Maybe this revamped LSU offense is exactly what the Tigers need to challenge Alabama atop the SEC West.
LSU QB Joe Burrow threw for 471 yards as No. 6 LSU beat No. 9 Texas 45-38 in Austin on Saturday night.
Burrow provided the dagger to Texas’ hopes on a fourth quarter third-and-17 play when he flung a wobbly pass on the money to Justin Jefferson after stepping up to avoid the rush.
After the catch, Jefferson did the rest.
Jefferson was one of three LSU receivers who had over 100 yards receiving. It’s the first time in school history that’s happened.
Texas got back a touchdown with 22 seconds left after Burrow found Jefferson, but it was too little, too late. Burrow’s TD pass — his fourth of the day — came a play after he was sacked for a seven-yard loss and Texas looked like it had a real chance to take the lead with a touchdown and an extra point.
Instead, Burrow struck. Like he had over and over and over.
“We trusted him,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said.
LSU hired former New Orleans Saints assistant Joe Brady to serve as the team’s passing game coordinator in 2019. And that change is paying off mightily so far. Burrow sure looks comfortable. He’s thrown for nine touchdowns over the first two games of the season.
Both LSU and Texas entered Saturday’s game arguing over which school was “DB U” and produced better NFL defensive backs. Well, the game itself was not a good way to settle the argument. While Burrow threw for 471, Texas QB Sam Ehlinger threw for over 401 yards and four scores.
Like Burrow’s, Ehlinger’s receivers were fantastic too. Devin Duvernay was a monster from the slot and had 12 catches for 154 yards and two scores. And Brennan Eagles had five catches for 116 yards including a 55-yard TD.
Texas’ red-zone struggles
While Texas struggled to slow down Burrow and LSU’s passing attack — it still feels weird to say that LSU has a very good passing game — the Longhorns can look back on Saturday’s loss and wonder what happens if they didn’t fail inside the LSU 5 on two occasions.
Texas made the decision to go for it on fourth down at the LSU 2 with just over five minutes left in the first quarter. And Ehlinger found a wide-open Keontay Ingram in the end zone. But Ingram dropped the ball.
The TD looked so sure that Ehlinger’s mom had to be told that the pass was dropped.
That TD looked like such a guarantee that Sam Ehlinger’s mom had to be informed that Keontay Ingram had dropped it. pic.twitter.com/1eNOeMQn0x— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) September 8, 2019
An interception got the ball back for Texas inside the LSU 5 but the Longhorns still somehow came away with no points as LSU stuffed Texas’ rushing attempts from the 1 on third and fourth down.
Is LSU for real?
There’s no guarantee that LSU will move up from No. 6 in the AP poll on Sunday afternoon. Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State have all looked convincing enough to retain their rankings.
But if you had any doubt that LSU was overranked to start the season, that doubt should be gone by now. The Tigers look really, really good.
A competent passing game was the missing ingredient for LSU’s offense entering the 2019 season. Burrow was fine in his first season with the Tigers after transferring from Ohio State, but he wasn’t exceptional. He completed 58 percent of his passes and averaged 7.6 yards an attempt while throwing for 16 touchdowns and five interceptions.
He’s already seven TDs away from his 2018 total through two games.
With defenses forced to respect a downfield passing attack, rushing lanes should continue to open up for LSU’s running backs. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the team’s leading rusher Saturday night and he had 15 carries for 87 yards. Yes, LSU’s top running back had just 15 carries in a huge non-conference game on the road. And no other running back had more than three carries.
Burrow, meanwhile, threw 39 passes. Things are different in Baton Rouge.
Will that different pay off? We’ll have to probably wait a while to find out. LSU has games against Northwestern State, Vanderbilt and Utah State before hosting Florida on Oct. 12.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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