LSU: Where Offensive Prospects Watch Their Careers Die

October 28, 2010 – 6:28 pm by McD

OK, OK, so making fun of LSU’s crappy offense is the new making fun of LSU’s clock management, which is the new making fun of Florida’s all-penitentiary team, but the amount of great prospects LSU gets every year, and the lack of offensive firepower the Tigers produce is truly staggering. And this is true for every position.

I mention this because some reporters, like they must do every week down there, grilled Les Miles about why the offense, specifically the passing game, sucks so badly. After all, Jordan Jefferson has been in the program for three years and Jarrett Lee has been there for four. Here was Miles’ response (via EDSBS):

“We’re throwing it. I don’t know. It’s…we’re working at it. And the players and the coaches are taking the time. And we’re throwing. We’re throwing balls. I guess for me, I just expect at some point in time that this thing is going to take off. I just think it’s OK. That’s what we would well have expected.”

And when asked if the quarterbacks have been coached well in their time:

“I don’t know. You know, that’s a tough question. The only thing I can tell you is that they’ve been coached and coached and coached, and drilled. The passing attack has not changed so significantly that it’s not comfortable for all. I, uh, yeah, I think they’ve been coached.”

So yeah, that’s an awesome assessment of his team’s progress. I’m sure the players and fans are glad Les Miles is such a positive guy or that might have looked bad.

Jarrett Lee was a four-star quarterback out of Texas in the class of 2007. After four years of being the program, he is a 50-something percent passer with 17 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

Go look at that 2007 class. There are so many good defensive players, it’s stupid, but Terrance Toliver is the only skill position player worth a damn four years later. Hell, DeAngelo Benton is playing for Auburn! Sure, there are plenty of quality linemen in there, but there’s a reason the passing game sucks, and it isn’t just because of the quarterbacks.

And no, you can’t tell me that Stevan Ridley is a good back. Show me a difference between Ridley and LSU’s last two starting running backs: Charles Scott and Jacob Hester. They all average around five yards a carry and, in the case of Hester and Scott, weren’t even the best backs on their team (see: Williams, Keiland). None of them do anything even remotely spectacular. Ridley starts because, like Hester and Scott before him, he runs straight ahead like Miles likes because apparently it’s still 1973 in Baton Rouge.

Ridley might not be the best on his team either because super prospect from the class of 2009 Michael Ford is averaging seven yards a carry, but he’s stuck at second on the depth chart.

Jordan Jefferson was a four-star quarterback out of Louisiana in the class of 2008. He is now the worst starting quarterback evereverever. He even made LSU reconsider playing Jarrett Lee. And yet, he was still a four-star recruit. So what gives?

Every LSU fan knows about Gary Crowton, the offense-killer. He’s the guy who followed LaVell Edwards at BYU and lasted only four years before being fired after making exactly one bowl. Then he went to Oregon in between the old Jeff Tedford/Joey Harrington offense and the new, awesome Chip Kelly offense (2005-06). Ducks fans will remember those years as the years Oregon’s offense secretly sucked, especially in 2006, his last year before his tenure at LSU began, when he couldn’t figure out how to use Dennis Dixon properly. Chip Kelly sure did.

Actually, the Dennis Dixon/Jordan Jefferson comparison is worth mentioning in more detail. Both are tall, athletic quarterbacks who needed some developing in the passing game but could run like crazy. The criticisms leveled at Dixon were virtually identical to the ones made about Jefferson. The difference is that Dixon got Chip Kelly to adapt the offense to him. Jefferson just continues to suck and not develop.

And then there’s Russell Shepard, a five-star quarterback in the class of ’09 from Texas. He’s now a receiver because of the glut of awesomeness LSU has at quarterback.

Shepard showed up at LSU as a wicked-fast quarterback who would be perfect for a Michigan/Nebraska/Auburn-style running quarterback offense. He needed to develop as a passer, but is still the best runner on the team. Think of him as a carbon copy of Denard Robinson. About the same size too.

Instead, the coaching staff moved him to receiver, probably because Miles knew there was no way Crowton could ever develop him into a competent passer. I thought I was a Keiland Williams obsessive, but his abilities are nothing compared to what Shepard was supposed to bring to LSU.

One might think this isn’t all about Crowton. That Les Miles and others have something to do with the offensive awfulness at LSU. After all, LSU did win the BCS national championship in Crowton’s first year as offensive coordinator.

True, but this is what Crowton does at every job he’s at. To wit: in Crowton’s first year as BYU head coach, the Cougars went 12-2. The next three years, they didn’t even crack .500, and Crowton was gone.

In Crowton’s first year at Oregon the following season, the Ducks went 10-1 and finished 10th in the country. The following year, they were 7-6.

And yes, in Crowton’s first year as Les Miles’ OC (2007), the Tigers won the BCS championship. Once again, he won with his predecessors’ players. This time it was Jimbo Fisher, who is now the head coach at Florida State. The next year, the Tigers went 8-5. In 2009, the Tigers went 9-4 and were absolutely awful on offense again.

Gary Crowton doesn’t take snaps or throw passes, but that’s a motherf–ker of a track record right there. In each case, he won with seniors (Brandon Doman, Kellen Clemens, Matt Flynn) and then didn’t develop anyone to follow up.

It’s always possible that Miles has been tinkering with Crowton’s system since it’s too spread-y and there’s only one tight end on the field way too often for Les Miles’ taste. I don’t want to blame the awfulness on just one person here.

It’s just that recruits are starting to figure this out. Four-star quarterback Zach Lee took the money from the Los Angeles Dodgers rather than play quarterback at LSU.

You’d have to be nuts to turn down money like that, but the point is the same: receivers will get looks from the NFL no matter what, but they sure as hell aren’t getting the ball at LSU (there are three guys tied for the team lead with 25 receptions after eight games, barely over three per game per player).

The quarterbacks aren’t going to get any better than they were in high school and have to endure the schizophrenic offense that runs out of a two-tight end ‘I’ formation one play and then is in a four-wide spread formation trying to throw the ball on the next down, only the defense isn’t exactly befuddled because LSU only runs about five plays out of each package anyway.

And, of course, the running backs. Any recruit going there should prepare himself to either sit behind one starter and never get carries, or, should they be the starter, to get run into the pile again and again and again. They’ll finally leave college so beat up that they can’t impress on their pro-day at all and have to play fullback like Hester or spend their rookie years on three different practice squads like Charles Scott. For the record, Keiland Williams is actually on the Washington Redskins’ roster, backing up Ryan Torain.

It’s not pretty at LSU, and if history shows us anything, it won’t be until major changes are made.

The craziest thing is that the Tigers are still 7-1 and No. 12 in the country. Maybe I’m nitpicking…

Nah. They’re awful.

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  1. 15 Responses to “LSU: Where Offensive Prospects Watch Their Careers Die”

  2. LSU needs a white boy at quarterback with average skills and above average intelligence.

    By Mike Kelley on Oct 29, 2010

  3. I have been a lsu fan all my life! to see les keep playing jefferson makes me sick. Lee is a much better QB tenn game prime ex lee got us in scoring pos jefferson comes in -well thank GOD tenn had 13 men on the fild!!! i say fire les send jefferson back to his roots!!!! IN 2 YEARS PEAT CAROL WILL BE AT LSU HE IS THE ONLY MAN THAT CAN HANG WITH NICK

    By Roy Goodspeed on Oct 30, 2010

  4. Wow. You are making ridiculous statements, not backed up by many valid facts. Do you even watch football. This is one of the worst articles on college football I have ever read. I really think that instead of just stating what you think based off of the highlights from Sportscenter, and a few facts that you have on the game, you should actually sit down and watch what happens. This is a poorly researched and thought out artcile, and you should save yourself further embarrassment and not write anything about college football ever again. I’m not saying that LSU’s offense isn’t terrible, they are. However, your article was terrible.

    By Zach on Oct 30, 2010

  5. Mike Kelley…you are such a racists and a Tea bag party member with your asinine comments. Without LSU’s team diversity, they would not be a good football team at all.

    What LSU needs is a good coaching staff that knows how to coach up football players, not a silly racist like yourself. You will never grow in life with your closed mentality, and it is unfortunate that people like you live in this world.

    By Buck on Oct 30, 2010

  6. @ BUCK: I don’t like Mr. Kelley’s post either but you are here advocating his death. That’s irresponsible.
    @ BUCK: “Team diversity” of the 22 starting positions on the team I think there are only 3 to 4 white kids playing, (including LEE).
    @ BUCK: The TEA PARTY has nothing to do with conversation.

    The bottom line is LSU has no creativity on offense & that is on Crowton’s shoulders. The QB’s are either incapable or lack understanding to be able run the oddense. This again is Crowton’s responsibility.
    In my opinion and my opinion only. I believe LEE gives us the best shot at winning right now. He throws a much more catchable ball. Jefferson had all the snaps in practice with the first string for the first 5 games & still get get on the same page as the wideouts.

    By Danny on Oct 30, 2010

  7. @Buck: Hey, the “Teaparty” crap is uncalled for. Keep your leftist surrenderist appeasing snivelcrat politics out of this…it has NOTHING to do with it.

    The language of this article is not PC, but the message is SPOT ON!! LSU’s offense is PATHETIC and a DISGRACE. Les Miles must deal with it NOW, or get the HELL out of my university, and out of my stadium. I am befuc*led as to how he is too stupid to see what a train wreck his offense is.

    By Fitzy on Oct 30, 2010

  8. Way to go Buck. Call someone close minded and then show how much of a close minded idiot you are in the very same post. It boggles the mind.

    And as for Mr. Kelley, I bet LSU’s offense would be doing quite alright with Darron Thomas right now (assuming Crowton wouldn’t absolutely misuse him, which he most certainly would).

    By Claudius on Oct 31, 2010

  9. Buck…show me a multicultural and diverse society and I’ll show you a society where disparate groups of people are all competing tooth and nail against each other. Multiculturalism and diversity like Marxism has miserably failed every time it has been tried, exactly because it is a recipe to destroy homogeneous and harmonious societies from within, which is the reason why it has become the religion of the Left. It creates victims, which the Left can then exploit to its own benefit.

    Anyway, the article was right on the money. Les is incompetent, but Crowton is even more incompetent, so we end up with the blind leading the blind. Indeed, Crowton couldn’t develop a quarterback to save his life. The only thing he is adept at doing is making LSU’s 4 and 5 star recruits look horrible while ruining their careers. There’s no way that if I was a 4 or 5 star offensive skill player out of high school I would go to LSU as long as Crowton is still there.

    By the way, this was the best line in the article: “He’s [Russell Shepard] now a receiver because of the glut of awesomeness LSU has at quarterback.”

    By Imam Abdul Rauf on Oct 31, 2010

  10. Crowton has not done much right since he got to LSU. He is not capable and all of the talent is being wasted. He cannot call the right play most of the time. I say get rid of him and Miles, Start over

    By Richard on Oct 31, 2010

  11. Zach (Lee?): To answer your question, no, I don’t really watch college football. Don’t really care for it. I prefer cooking shows.

    By McD on Oct 31, 2010

  12. For the record, Les Miles and Gary Crowton are both white – and we all seems to agree they are both incompetent coaches…..but that doesn’t mean all white coaches have below average intelligence….Just because Jefferson doesn’t ‘get it’ with the offense, doesn’t mean all black QBs have below average intelligence get the offense

    By Maurice on Oct 31, 2010

  13. Jefferson reminds me of Terrel Pryor(ok passer,great runner but cannot win the BIG games)Just about every week in the SEC is a BIG game.I watch him sit on the sidelines,without a care whats going on, on the field.I just don’t see the passion in his eyes or even cares to be a starter in the SEC or playing for LSU. Does anyone else see this?

    By Derrick on Nov 1, 2010

  14. 100% right on your report. Les Miles is not a coach for the SEC. His ideas are old and out dated. Gary Crowten has to be the worst coach we have hired. So much talent all over the field and we can not score. Fire Miles, give the head coaching job to either Chavis or Mike Leach.

    Mike Leach had a great offense at Texas Tech with 1 great wide receiver. Just imagine what he could do with the talent that LSU has, but he has to keep Chavis and leave him alone with the defense.

    Just my thoughts…..

    By Tim on Nov 1, 2010

  15. Your favorite line was a good one, but I think for sheer spot on observation mixed with some political incorrectness the real zinger goes to: Gary Crowton doesn’t take snaps or throw passes, but that’s a motherf–ker of a track record right there.

    By Lance on Nov 1, 2010

  16. Can I say KUDOS to McD. A sterling analysis to the LSU predicament. You did, however, leave out the play of the offensive line which parallels and illustrates the problems of the larger offense. Gary Crowten, Greg Studrawa and “Less” Miles have to go!!!! If we don’t intervene now, then our recruiting will be within LA Tech standards in a few years. Which reminds me……..KUDOS to the Bulldogs for hanging 400 yards of offense on the (at that time) number three team in the nation, Boise State.

    By Bruce in Washington on Nov 1, 2010

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