Barry Sieu - USA Today Sports

Take a look: LSU's offense in Week 1 vs. Wisconsin - The Good, Bad and Ugly

Christian takes a trip back to Lambeau Field for this week's The Good, Bad and Ugly of LSU's offense against Wisconsin.

What happened?

  • LSU 14, Wisconsin 16
  • LSU (0-1) lost its first season-opening game — 14-16 against unranked Wisconsin (1-0) — since 2002, when Virginia Tech throttled the Tigers 8-26 in Blackburg, Virginia, on Sept. 1 that year.
  • Saturday's loss was LSU coach Les Miles' first season-opening loss during his time in Baton Rouge (11-1). 
  • LSU's former 52-0 non-conference, regular-season win streak — an FBS record — ended at Lambeau Field.

How, you ask?

Many things, Miles said.

The offense, which we'll dissect today, played a hefty role in the defeat.  LSU's defense did too, but we'll talk about that later this week.

The Good

Let's jump to LSU's only offensive scoring drive — a two-play drive, spanning 18 seconds — initiated by Donte Jackson's forced fumble on Wisconsin's 41-yard line.

Reminder: this begins three plays and a kickoff after Tre'Davious White returned an interception for six points, LSU's first score of the day. Momemtum is brewing.

https://vine.co/v/55iwmnzMpEJ

  • LSU has two receivers spread left. Leonard Fournette lines up behind J.D. Moore. The first key for LSU: Make Wisconsin bite on the play action. It did, somewhat. With two receivers out left and Moore headed right after the snap, LSU disguises the play as a misdirection run. LSU's receivers head to the right side of the field with their routes, dragging Wisconsin's defensive backs with them. It's 1-on-1 for Fournette against Wisconsin's now-shifted zone defense. Fournette, aligned against a linebacker, gets the bite on the out-the-backfield screen and shoots up the left sideline for the old-fashioned wheel route. A lofty, touch pass from Harris later, and LSU nears the 10-yard line.

https://vine.co/v/55iwrdKWw3V

  • The next play, Wisconsin takes its time getting aligned on defense. LSU notices and speeds things up. After realizing Wisconsin went back in a zone defense, LSU quickly snaps and Harris dumps a pass to Travin Dural on a flare screen with field ahead of him. Had Wisconsin safety D'Cota Dixon not missed the tackle, LSU may not have scored, but, Dural squeaks past Dixon on a stutter step and scores LSU's first offensive score of the season.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Bad

Brandon Harris' accuracy wasn't up to par. LSU's play calling wasn't the most suitable for Harris to find a groove, either.

Let's skip to Harris' first three passes of the season —  LSU's three-and-out, second drive in the first quarter.

https://twitter.com/CBoutwell_/status/772926035314618368

https://twitter.com/CBoutwell_/status/772926894597562368

https://twitter.com/CBoutwell_/status/772927394139078656

Was it nerves? Possibly. Harris didn't seem to scan the field and survey his options during his mid-play reads early on. Broken pass coverage rushed Harris, too — leading to off-target throws.

The Ugly

LSU's veteran offensive line seemed to struggle the most of all LSU's position groups on offense. 

The Tigers' lineman, which returned three starters from last season, seemed confused at their assignments at times, leading to enhanced quarterback pressure and fewer open holes for Fournette to run.

Why?

A theory: Throughout camp, LSU has had on-going position battles on the offensive line, leading the split — but, more significantly, fewer — repetitions against tougher competition. On Saturday, LSU continued the split some snaps, especially at right tackle between Toby Weathersby and Maea Teuhema. Did this make LSU's lineman unready for the stringent replication of multiple plays a drive often possesses? It is possible.

Another theory: LSU, which has promised offensive changes since last season, was a bit different — in regards to new strategy — from last season to an extent on Saturday. New plays have been implemented, leading to the learning, or re-learning, process. Have the Tigers completely learned all of the offense's new changes at this point? It's the first game — bumps in the road occur, especially with new material. And even more largely along the offensive line, whose assignments and directions are the toughest to understand and execute within an offense.

  • One example: In Harris' third throw again shown below, LSU's offensive line featured one, or more, missed assignments, leading to Harris escaping the pocket and overthrowing Dupre. Once the ball was snapped, Clapp and Malone seem to be on the same page about doubling Wisconsin's defensive tackle. Clapp gets the inside, forcing the defensive lineman toward Malone who has since ejected from the assignment, now playing catch-up to deflect the defensive end — Fournette's assigned man. 

https://twitter.com/CBoutwell_/status/772927394139078656

Barry Sieu - USA Today Sports

You can follow Christian Boutwell on Twitter, @CBoutwell_


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