LSU’s jumbalaya recipe in recent years has been straightforward. Assemble an elite defense chockfull of future NFL talent to stymie opposing offenses, then do just enough with a conservative offense to get by. Usually that gameplan has involved copious amounts of a bruising running back hellbent on beating up the other side. World-class wide receivers have only amounted for a light dusting, underutilized by quarterbacks incapable of capitalizing on game-breaking speed and talent.
The Tigers are cooking up something different this year, thanks to Joe Burrow. All the senior has done is complete 54 of 66 passes for 749 yards and nine touchdowns through two games. Burrow threw for five scores in the opener against Georgia Southern then added four more against Texas, on the road, in Week 2’s marquee game.
He made a deliciously challenging throw to Justin Jefferson for a 61-yard game-sealer against the Longhorns. It had a high degree of difficultly and should signal that things are different down in the Bayou.
Burrow couldn’t crack top position at Ohio State and sought greener pastures. In 2018, he was serviceable in the way LSU asks its quarterbacks to be serviceable, completing 57.8 percent of his passes for 2,894 yards and putting up a 16-5 TD/Int ratio. The improvement has been insane, including adding 5.5 yards to his adjusted net yards/attempt number.
Sustainable? Maybe not. But already Burrow has shown he has the ability to do something a national title-winning quarterback must do: help his team win a shootout. LSU has hinged hopes on its defense, like so many elite programs. But there’s something to be said about the Alabamas and Clemsons of the world needing to score in the 40s to win it all.
This was a weapon the Tigers have long been missing. The vaunted defense was very human against Texas and yet it didn’t come back to bite them because the offense put up a big 4-5. Everything is bigger in the Lone Star state, even the score.
Burrow didn’t shrink from the moment in the slightest, instead embracing it. He’s always be cerebral and now it appears his physical tools are sharpened. He gives LSU a way to win they haven’t had in a while.
A favorable schedule looms with Florida, Auburn, and Texas A&M all coming to Death Valley. There is that pesky Alabama problem, but walking into Bryant Denny wit a bonafide gunslinger is, if nothing else, a positive thought.