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LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada and LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes speak on the field before kickoff against Mississippi State, Saturday, September 16, 2017, at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field in Starkville, Ms.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

David Ducre got wide open.

This is exactly how LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada hoped to open the Tigers’ first full drive of the game last week against Syracuse: a big completion from quarterback Danny Etling to his versatile F-back, Ducre.

There was just one problem (remember that number — one): Right tackle Toby Weathersby, aligned to the left in an unbalanced line, lost a pass-rushing battle on the edge, and Etling, within 2 seconds of the snap, was clobbered for a sack.

A potential explosive play turned quickly into a disappointment.

The play was schemed well. Syracuse linebackers bit on a play-action pass to leave Ducre. All other linemen won their blocks, and Etling had his eyes on Ducre, just about to rear back and throw.

Then that one problem happened.

Players say the offensive struggles in the first half of the season can be boiled down to one player on each (bad) play.

“On offense, you’ve got to have all 11 guys doing their job,” F-back JD Moore said. “Ten out of 11 could be doing great. You might come to the sideline frustrated because you did your job well and you’re scratching your head about who didn’t. As we watch the film, it’s not one guy the whole time. It’s one different guy every play.”

Through four games, many of them have come on the offensive line. That’s no secret. Weathersby’s miscue is just an example. LSU quarterbacks were pressured on 14 of their 25 dropbacks — a 56 percent pressure rate — against Syracuse. Not Auburn, Alabama or Florida (the teams that await the Tigers), but Syracuse. Six of the 14 pressures came on third down.

There was the one in which left tackle KJ Malone didn’t handle his man on the outside, leading to an incompletion, and another in which right guard Adrian Magee let a man slip by him. The blips weren’t relegated to passing. On a third-and-short later in the game, freshman Ed Ingram thought he was supposed to pull on the play. Defenders burst through Ingram’s vacated spot, burying running back Derrius Guice.

So what’s behind the miscues — those one, single fouls on each play? Specifically with the offensive line, it is losing one-on-battles and poor technique, head coach Ed Orgeron said.

What can LSU do about it?

“If you start chipping (the running back) to help the left tackle, and you start keeping the tight end to help the right tackle, then you've only got three receivers in the route and you're limited,” he said. “So we need to do better jobs on one-on-ones. We need to (pick up the blitz from) the inside linebackers. There were a couple of miscommunications in our protection. But the ones we're most disappointed on are the techniques and the one-on-ones.”

Teams are beginning to notice the O-line woes. The Orange and their coaches watched LSU struggle to routinely block four pass rushers against Mississippi State so they decided to up the ante — they sent at least six rushers on 11 of those 14 pressures. They outnumbered LSU pass blockers on four of those occasions.

“We have things in our offense built to help that,” center Will Clapp said when asked about being out-numbered. “We’ll take more looks at that.”


BLOCKING WOES

LSU quarterbacks were pressured on 14 of 25 dropbacks against Syracuse. 

 Down

 LSU blockers

 Syracuse rushers

 Closest LSU blocker

 Pressure from

 Play result

  1st-10

 7

 6

 RT Weathersby

 Left

 Sack

 3rd-14

 6

 6

 LT Malone

 Left

 Incompletion

 3rd-5

 5

 4

 LG Brumfield

 Left

 Incompletion (PI flag)

 3rd-10

 6

 3

 RG Ingram

 Right/Center

 +6 pass

 2nd-8

 7

 6

 RB Williams

 Left

 Incompletion

 2nd-4

 5

 6

 LG Brumfield (out-numbered)

 Left

 +5 run (QB scramble)

 3rd-7

 6

 6

 ?

 Left

 +13 pass

 3rd-6

 6

 6

 RB Guice

 Right

 Incompletion

 1st-10

 7

 6

 RB Williams/TE Moreau

 Left

 Sack

 2nd-7

 5

 5

 RT Weathersby

 Right

 +3 pass*

 3rd-3

 5

 6

 RT Weathersby (out-numbered)

 Right

 +43 pass*

 1st-10

 7

 6

 RG Magee

 Right/Center

 Incompletion*

 1st-10

 5

 6

 C Clapp (out-numbered)

 Center

 +7 yards*

 2nd-10

 5

 6

 RT Weathersby/RB Williams (out-numbered)

 Right

 +8 run (QB scamper)

 *Myles Brennan 

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.