LSU Texas Football

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Texas, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN, Texas — Joe Burrow showed off LSU's one-minute offense on Saturday.

Actually, the 26 seconds of game clock it took for the Tigers quarterback to throw a touchdown just before halftime in LSU's 45-38 win over Texas on Saturday night took less time than a standard TV commercial.

LSU had the ball at its 42 with 1:13 left in the first half. Burrow threw three straight passes, hurrying the no-huddle offense between each, taking just 12.6 seconds between the second and the third play before firing a 21-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Justin Jefferson.

Suddenly, the Tigers were up 20-7 against the Longhorns instead of 13-7 at halftime — a two-score lead that ended up being the difference in a landmark victory that shot LSU up to No. 4 in the AP Top 25 poll.

LSU used to be among the programs that was concerned about even scoring with its two-minute offense, let alone a last-minute grab for some cushion points.

And in a system where Burrow can lead a 58-yard touchdown drive in half a minute, LSU's offense is something it hasn't been in quite some time.

"Dangerous," said Jefferson, who had nine catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns against Texas.

Yes, it's still early in the 2019 season, but LSU is ranked No. 13 nationally with 50 points per game. The 2007 Tigers set the school record with 38.6 points per game in a season that ended with a BCS national championship.


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LSU has figured out it's a tempo team, Burrow said, a team with speed and rhythm that can knock opposing defenses on their heels.

Burrow said going into the Texas game, the offense had made a habit of slowing down and looking to the sideline when it's struggling on the field.

That changed Saturday, when LSU was leading just 3-0 after the first quarter. Burrow said LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger told the offense: "Screw it, we're gonna go fast and make them get lined up to us."

LSU scored 17 points and produced 194 total yards of offense in the second quarter, a total that included Burrow's three-play scoring drive.

But it's not just about the pace between plays. It's about the speed within the plays, too, from snap to throw.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron has spoken often about the need for Burrow to throw the ball quicker. It's one of the fundamental concepts of the team's new spread offense, which multiple coaches have said is intended to get speed in space and neutralize opposing pass rushes by delivering the ball faster.

LSU outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson said in the preseason that the coaches produced a study that the average college quarterback takes 2.6 seconds to throw the ball.

Burrow averaged 2.4 seconds per throw (according to a staff reporter's stopwatch) while passing for 471 yards, four touchdowns and an interception against Texas.

Perhaps the most telling piece of data was that Burrow was never sacked within 2.6 seconds of the ball being snapped.

It's evidence that LSU's shaky offensive line has improved and it suggests that the theory passing game coordinator Joe Brady's said in the summer is correct: when an offense spreads out its receivers, it will lead to quicker throws and thus fewer sacks.

The quick game provided Burrow a protected window to attack Texas in the passing game. He was highly efficient when passing under 2.6 seconds, completing 22 of 28 passes for 253 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

The interception was tipped at the line of scrimmage when LSU was on its 4 in the first quarter.

It's an impressive output considering that the school of thought on defense is that if you give a quarterback more time, he will beat you more often than not.

The data also shows that's true: Burrow was 11 of 13 passing for 236 yards and two touchdowns when he had more than 2.6 seconds to throw.

When LSU tried to go even quicker, the data suggests there's room for improvement.

Out of Burrow's 40 pass attempts (which includes his two-point conversion at the end of the game), he was 10 of 13 for 77 yards when he passed the ball in less than two seconds. 

The pocket was clean on each of the 13 throws, indicating Burrow wasn't being hurried into a decision.

Eight of those sub two-second passes were on first down — mostly swing passes to running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the target of six such passes, who had three catches for 11 yards within that time frame.

The Tigers running backs have yet to truly establish themselves as the Alvin Kamara-type receiving threats Orgeron envisioned when he hired first-year passing game coordinator Joe Brady away from the New Orleans Saints.

Junior Clyde Edwards-Helaire was targeted seven times Saturday and led the running backs with four catches for 15 yards.

No, the most dymanic part of the offense remains its talented bevy of receivers.

Burrow targeted Jefferson, and sophomores Ja'Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall 26 times against Texas.

The trio each recorded over 100 yards receiving (the first occurrence in school history) and combined for 433 yards and four touchdowns.

And at an average of 2.45 seconds per target, it didn't take Burrow long to find them.

Burrow's 21-yard touchdown to Jefferson before halftime took 2.28 seconds to fire.

"Just having all of us spread out the ball and helping Joe step in the pocket, giving it to us?" Jefferson said."We're going to be dangerous this year."

Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.