5 things that will define LSU's offense in 2021
LSU has a new offensive coordinator and a new passing game coordinator.
It has spirited competition among four talented quarterbacks.
It has a veteran offensive line and a bevy of talented receivers and running backs.
It has the potential to have a highly productive offense in 2021.
It will need a highly productive offense in order to surpass its 5-5 record in 2020 and conjure memories of the 2019 national championship season.
Here are 5 things that will define LSU offensively in 2021:
Will it look like Joe Brady’s offense?
To be fair, Steve Ensminger was the offensive coordinator and Brady was his helper as passing game coordinator in 2019.
But it was the introduction of Brady’s passing game into Ensminger’s offense that defined the Tigers’ record-setting offense during their championship run.
New offensive coordinator Jake Peetz and new passing game coordinator DJ Mangas were hired because they worked under Brady with the Carolina Panthers last season.
Brady’s influence on this program is undeniable and after the LSU spring game, coach Ed Orgeron referenced the return of “the Joe Brady offense.”
So the success of the 2019 offense continues to hover over the program. That’s neither good nor bad. It’s just reality.
The system Brady learned from New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton features 4- and 5-receiver sets, running backs and tight ends lined up wide, maximizing the chances of creating favorable matchups.
Orgeron hired Peetz and Mangas to replicate Brady’s schemes – and the 2019 offense’s success.
How well this offense resembles that one – and more importantly how well these players execute it compared to the 2019 players’ performances – will be the No. 1 factor in evaluating the offense this season.
Are there enough receivers ready to handle the workload?
In order for the Joe Brady 2.0 offense to thrive, the Tigers have to have players who can handle the roles – primarily the wide receivers.
Kayshon Boutte is poised to have an All-America-caliber season as a sophomore and senior Jontre Kirklin was outstanding in the spring game.
LSU has a bunch of other talented receivers, but they’ll need a few inexperienced players to have the physical and mental maturity to make the scheme work as Orgeron envisions.
The running back’s or backs’ versatility
The Tigers might have a featured back or more likely they will have a committee of running backs who will get significant playing time.
How the playing time is divvied up is less important than the productivity that the position yields.
The spotlight will be on the passing game, but the running game has to be successful as well. LSU has to run the ball consistently well, but running backs will also be counted on to produce as pass catchers and blockers.
The offensive line’s toughness and consistency
The Tigers had insufficient continuity on the offensive line last season. They’ll need more this season.
They return 5 starters, so the experience level is good. The depth is questionable.
If the 5 starters can stay on the field for the majority of the season, the line could be a strength. If not, the line could be problematic.
All of the other stuff about the Brady passing game and balance from the running game is contingent on the line being intact and performing at a consistently high level.
The leadership of the quarterback
The starter is probably going to be Myles Brennan or Max Johnson.
Just as the passing game and the offense will be compared to the passing game and the offense of 2019, so too will this year’s quarterback be compared to Joe Burrow and his historic Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2019.
It’s highly unlikely that anyone will come close to matching Burrow’s statistics.
But the numbers are only part of the evaluation.
Burrow was a leader. His performance on the field was a big part of that, but so too was the way he behaved in practice and other workouts as well as how he interacted with his teammates away from the spotlight.
Whether it’s Brennan or Johnson or TJ Finley or Garrett Nussmeier or some combination, whoever leads the LSU offense has to lead the team effectively on and off the field.