LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte has been electric. Can the rest of the offense follow?
LSU coach Ed Orgeron knows what he wants from the offense. All the choice buzzwords have flown freely since UCLA humbled the Tigers 38-27 to start the season.
None of those descriptors are accurate through two games.
McNeese State was supposed to be the launchpad. LSU (1-1) had 17 points at halftime instead in a 34-7 victory. Only one such opportunity remains before SEC play begins — and that's Saturday (6:30 p.m., SEC Network) against Central Michigan (1-1) at Tiger Stadium.
“I feel like as players we just have to execute the plays a little quicker and faster,” wide receiver Kayshon Boutte said. “It’s like accountability on everybody’s part. As receivers we can catch more balls and I always feel like I could do more.”
Boutte has five touchdown receptions. He’s doing his part. The other 10 players must be better around him. And that starts with the coaching staff putting them in better positions to be successful.
“The offense is not performing like we want to perform right now and that’s obvious,” Orgeron said. “I’ve got to do a better job coaching. We have to get some things wrinkled out, got to fix stuff and I think we will do that.”
Orgeron has emphasized tempo during meetings with the offensive staff. LSU dedicated at least one practice period to up-tempo, no huddle offense this week.
Not all of LSU’s struggles fall on Orgeron or offensive coordinator Jake Peetz. The offensive line remains in flux from injury and staff attrition. Orgeron parted ways with offensive line coach James Cregg in June and hired Baton Rouge-native Brad Davis away from Arkansas. The Tigers have allowed seven sacks so far this season.
Cregg has filed a lawsuit against LSU for breach of contract.
Starters Austin Deculus (right tackle), Chasen Hines (right guard) and Cam Wire (left tackle) did not play against McNeese. Wire is out against Central Michigan, while Deculus and Hines are expected to play.
“Something that Coach Davis has stressed to us is everyone is held to the same standard,” center Liam Shanahan said. “Once someone gets the game, even if they’re not the Day 1 starter from fall camp, they’re held to the same standard. That can’t be an excuse for any struggles that we might have had.”
Quarterback Max Johnson was solid against McNeese after looking rattled against UCLA. He finished 18-of-27 for 162 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers could have been better if not for a few drops and busted assignments in pass protection.
“We really talk about (drops) and preach about it every day,” Boutte said. “We’re doing everything we can do to improve on it like catching balls after practice and practicing more with the quarterbacks.”
While Boutte caught two touchdowns against McNeese, freshman Jack Bech led LSU with four receptions for 57 yards. The true freshmen running back duo of Armoni Goodwin and Corey Kiner also made their debuts. Kiner ran for a team-high 57 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.
Shanahan is tasked with stabilizing the offensive line until other veterans return. Xavier Hill (left tackle), Marlon Martinez (right guard) and Charles Turner (right tackle) were pressed into starts last week.
Central Michigan is LSU’s last chance to tune up before the schedule gets much tougher. Should the Tigers stall again, the question becomes if, not when, this offense will pack any sort of punch this season.
“I do believe we have the athletes on offense that can go,” Orgeron said. “It all starts with protection first and that’s mainly where our breakdowns have been. Now the wide receivers missed a couple ball but those guys are fantastic.
“I do believe that we can get the ball to our playmakers better in space and let them play and hopefully we can make some improvement at it this week.”
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