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LSU safety Grant Delpit (9) and linebacker Jacob Phillips (6) tackle Arkansas wide receiver De'Vion Warren (9) on the kickoff return in the second half of LSU's 33-10 win over Arkansas on Saturday, November 11, 2017, at LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

It has been all-consuming this offseason, all the talk, talk, talk of LSU’s offense.

Who will be the starting quarterback? Will the Tigers really go three, four and five wides? Can they find a running back? Is there enough depth on the offensive line to do the job?

And, hey, it was one paragraph ago ... has LSU named a starting quarterback yet?

If there is any talk about LSU’s defense, it is about who will start at cornerback opposite everybody’s preseason All-American, Greedy Williams. And, for those who like a bit of legalese sprinkled like filé on top of their football gumbo, the related saga of cornerback Kristian Fulton and his looming appeal Thursday to be reinstated by the NCAA after tampering with a drug test in 2016.

But the defense will become a much hotter topic if it cannot live up to the traditions of past defenses at LSU.

Everyone who follows LSU football and grumbled through the Les Miles 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust era of retro-offense wants more production out of the Tigers.

Ed Orgeron and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger promise more passing, an according-to-Hoyle spread look, and at least a 50-50 run/pass balance. LSU hasn’t thrown the ball at least 50 percent of the time since the last time the federal government balanced the budget, but that’s the story they are pitching.

It sounds great for the average fan who has watched other teams whiz-bang the ball all over the field — often with a corresponding uptick in wins. Funny how that works. But there is an actual downside to improved MPG from LSU’s offense. Spread offenses tend to score (or not) quickly, which means the defense is on the field more quickly, which means the defense can get worn out more quickly.

Say what you want about more points and yards. But if they come at the expense of a quality, much less a dominant defense, LSU fans will be just as miffed as they were when they watched Miles make his running backs slam between the tackles against eight-man fronts over and over again.

If LSU football historically has an identity, it is defense, going back to the days of the Chinese Bandits and Charlie McClendon and Tommy Casanova. Anything that undermines that tradition will not be a welcomed sight.

Defensive players say they have the depth to handle the challenge.

“It’s a tough deal when the offense scores on one play or they go three-and-out and you’re back on the field,” sophomore safety Grant Delpit said. “It’s just part of football. More plays on the field mean more opportunities to be great.”

Every day leading up to the start of preseason camp last weekend was about the workouts. Perhaps just as importantly, the Tigers have been grinding extra-hard this offseason on their conditioning, which translates to a quicker pace of practice.

“We’re having up-tempo practices,” Williams said. “Coach O expresses to us every day that practices are like game-day reps. We’re taking every day like a game.”

Sophomore defensive end Glen Logan said he dropped about 40 pounds from his freshman season, down from about 325 to somewhere in the 280s as he shunned pizza (most of the time) and shed pounds.

“My conditioning is way better than it’s ever been,” Logan said. “I can run pretty much all day.”

LSU ranked third in the Southeastern Conference last season in time of possession, holding the ball for just over 32½ minutes a game. If the Tigers’ new offense runs as planned, it could be that the defense will find itself spending more than half the game on the field.

Sophomore linebacker Jacob Phillips says he understands where LSU needs to go with the offense. He said the defense is ready.

“I’m a team player, and I want us to win,” Phillips said. “I understand we have to score points. I’m not shying away from being on the field more. That’s just more opportunities to showcase my skills and for our defense to showcase its skills.”

Perhaps it is for no small reason that Orgeron said all of LSU’s healthy players passed their conditioning tests before preseason practice began. If it’s a faster game the Tigers will play, being fit for the fight is critical.

“All the work we’ve put in this summer to get in shape,” Phillips said, “we’re in the best shape we can be in.

“We’re still running and conditioning. I don’t think we’ll be tired.”

It is said a football season is a marathon and not a sprint. For the Tigers, especially the ones on defense, it promises to be both.

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.​