JD Moore felt different when he awoke Sunday morning.
His legs weren’t throbbing at the rate they usually do after a college football game. Neither were his shoulders or arms or back.
“Definitely less sore after this past game,” the LSU senior said.
The crazy thing: He estimates he played more in the Tigers’ season-opening win over BYU — about three of every four snaps — than he did in previous games.
Welcome to Matt Canada’s offense, where an old fullback like Moore can still be of use. Moore traded in those downhill fullback blocks from the Tigers’ previous offensive scheme for a more delicate style of bashing from his new position: the F-back, a hybrid spot in Canada’s new system that blends the duties of a fullback, tight end, H-back and even wide receiver.
Moore lined up as a receiver about nine times in last week’s opener. He caught one pass and was an intended target on another. He even took a handoff on a jet sweep, wheeling behind center for a carry on third-and-goal from the 3-yard line. He gained 1 yard.
“It was nice,” a smiling Moore said, “but at the same time, (I) had the ball and couldn’t get into the end zone.”
Canada didn’t reveal much about his new offense in Game 1 — don’t expect that to change Saturday against Chattanooga in the home opener — but light was shed on that new position, where it aligns and how it’s used.
Moore’s fullback duties from LSU’s I-formation scheme transferred over. His primary role at F-back is the same as he had at fullback: Serve as the lead blocker on rushing plays.
There are two main differences: where he blocks from (mostly at that wing spot instead of behind the quarterback) and how he does it. He explained the latter.
“I’m not running 5 yards and then hitting (a defender),” Moore said. “We’re more hand-to-hand. It’s a different technique. Over the course of camp and, really, over the course of spring and summer, I adjusted to it.”
Matt Canada planned his opening act for a month.
Hand-to-hand is much better on his body than, say, shoulder-to-shoulder or, of course, head-to-head. The running lanes in this offense are different, more open and roomy. Thus, the blocking is, too.
The F-back is all encompassing. Foster Moreau, a tight end, plays the position as well. In fact, Moreau and Moore were packaged together on dozens of plays, mainly stacked behind each other at the end of the offensive line — Moreau in a traditional tight end spot, Moore just off the line in the wing position.
They were split out wide or in a slot receiver position a combined 22 times, about half of those side-by-side as beefy receivers. The average height for the pair is 6-foot-5. Their average weight is 245 pounds.
Surely you didn’t miss them, the two giants out wide standing next to each other and then racing downfield on a passing route.
“It’s a versatile look,” Moreau smiled.
It causes matchup problems. It’s why you often saw them split out at receiver during the team’s hurry-up mode, which players refer to as “fastballs.” Canada sometimes switches to fastballs after long gains.
That happened Saturday at least four times. Running back Darrel Williams ripped off a 16-yard first-down run, and the Tigers rushed downfield, quickly got set and snapped the ball again — Moore and Moreau split out wide running routes against a smaller defender, because the defense couldn’t substitute.
“It puts defenses in a bind, because they can’t exactly change personnel on the fly,” Moore said. “They may have a heavy personnel or package in there on a third-and-short, and then we can come back at them on a first down.”
Ed Orgeron won’t be the only Cajun playing a prominent role at LSU football games this season.
If the defense can change personnel to combat the big boys out wide, who would it insert? It’s not always an easy answer, quarterback Danny Etling said.
The versatility of Moore and Moreau is their strength. They can bunch up together in goal-line rushing formations and be used as blockers. And they can spread out as receivers, too.
“When we put that personnel in there, are you going to think we’re going to spread them out and put a nickel (cornerback) there?" Etling asked. "Or are you going to put a linebacker, in case we break the huddle and it’s a tight formation?”
They’re not out there just to run routes, either.
“It can be a pass-game mismatch or an edge-run mismatch,” Moore said.
It’s all about mismatches. That goes for defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, too. Both of LSU’s coordinators operate their scheme with matchups in mind.
For Aranda, can he get a speedy outside linebacker on a slow tackle during third-and-long? In Canada’s case, can he get a towering, speedy tight end against a short, slow middle linebacker?
“He wants to create mismatches,” coach Ed Orgeron said of Canada. “We put these guys in a position, we call the F position, and they can do a variety of things. They can be a tight end, wide receiver. We put those guys out there to create mismatches or create another hole in the line of scrimmage to get the safety out of the box.”
Moore’s days of lining up at the traditional fullback spot aren’t completely over. He lined up there at least twice Saturday, standing behind the quarterback and in front of the running back, his hand on the grass in a three-point stance.
That’s a “comfort zone” for him, he admitted. But he’s getting comfortable with this new position, too.
That Sunday morning felt awfully good.
It’s a feeling Devin White gets.