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Before Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Terrace Marshall, Thad Moss, and a Joe Moore Award-winning offensive front took over college sports and the game's record books, college football had never seen a unit as dominant, decorated or as productive as Steve Ensminger and Joe Brady's Broyles Award-winning offensive supernova.
LSU's 2019 championship squad scored 40+ points on four #1 defenses, beat 7 top 10 teams, averaged 48.4 points per game, 568 yards per game, 7.9 each play, Burrow threw for 5,671 yards, 60 touchdown passes and ran for 5 more on his way to the Heisman, Ja'Marr Chase won the Biletnikoff while catching 20 of Joe's TDs, future NFL superstar Justin Jefferson caught 18 TDs as both Justin and Ja'Marr topped 1,000 yards.....even 3rd WR Terrace Marshall recorded 13 touchdowns;
This was Globetrotters Football, leaving the best defenses & coordinators humiliated or often soulless following their encounters with the swaggering, talk the talk / walk the walk savagery of Ed Orgeron's 🐐 team🐐 team.
Despite Burrow and Co's nonstop aerial theatrics, the overwhelming, unstoppable success of LSU's 2019 offense predicated on balance (37 passing attempts per game, 33 rushes on average), featuring special #1 running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire breaking loose for nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage, the Tigers even rushed for 32 touchdowns (including a combined 10 from their freshmen backs: Ty Davis-Price and current Tiger John Emery Jr).
This was a group that scored 40+ points in 12 of 15 games, scored 50+ in 7 other games, and even went above 60 on 3 occasions, averaged 401 yards passing and 167 on the ground each game through a gauntlet of 15 contests, most facing current NFL franchise QBs & 1st or 2nd round draft choices (like Jalen Hurts, Trevor Lawrence, Tua Tagovaiola, Tre Diggs & AJ Terrell etc), winning the title inside the Superdome during a wild double digit comeback over defending champions Clemson, before Burrow, Jefferson, Clyde, and Chase all became 1st round picks, plus 80% of their offensive linemen currently start at the next level.....the 2019 offense will forever be the greatest of the greatest to ever take the field...............right????
Well....through 8 games of 2023, where we've witnessed Jayden Daniels, Malik Nabers, Brian Thomas Jr, Logan Diggs, Mason Taylor, a conveyor belt of playmaking running backs, plus, a bruising, violent offensive line bullying, burning, dictating, controllling, suffocating, as well as historically wearing down almost every defense in which they've faced, it appears 2019 might have some company.
Don't mistake me...
2023 isn't 2019 yet and will likely never reach Burrow and Co's gratuitous offensive onslaught of 6,024 passing yards, 93 total touchdowns, specifically due to a pair of ugly early season defeats possibly placing a barrier between LSU & their postseason goals........all the same, mostly because of JD5's versatility, Nabers & Thomas' majesty, and the beautifully cohesive O-line, Mike Denbrock's infinite jest offense has quickly become one of the most entertaining & automatic offenses I've seen in a long, long time.
Also, 2023 LSU is definitely one of the most boundless offenses as far as their ultimate ceiling....& with major tests ahead @ Alabama, Florida, as well as a revenge match vs A&M where Daniels, Nabers, Diggs & the rest of the crew will be able to showcase their best before national television audiences.....the results aren't in just yet.
Ever since 2023 LSU's shockingly poor performance right out of the gates @ Florida State in week 1, Denbrock's JD5-geared offense is historically only topped by 2019 in program history, however....if Daniels and Co can continue this pace over the next 5+ games, LSU's 2023 attack actually has a shot at reaching some of 2019's untouchable achievments.....maybe even potentially passing a few.
Over 8 games thus far, LSU's 2023 offense is right in line with 2019 numbers, compiling 47.4 points per game (just 1 point shy of 2019), 552 yards per game (16 away), and 8.09 Yards Per Play (topping 2019 by a yard); meanwhile, just as Burrow, Chase, Jefferson, Clyde, and their offensive line took over college football that season, it's appearing to look like Daniels, Nabers, Thomas Jr, Diggs, alongside Brad Davis' brilliant O-line, are closing in on the same eternal conquest.
Daniels is the best player, quarterback, and leading passer in America, ranking 1st in total yards, total touchdowns, passing efficiency, 3rd down percentage, passing touchdowns, ranks 2nd in passing yards, and is beginning to make a serious Heisman case ahead of a high profile defacto playoff game @ Alabama.
Nabers is America's #1 leading receiver at 981 yards, 122 per game (1st), 9 TDs (3rd nationally), 52 receptions (6th), clinching 100+ yards vs 5 different opponents, the 4th all time single game receiving performance vs Miss St (239 yards), and now, likely with his first catch against Alabama, Nabers will become just the 4th Tiger WR to notch multiple 1,000 yard seasons, joining Wendell Davis, Tony Moss and Josh Reed....something neither Ja'Marr Chase nor Justin Jefferson were able to accomplish.
Right now, Malik Nabers isn't just the Biletnikoff frontrunner, it would be a crime if he didn't win today due to his unbelievable value as a complete receiver; plus, prime candidates Luther Burden & Marvin Harrison Jr either play on a poor team (that will catch 4 or 5 losses) or is getting left behind on the stat sheet.
I have no doubt if Nabers continues in this vein, he'll become the third LSU Tiger wideout to clutch the Biletnikoff award (following Josh Reed & Ja'Marr Chase).
Also worthy of Biletnikoff candidacy is LSU's #2 WR, Brian Thomas Jr, leading the nation at 11 touchdowns, putting up over 700 receiving yards already (10th nationally); Eclipsing 100 yards & catching multiple touchdowns against 5 defenses, Thomas Jr is proving to be a dynamic aerial weapon against anyone, delivering on his high octane promise in year 3...the Money Year.
Then, we've seen Brad Davis' offensive line honored at different points, center Charles Turner making the Outland Trophy OL of the Week vs Auburn, Emery Jones Jr named SEC OL of the Week vs Missouri, as freshman All-American Will Campbell, Garrett Dellinger, Miles Frazier, and key bullpen debutant Lance Heard all perform better by the week, now the entire group are being recognized by the Joe Moore Award Association as a high potential candidate when December rolls around.
Regardless of 2 defeats, there isn't just star power all over LSU's 2023 offense, there are legitimate future NFL studs....
This current season's story isn't told just yet, and though it won't be unblemished like 2019, Brian Kelly's Tigers have a chance to reach the same end goals Orgeron's crew were able to 4 years ago....albeit through much different means, a more topsy turvy pathway (including the hospitalization of team leader Greg Brooks Jr to a rare form of brain cancer, the offense's "pants-pulled-down" moment during a high profile, highly anticipated opening week beating at the hands of Florida State, scoring 49 points and racking up over 600 yards but still losing to Ole Miss, fighting through more injuries & adversity over 8 games than LSU's 2019 offense faced during 15)....
Burrow and the 2019 crew weren't backed by a top 10 defense...not even a top 25 or top 40 unit....in fact, due to the fast pace of the Ensminger-Brady offense, there were times Dave Aranda's group were historically poor (allowing a then-program record amount of yards to Ole Miss, also giving up 37 points to Plumlee's Rebels, 38 to Texas and Vanderbilt, or engaging in a shootout @ Alabama (giving up 41 points).
But during that time frame, Aranda's defense contained playmakers that forced turnovers, created sacks, tackles for loss, or denied explosive passing plays:
The greatest freshman campaign by a defender arriving from Derek Stingley Jr, Thorpe Award-winner Grant Delpit, National Championship Game Defensive MVP Patrick Queen, Rashard Lawrence, Kristian Fulton made errors & allowed some big plays but stood up in the biggest games against the best opponents, unsung DT Tyler Shelvin plugged everyone's interior gaps, 2020 1st round edge rusher (& Tiger #18) K'lavon Chaisson became another big game playmaker against Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia as well as the title game vs Clemson....
Aranda's defense had guys stand up and rise when Burrow and Co needed it most.
17 interceptions, 5 fumble recoveries off 6 forced, 37 total sacks, 0 defensive touchdowns....it doesn't make great reading, but every single one of those plays was crucial and precious.
You and I both know what happens when you give 2019 Joe Burrow 22 extra possessions via turnovers alone....
In 2023, LSU's defense may be historically poor, but they've shown signs of life over the past 2 1/2 games, starting to compliment & support their offense in the exact manner Aranda's defense helped Burrow....
Matt House's unit also contains enough star power up front to win games, Harold Perkins (Butkus candidate), Mekhi Wingo, Maason Smith, Whit Weeks, but for the first time in years, there is a lack of proven playmakers among the 2023 secondary.
Regardless of the defensive factor, LSU's 2023 attack have been able to reach outrageous heights.....the fact we're actually able to compare this unit with 2019's empirical, greatest ever squad proves just how efficiently elite, relentlessly brilliant, and eerily productive Denbrock's offense continues to be.
Leading the nation in total yards, yards per game, first downs, 3rd down percentage, overall scoring as well as points per game, cashing home 48 touchdowns through 8 games, already over half of 2019's haul (93), 6 weeks over 40 points, thrashing two opponents by 60+ points, Nabers & Thomas Jr tying Chase & Jefferson's record of 3 games where both eclipsed 100 yards & 1 TD, running back Logan Diggs already at 611 yards and 6 TDs..........much like 2019, we're needing to update their rapidly rising numbers every week, keeping track of any and all records they're challenging or snapping, trying to capture their empirical play with the right words or images....
.....I didn't think I'd get the pleasure of writing about an LSU offense as irresistible as 2019 so soon after the confetti fell....but here we are, only 4 years later, documenting a group that is unequivocally the closest thing to perfect we've seen since Burrow and Co left Louisiana....
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
©️ 2023 Uninterrupted Writings Inc, a subsidiary of Uninterrupted Media LLC
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