9/22/16 5:45 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
As promised, today I’m happy to share with you a new Q&A with NFL and College Football analyst Mike Detillier on the topic of LSU football. In today’s initial installment of the two-part series, I get Mike’s thoughts on whether this team is a playoff contender, on quarterback Danny Etling, on the offensive line, and on the skill positions. I also ask Mike to comment on the second half of last week’s game, during which LSU almost let Mississippi State overcome a 20-point deficit. In tomorrow’s segment, I’ll get Mikes’s thoughts on the defense and special teams, so be sure to tune in for that too.
DandyDon.com’s Q&A with Mike Detillier on LSU Football – Offense
Moving on with our normal order of business on Thursdays, today we’ll recap what Coach Miles had to say in his weekly call-in show. After that, we’ll continue our preview of LSU and Auburn with our thoughts on LSU’s offense vs. Auburn’s defense and vice versa. Here we go…
LES MILES SHOW RECAP
Before going to the phone lines, Miles spoke a little about last week’s game, saying that on offense there was balance between the run and pass, but that they have to finish games. He also spoke highly of Danny Etling, calling him a cool customer who doesn’t get rattled, makes good decisions and gets the ball to the right guys.
As usual, the first caller of the night was Sadie from Denton. She asked Miles how he’s preparing the team for its first away SEC game at a loud Jordan-Hare Stadium. Miles said they’ve played in a lot of loud stadiums before, and what they have to do is go in with a serious mindset and take care of business. Simple as that.
Rickey from Birmingham asked two questions: What is the advantage of having a punter as the holder on field goals and PATs, and who was responsible for the onside kick mismatch. Miles answered the second question first, saying, “We haven’t had the opportunity to have many onside kicks. We needed to coach it better and certainly I’m responsible. We spent a lot of time on it this week.” He added that the way the ball bounced gave them no chance to field it until the third bounce, but their front line guys needed to block better. As for the question about having a punter as the holder, Miles said it would be ideal to have a quarterback as the holder, but that Growden has great hands and is a special teams guy. He did say, however, that they’d like to take that responsibility off of Growden’s plate so that he can focus on punting.
The next question came from a Twitter user who pointed out that LSU doesn’t have an upperclassman middle linebacker returning next year and asked why Devin White isn’t playing more there. Miles said White played more last game and they see him as being a guy that will man that linebacker spot next year very quickly.
Between callers, host Chris Blair talked about the outstanding season TréDavious White is having. Miles agreed and said White is a tremendously talented football player and an even better person.
After speaking about the improvement of punter Growden and the outstanding play of Lewis Neal, Jamal Adams and Arden Key, Blair asked coached Miles what he thought when he heard Key say his goal is to have 20 sacks this year. Miles answered, “Dream big! Go big or go home! He thinks like a Tiger.”
Tremaine from Las Vegas said a lot of people gripe about Miles’ offense but he recognizes that the problem is execution. He then asked if Miles is happy about the push his defensive line is getting in the middle. Miles said he was satisfied with the push his guys are getting considering they are getting double-teamed. In response to Tremaine’s first comment, Miles thanked him for his understanding and said if they execute and continue to improve they will be able to throw for 250-300 yards per game and have the opportunity to do the things they’ve always wanted to do. He added that the playbook is open and hopefully the opportunity to use more of the plays will come with more first downs.
My friend Charlie from Lafayette, a longtime DandyDon reader, called to say he keeps hearing from others that LSU went conservative in the second half against Mississippi State so he went back and charted every play. His conclusion was that Miles was throwing a lot in the second half and continued to attack. Charlie also pointed out that the team’s kick coverage has been off the charts this year. Miles thanked Charlie for his observations and said sometimes people get short-sighted with stats. He agreed that kick coverage has been “lights out” and said he might have one of the best kickoff teams in the country.
Travis from the live audience asked about the overall health of the offensive line. Miles said there’s not a serious injury in the group and that they should have most everybody back in good shape this week.
Later from the live audience, the Evil Twin followed up on that question by asking how many O-linemen are ready to play at any time. Miles said they have “a very comfortable 8” and that all have practiced this week. He repeated that he thinks they will be fine there for this Saturday’s game.
The last caller of the night, Joe from Alabama, asked Miles if he has changed the offense any now that Etling is the quarterback. Miles’ response was, “We've really stayed with a lot of our base premises. Maybe a little different execution, but the same offense.”
Now let’s switch gears and move on with our preview of LSU’s very important road contest against Auburn by looking at who has the advantage on offense and defense. Tomorrow we’ll do the same with special teams and intangibles.
LSU’s offense vs. Auburn’s defense
This is a hard one to call. On one hand, LSU’s offense has been very impressive at times with Danny Etling at quarterback, but has yet to play a “complete game.” On the other hand, Auburn’s defense looks great on paper, even after playing Clemson and Texas A&M, but its numbers are greatly inflated by a blowout win over Arkansas State. One thing to note is that Auburn held the Aggies to a 13% third-down conversion rate (2-for-15), and showcased a strong red zone defense, forcing four field goals in five red zone trips. That’s impressive, and what’s particularly interesting about it is that LSU has excelled in 3rd down conversions with Etling at the helm (56%) and has been very good in the red zone. If Etling remains poised in his first road game, and if Leonard Fournette and LSU’s offensive line are in good health, LSU could have the advantage here, but without knowing for sure whether that will be the case, we’ll have to give Auburn the slight advantage here.
Slight advantage Auburn
LSU’s defense vs. Auburn’s offense
At this juncture, Auburn has more questions on offense than LSU. Sean White is the starting quarterback, but Gus Malzahn hasn’t gone a game without trying two other quarterbacks (John Franklin III and Jeremy Johnson) at the position. To go along with that, Auburn’s offensive line has been suspect, to say the least. Against Texas A&M, Auburn allowed four sacks and forced Malzahn to think twice about taking any shots down the field. Texas A&M has one of the best defensive lines in football thanks to Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett, but LSU’s defensive line has proven quite capable of getting to the passer too. And we saw at the end of the Mississippi State game just how good Dave Aranda is at confusing opposing offensive lines, as evidenced by Arden Key’s game-sealing sack. As long as LSU can limit Auburn’s two-headed monster at running back – Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson – LSU should have no problem taking advantage of Auburn’s offensive line woes and quarterback flaws. Auburn has not shown the ability to pass vertically against Clemson or Texas A&M, and I don’t think they’ll be able to against LSU’s secondary.
Strong Advantage LSU
Today’s closing tidbits:
• Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of the Q&A with Mike Detillier and return tomorrow for Part 2 and the continuation of our LSU-Auburn breakdown.
• Former LSU quarterback Jamie Howard told the Culotta and the Prince radio show Wednesday morning that current LSU QB Brandon Harris received death threats after the Tigers' 16-14 season opening loss to Wisconsin. I find that despicable beyond words. For more on that topic, read this article by NOLA.com.
• And if you’re got a few more minutes to spare, here’s a good article on Danny Etling by the Advocate: Danny Etling's Matt Flynn-type characteristics are sending Cam Cameron deep into LSU's playbook