Updated: Feb 27
ORIGINALLY PRINTED ON OCTOBER 12TH, 2020:
AND STILL RELEVANT FOR RIGHT NOW!
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
We can surely blame Bo Pelini and Coach Ed Orgeron for the horrifying 2020 defensive regression under our watch thus far, but we can thank Coach O for fully establishing a new offensive identity at LSU, our passing game under Steve Ensminger resuming their high flying, high scoring, pedal to the metal antics from 2019 under new QB Myles Brennan.
You can call LSU's defeats to Mississippi State and Missouri horrific, ugly, hideous....any negative adjective will suffice...although even LSU's biggest haters must acknowledge the effortless splendor of Myles Brennan's shocking ascendancy, defying his critics and doubters in the face of defeat.
Pulling off Joe Burrow throws and tossing touchdowns while taking big hits, Myles Brennan reversed his own nationwide profile following his third consecutive 300 yard game to launch his LSU starting career, nabbing his first 400 yard outing vs Missouri.
Surprisingly, Myles is keeping pace with 2019 Joe Burrow...against much greater competition: 1,117 yards and 11 touchdown passes already (Joe Burrow's first 3 games of 2019 vs UGA Southern, Texas & Northwestern State: 1,122 yards and 11 TDs).
Brennan earned the respect of every Tigers player, coach and fan after a gutty passing display...but at every turn during Myles' time at LSU, something unplanned would ruin his big day...twice this season, a defense who refused to tackle or cover anyone has been the culprit.
Forget the defense, they drew our ire last piece; I want to explore the hype that did live up to its preseason billing:
We were told Ensminger's offense wouldn't skip a beat, the passing attack would be full throttle and aggressive as ever before with players aiming to break 2019's records.
Those boasts have turned out to be true, our passing attack seemingly unstoppable in the aftermath of another 41 point night, Terrace Marshall duplicating Ja'Marr Chase's 2019 exploits vs Vanderbilt when he destroyed Missouri for 11 catches 235 yards and 3 TDs (4th all time single game receiving day in LSU history...Terrace already off to a stratospheric start catching 7 TDs); Arik Gilbert broke out in stunning fashion producing 5 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown while looking untouchable in a myriad of routes or scenarios; WR Kayshon Boutte confronted DBs and linebackers from one move to the next in limited reps (5 catches 49 yards)...but this was very much the Myles-Marshall show.
Myles continuously looked for Terrace, 15 targets total, but these weren't numbers for pure volume....these were momentum swinging plays when LSU needed them most. As Pelini's besieged defense folded one drive after another, Brennan and Marshall were forced to continuously provide the goods, one huge play after another...and they did just that, 5x LSU's offense produced touchdowns to go ahead on the scoreboard....only to watch Missouri answer right back.
Fighting fire with fire, Brennan was imperious, pulling out all the stops:
Rolling out to his right away from pressure and rifling perfect passes down the sidelines straight into Marshall and Gilbert's hands (Myles will improve on leading his receivers with the ball); stepping up in the pocket and delivering bulleted passes through tight coverage;
Our quarterback took nasty shots and still kept slinging one flame-throwing dart after another against the blitz, another category where he's proven to be dominant (7 TD passes and a bulk of our big play yardage against max pressure this season).
Many were demanding Brennan's benching after Week 1, screaming bloody murder for Blondie's head on a purple and gold platter...blaming the junior quarterback for defeat, calling #15 timid, a "deer in the headlights" or worst of all, scared.
Following his riveting showcase on Saturday morning, Myles has proven he's far from afraid of the big stage...and despite fears of growing pains (he was poor on 3rd down), Brennan has hardly experienced much outside of rugged aerial dominance in the face of O-line injuries, miscommunication, a non-existent willingness to run the football, and Myles' own evolving level of ability....as well as the big hits he took early in the game, obviously hampering the quarterback later on in the 4th quarter (we're getting word he's sustained a pretty nasty injury, requiring attention from Jack Marucci and team Dr. Bankston).
When you watch the massive steps our quarterback has taken from his debut to now, it's nearly night and day...and yet vs Miss State, Brennan still chucked 335 yards, 3 scores & our offense put up 27....
I am wearing my Burrow jersey right now....there is no bigger Joe Burrow fan than me...but being such a student of every snap during Joe's two seasons, I have to point out the truth of what Myles has accomplished:
Joe Burrow never looked this good in year one...Joe Burrow wasn't throwing with tight accuracy 40 yards down field for 400+ yards in 2018....and thus far, Myles is matching Joe's 2019 output with far less artillery at his disposal.
"We don't want him to be Joe Burrow, we just want him to be the best Myles Brennan he can be," Coach Orgeron repeated the mantra all off-season....well, he's done that and more, redefining the expectations attached to his name and distancing himself from the preceding hallowed Heisman legend with each commanding 300+ yard showcase.
After the game, insiders spoke of a riled up Brennan laying into his teammates for a lack of effort and, as if King Badass had risen from his throne to smite their transgressions, these players, veterans and freshmen listened to his every word.
"There is no doubting this is Myles' Brennan's team," we were told.
If our defense performs poorly in all three contests thus far, LSU is easily 3-0...
Instead our defense played like kindergarten kids chasing a tetherball...letting our second consecutive record setting quarterback down as he orchestrated an above and beyond passing performance.
Everyone talking about 2020 LSU before the season asked:
"Will Myles Brennan and this offense stay within the perimeters of 2019's aggression and infinite aerial prowess? Or will they regress?"
I think we found the answer to that question: When it comes to Myles Brennan running this passing attack, the sky's the limit...
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN