Check With Me

Everyone expected to see changes on the defensive side of the ball for LSU in 2009 with the influx of new coaches. Few, however, anticipated that Gary Crowton's offense would look as different as it has in two games compared to his first two years in Baton Rouge.

After week one, LSU’s defense was the hot topic of discussion after yielding 478 yards of offense to Washington. Only allowing 210 yards to Vanderbilt the following week has taken some of the heat off of defensive coordinator John Chavis, and shifted it to the other side of the ball towards offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.  


Granted, it’s only through two contests, but LSU’s offense is ranked in the bottom third of the Southeastern Conference in the four major statistical categories that fans pay the most attention to.


LSU is ninth in scoring offense at 27 points a game and eleventh in total offense at 323.5 yards an outing. The Tigers are balanced as they average 163.5 yards on the ground and 160 yards through the air, but those marks put them ninth and tenth in the league, respectively.


Gameweek Links:
  • TSD Television: Jordan Jefferson
  • TSD Television: Charles Scott
  • Changing Roles
  • You Always Remember Your First
  • Continued Improvement
  • TSD Television: R.J. Jackson
  • TSD Television: Jacob Cutrera
  • A Look Ahead: ULL
  • LSU moved the ball more consistently and put up flashier numbers to open the season last year, but comparing the offensive output in the first two games of the 2008 season to this year wouldn’t provide an accurate assessment.


    Sure, LSU’s offense averaged 442 total yards and 41 points a game heading into week three, but the Tigers did that at home and against FCS opponent Appalachian State and North Texas – two teams that finished the year 11-3 and 1-11, respectively.


    LSU’s first two opponents in the ’09 season are light years ahead of the two teams it faced last year. There may be some argument as to whether Washington is head and shoulders above Appalachian State, but the odds of that Mountaineer squad going out to Seattle and beating the Huskies this year in the season opener are very remote.


    One of the most prevalent arguments that one will hear about the Tiger offense this year centers around Crowton’s implementation of a no-huddle attack, commonly referred to as ‘check with me’.


    The Tigers have rarely called their plays in a huddle which is the traditional way of doing things on the gridiron. Instead, the play gets delivered to quarterback Jordan Jefferson from new personnel that enter the game or they get the plays signaled in from the sideline with the players at the line of scrimmage.


    The wide receivers get their signals from a position coach, while Jefferson gets his signals from a graduate assistant then relays the call to the offensive linemen as well as the running backs.


    Sounds easy enough, but it goes a little bit deeper.

    Gary Crowton has the Tigers running a no-huddle attack

    Crowton has plenty of time on the clock to call an audible since the Tigers are not spending any time in the huddle. Jefferson will then get his check signaled in and go through the process of letting the linemen and backs know their role.


    Some feel that LSU’s issues on offense stem from this new look that the Tigers are showing, and that it places an added burden on Jefferson who has started just four games at the college level. But those who actually play in the offense feel differently on the subject.


    “It’s a lot easier than calling the play in the huddle then going to the line to try and check it,” said senior running back Charles Scott. “Seeing the defense that they are in then calling a play based on that is a big advantage to our offense.”


    Senior tight end Richard Dickson admits that it took some getting used to in fall camp, but everyone is growing more and more comfortable with the change by the day.


    “When we first started it for the first couple of days, learning all of the signals was a pain. But once you figure that out it’s really not that bad,” said Dickson. “Once everyone is on the same page it’s really quite easy, and everyone seems to have adapted well. It seems like we’re in a big hurry and people are scrambling, but you’re not in a hurry because you have 40 seconds from when they spot the ball and then you’re already at the line. It actually gives us more time than before.”


    The person at the center of all this is Jefferson and he doesn’t seem fazed.


    The sophomore gunslinger is completing 64.6 percent of his passes – 31-of-48 – whereas last year he was good on only 49.3 percent. He says that he feels a lot more comfortable with the playbook, and feels that the no-huddle is a good fit for him and the Tigers.


    “I like the no-huddle,” he said. “It gets us out quicker and it keeps the defense on its heels. Getting into the huddle is kind of old fashioned and it takes a lot of time. We try to be quick about it and get out and get some yards.”


    Being quick to the line puts the defense at a disadvantage and can make things easier for Jefferson when it comes to reading coverages and figuring out where the rush is coming from.


    “With those quick calls we sometimes catch the defense off guard,” he said. “We caught Vanderbilt off guard a couple of times where they were still getting their signals from their coordinators while we were lining up to run the play. It doesn’t give them a lot of time and they can’t really stay focused on what they’re trying to do since they’re still trying to get the play.”


    The Tigers did not gouge the Commodore defense for big plays when they were caught off guard and Dickson feels that may have something to do with the perception of the offense in the early going.


    “We’ve been moving the ball, but it seems that we’ve always had critical mistakes on a drive that just stop it,” he said. “We’re doing good things but we’re missing big plays, so maybe that’s why people think there’s a problem.”


    But one thing that isn’t a problem for the Tigers is the way that a young 19-year old Jefferson has handled his duties thus far.


    “He looks like a man out there,” said senior wide receiver R.J. Jackson. “He’s in complete control and he knows where to go with the ball. He makes his decisions so quick and they’ve all been great decisions.”

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