Next Level: How LSU will adjust without Moore
Right guard Will Clapp and tight end Colin Jeter ran from the right side of the line to the left at the snap. They each handled a South Carolina defender, creating a lane for running back Leonard Fournette.
The Tigers’ Heisman Trophy frontrunner hit the hole, made one juke and raced the other 80 yards untouched for a touchdown.
What you didn’t find on the running back’s 87-yard score against South Carolina? A fullback.
LSU better get used to it. Starting FB JD Moore, suffering from a knee injury, will miss the game against No. 8 Florida on Saturday night. He could miss several more weeks, too.
What does this mean for LSU’s offense? A key piece is gone, and the Tigers’ game plan is likely to involve more shotgun and one-back formations — fullback-less sets. That’s what we saw after Moore went down on the first drive of LSU’s 45-24 win over South Carolina.
The Tigers didn’t use a fullback on Fournette’s gut-busting 87-yarder — which came out of the shotgun. Jeter, in many ways, serves as a fullback from his tight end or H-back position on those plays, and Clapp, the team’s go-to run-blocker, leads the way through the hole.
Expect to see more of that with the loss of Moore. LSU is expecting to regain 310-pound tight end Dillon Gordon for the game. That should help, but Jeter still serves as LSU’s No. 2 tight end, and he’ll need to improve in his blocking from the past two games.
Bry’Kiethon Mouton is set to replace Moore, but he’s low on experience. The gap between the two seems fairly wide.
1. Major adjustment
Florida’s Cinderella start could turn into an October pumpkin with the suspension of starting QB Will Grier. Replacement Treon Harris is plenty experienced (eight starts), but while he has the mobility to give LSU fits, he doesn’t have the arm to stretch out the Tigers vertically as Grier might have. A small but important edge to LSU.
2. Bad lieutenant
LSU took the “special” out of special teams last week against South Carolina. The Tigers were woeful on kickoffs and in kickoff coverage, resorting to squib kicks after the first KO return vs. LSU in Tiger Stadium since 1999. Les Miles said there was more emphasis on special teams this week and didn’t rule out personnel changes.
3. General Mills
Safety Jalen Mills (ankle) is the quarterback of the LSU secondary but hasn’t played a down in 2015. He could return Saturday, giving a much needed experience and organizational boost to a pass defense that gave up pass plays of 42, 22, 36 and 43 yards to South Carolina. Mills also plays nickel in the five-DB set.
4. Captain America
Leonard Fournette has started 2015 on a superhero pace, just the 11th FBS player to reach 1,000 yards in his first five games and the first in SEC history. Florida’s defense, allowing 99.2 ypg rushing, promises to be his biggest test to date, though it’s worth remembering he ran for a then-career-high 140 yards and two TDs at Florida last season.