
I didn’t really get any yards on those. I could’ve gotten down much earlier.” – #FootballGuy Joe Burrow pic.twitter.com/p0Cce5htOY