It’s a question everyone wants to know. What is the LSU offense going to look like?
With a new offensive coordinator in Matt Canada, the Tigers offense will make its season debut against BYU (1-0) Saturday night in a primetime game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.
Canada, comes from Pittsburgh where the Panthers finished Top 10 in the nation last year by averaging more than 41 points per game. Quarterback Nathan Peterman was also taken in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft to the Buffalo Bills. Statistically speaking, Peterman (163.4) had a better ACC quarterback ratio than No. 1 pick Mitchell Trubisky (158.3), Deshaun Watson (151.1) and Lamar Jackson (148.8).
Safe to say, there was a reason why LSU head coach Ed Orgeron brought Canada to Baton Rouge. With an offense that has been stagnant over the last couple of years, Orgeron, who is going into his first full year, wants to transform the run-heavy scheme into more of a spread offense.
As for Canada, it does not matter what type of offense he runs as he can adjust it to fit the team whether it is a pro-style, spread, or air raid as he has been highly successful in his stops at Pitt, Wisconsin, Indiana, NC State and Northern Illinois.
So what makes Canada so good?
First, he’s creative and loves making defenses second guess themselves. Canada is always putting guys in motion and is constantly using multiple sets for each play to cause as much confusion at the line of scrimmage for opposing defenses as possible. He’s also creative too as evident by his famous throwback play last at Pitt for a touchdown.
Second, Canada loves using pre-snap movements to read defenses and to create mismatches. The offense is designed so that no matter if the defense has the right call in place, the offense can quickly adjust to a different play using a different formation. Communication for defenses is put to the ultimate test as they must adjust on the fly.
And with all kinds of talent at his disposal in Baton Rouge, Canada will have more than he has ever had to work with to turn LSU’s offensive program around. The video below shows Canada’s genius strategy.
The Cougars were ranked in the top 3 in the county last year in turnovers forced (31). BYU is already plus-1 in the turnover margin category this year after a win over Portland State.
BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki made a strong impression in his first season last year as saw the Cougar defense become of the nations best allowing just 19.5 points per game. BYU’s run defense was ninth in the country allowing just 113 yards per game.
Danny Etling who started 10 games last season, beat out freshman quarterback Myles Brennan for the starting spot against the Cougars. With still some uncertainty at the position, it remains to be seen how much Canada allows him to throw the ball in the season opener with All-American running back Derrius Guice in the backfield. The Cougars have always been good against stopping the run, but its pass defense has always struggled.
With a number of starters graduated from last year’s defense — Harvey Langi, Sae Tautu, Logan Taele and Travis Tuiloma — guys like Trajan Pili (a sack and two tackles for loss) and Corbin Kaufusi, whose brother is in the NFL, will need to have big games. Last year, Kaufusi starting five games and recording 31 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
The biggest news for Cougar fans is that linebacker/defensive end Sione Takitaki is back after sitting out last year. The junior made a big impact last week in the season opener as he recorded seven tackles and had two sacks.
LSU comes in as a two touchdown favorite over BYU. This isn’t surprising considering how sloppy the Cougars looked against FCS foe Portland State last week. The Cougars likely overlooked the game while the Vikings had the contest circled on their calendar ever since the game was announced.
LSU has a lot to prove after losing last year’s season-opening game to Wisconsin where the Tigers managed to put up just 14 points. I expect the Tigers to have some stumbling blocks with it being the first game of the season. Having already played a game, the Cougars have an advantage as they work out the first game kinks and jitters.
At the same time, LSU’s offense should be dramatically better this season compared to past year’s. However, will that improvement be reflected in the first game of the season, or will the Tigers need a couple of games to gel together? Either way, Canada will bring excitement back to the Tiger offense and will look to make the most of his season debut against the Cougars.