Les Miles stuck with an offensive philosophy that wasn’t working and got fired by LSU. Interim coach Ed Orgeron has scratched that and brought in a new plan.
One of the major reasons Les Miles was shown the door out of Baton Rouge was the lack of offense that the Tigers have put on the field over the last few seasons. LSU has struggled to put up points despite an array of talent.
According to Chris Blair, the Voice of the Tigers, Miles may have relied too much on the legs of All-American running back Leonard Fournette.
“I think Coach Miles, being a former offensive lineman at Michigan, over the last three years, including the four games this year, felt like he had the best running back in the country,” Blair told the Gator Nation Football Podcast. “He certainly had a pretty good argument there in Leonard Fournette and there was no reason, I think in his mind, not to feature Leonard as much as possible. So I think there was always this desire to control the ground game from the offensive line standpoint and allow Leonard to have 25, 28, 30 carries a game.”
Defenses, seeing the dependence on the running game and the ineffectiveness of quarterbacks, would take advantage, often putting as many players in the box as possible.
“Teams began to wonder whether or not they can throw side-to-side, throw underneath and in the middle of the field and whether they could throw vertically down the field and were willing to hedge their bets that they would stick to running between the tackles. During the first four weeks of this season, there were eight, nine, 10 men in the tackle box from Wisconsin, Jacksonville State, Mississippi State, and, of course, against Auburn.”
What worked for Miles in the past – he won 114 games, two SEC titles, and a national championship – had suddenly become his downfall, as he refused to change his offensive philosophy, even sticking with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. That move ended up getting them both fired.
Now, with interim coach Ed Orgeron in charge, Blair describes how the offense has changed in such a short amount of time.
“The philosophy change going into the matchup against Mizzou was to try to even up the numbers in the tackle box, and they did that by making the defense honor four-wide sets. It is hard to sneak guys into the tackle box when you have to cover those guys that are spread across the field. In and of itself, the biggest major change from the eye test was a lot of the formations that Coach Orgeron and Coach Ensminger put into place this past week against Mizzou.”
The change turned out to work against Missouri, as the Tigers put up 42 points and a whooping 634 yards. Blair said that the difference in the team didn’t begin during the game, but earlier in the week.
“It’s not just what you saw on Saturday. The change was in the air Monday when the Tigers came out to practice. It’s just a different mentality. It’s more rah-rah and more of a players’ feel. Face it, Coach Orgeron has been known everywhere he’s been in the coaching ranks as a players’ coach.”