X-factor LSU: Success of offense determined by offensive line play
In preparation for the 2014 college football season, Saturday Down South takes a look at the X factor for every SEC team. Not only do these players have the opportunity to make major contributions for their respective squads, but they could also be the difference in a successful season or a losing season.
Today, we’re discussing the X factor for the LSU Tigers.
- OLE MISS
- MISSISSIPPI STATE
- SOUTH CAROLINA
- TEXAS A&M
The entire offensive line
Usually the X-factor for a team is a singular player, but it’s more appropriate that the entire offensive line is the X-factor for the LSU Tigers this season.
Anchored by seniors La’el Collins and Elliot Porter, the offensive line will be responsible for protecting LSU’s most valuable offensive assets. The difference in LSU’s offense this season is that it is dominated by younger talent. At quarterback, Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris are battling for the starting spot, but Jennings is only a sophomore with limited experience and Harris is a true freshman. Throughout the rest of the offense, freshmen like running back Leonard Fournette, and wide receivers John Diarse and Malachi Dupre will all see significant playing time.
The lack of experience at the offensive skill positions enhances even more the importance of LSU’s offensive line. They return four starts and will instantly be one of the top offensive lines in the SEC. Their performance will be especially important for the quarterbacks. No matter how good the player, adjusting to being a starting quarterback in the SEC will not be an instant transformation. They’ll be prone to mistakes and making rash decisions, which is why the more comfort this experienced offensive line can provide for either Jennings or Harris, the quicker they can settle in to leading the offense.
While senior Terrance McGee will get the initial starting reps at running back for the Tigers, true freshman Leonard Fournette will get a lot of carries. As good as Fournette was in high school and as good as the hype as been for him entering this season, he is still an unproven back in the SEC. He’s still a freshman and will still make freshman mistakes. Much like with the quarterbacks, the experienced line for LSU will play a big factor in accelerating Fournette’s comfort level on the field.
Studs like Fournette, Dupri, Jennings and Harris will dominate the LSU story lines, but their offensive line play is the most important aspect of this team. The success of LSU’s young and talented offensive skill players directly falls on the performances of guys like Collins, Porter, Vidal and the rest of the “hogmollies” in the trenches.