LSU coach Ed Orgeron said a change was coming.
During the coach’s weekly media luncheon on Monday, Orgeron said the Tigers offense needed some retooling, suggesting LSU may reduce its presnap motions and shifting, making things easier for the offense under first-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
In Saturday’s 24-21 loss against Troy (4-1) at Tiger Stadium, LSU’s offense appeared simpler and different, but the stumbles, including four turnovers, continued.
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“I took the blame the first time, and I’ll take it again,” Orgeron said. “But you know what? We’ve got to call better plays.”
Five days before LSU’s second loss this season, Orgeron said he and offensive coordinator Matt Canada “discussed” simplifying things, somewhat restructuring Canada’s offense known for confusion and deception via motions and shifts.
Canada, who joined LSU in December, called roughly 90 presnap motions in LSU’s season opener, a 27-0 win against BYU in New Orleans.
In the first half Saturday behind starting quarterback Danny Etling, the Tigers didn't send many in motion. LSU, without an official stat to track preplay movement, used few of Canada's shifts in the half and scored zero points en route Troy’s 10-0 halftime lead.
“Back to the drawing board,” Orgeron said. “We tried less motions and shifts, so we can have less penalties and we can have more execution. Didn’t work.”
LSU totaled 93 yards in the first quarter, only 10 yards passing, and 158 yards in the half — 97 of which were yards rushing. Star running back Derrius Guice did not play with an injury.
After absorbing a blow to his midsection in the second quarter, Etling did not return for the beginning of the second half, so Myles Brennan, a rifle-armed freshman quarterback, entered.
According to the LSU Sports Radio Network, Etling was feeling OK after halftime, but began the second half on the sideline after having the wind knocked out of him a quarter before.
With Brennan, the Tigers offense ramped up the presnap movement, calling few plays without others in motion. Brennan’s more comfortable with Canada’s movement, the broadcast said.
Shifts aplenty, Brennan connected on a 7-yard pass to tight end Foster Moreau in the third, scoring LSU’s first points against Troy.
“Danny got roughed up a bit,” Orgeron said. “He could’ve gone back in in the third quarter, but we wanted to give Myles a shot. We needed a boost. He made some big plays.”
Added Orgeron: “Tried a new quarterback. Didn’t work.”
Brennan steered LSU’s only scoring drive in the third and whizzed an interception early in the fourth quarter before Etling returned with eight minutes remaining in the fourth as LSU trailed 24-7.
“Obviously, the interception was critical,” Orgeron said, “so we put Danny back in.”
Three plays and two completions later, Etling lofted a 34-yard touchdown to receiver Russell Gage and another 20-yard strike to Moreau late in the fourth quarter. Moreau's two-touchdown game was his first career multi-score outing at LSU.
There was no wooden horse needed.
Etling, who completed 17 of his 25 passes for 198 yards. Combined with Brennan, the duo produced 266 total yards through the air and connected with 10 different receivers and willed LSU to a three-point deficit with 1:59 remaining in the fourth.
With a chance to win, Etling chunked LSU's fourth turnover, an interception with fewer than 10 seconds remaining in the final quarter, sealing a disastrous loss.
“That’s a difficult deal right now,” Orgeron said. “We can’t move the ball. We’re missing some key plays with Danny in there. We’re giving Myles a chance. It’s not his fault, he just doesn’t have the experience.”
LSU’s offensive personnel was different, too.
Other than the Etling-for-Brennan-for-Etling swap, the Tigers started a pair of freshman on the offensive line — right guard Ed Ingram and right tackle Saahdiq Charles — marking the first time the school has started two true freshman on the line since at least 1986.
The right side of LSU’s offensive line made four career starts before Saturday.
Ingram started in LSU’s last four games after Charles started in LSU’s season opener at right guard, becoming the first true freshman to start in a season opener since World War II.
Guice — who seemed to suffer a left leg/knee injury late in LSU’s 37-7 loss to Mississippi State on Sept. 16 — was absent from Saturday’s game.
LSU subbed in senior Darrel Williams for a heavy, 69-yard workload on 17 carries against Troy after starting tailback, junior Nick Brossette, fumbled on LSU’s first offensive possession.
Tight end/F-back J.D. Moore, one of LSU’s two senior captains, also did not play.
This time, there was no comeback.