THE ANGEL – Thirty years ago, while coaching the defensive line in Miami, Ed Orgeron helped oversee a defense with the same goal in every game: keeping the opposing team to less than 13 points.
Back then the idea was sensible.
Defense dominated football, and that’s how the Hurricanes often hit their targets. In 1991 they allowed 8.3 points per game, an undefeated season that ended in a national championship. Most of the points scored against her were 20 from Penn State.
But Orgeron has seen football develop firsthand. Offenses move in a hurry and score dozens of points. The defense tries not to play on their heels. He understands that the idea of keeping another team at 13 points came at a different age.
“I don’t think that’s realistic these days,” Orgeron said. “Violations earn points.”
That’s part of what makes LSU’s season goal of improving defensively after a historically bad year so difficult. Orgeron wants the Tigers to eliminate explosive plays and keep opponents from scoring as many points – but what makes sense now given the attacking football?
Since Orgeron trained in Miami, college offenses have changed.
Quarterbacks below the center are a rare sight. There are hardly any huddles. Defenders have all but disappeared and have been replaced by extra-wide receivers.
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Criminal offenses have evolved over the years. They implemented more vertical passes, used running quarterbacks, increased their pace between games, devised run-pass options, and spread out to stretch defenses across the field as they got more explosive.
“Everyone in college football is attacking the eyes of the defense right now,” said Georgia’s coach Kirby Smart, who served as the defensive coordinator for nine years. “
By and large, the defenses haven’t figured out how to counteract all of the changes.
In 2011, Alabama, the best defense in the country, allowed 8.2 points per game. LSU came second this year with 11.3 points per game. They met in the BCS title game.
Since then, Alabama’s lowest average score per game has been 11.9 in 2017.
But the Crimson Tide has also changed, the team is now defined by a spread offensive. Alabama finished outside of the top 10 in defense for the next three years. When winning the national championship last season, the Crimson Tide allowed 19.4 points per game.
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Orgeron knows how hard it is to stop crime these days, but the Tigers stayed well below their standards last year. The LSU gave up 34.9 points per game, had problems with communication and missed tasks under the then coordinator Bo Pelini.
After the LSU had reached the last place in the Football Bowl subdivision in the allowed yards per game (323), Orgeron replaced Pelini with coordinator Daronte Jones. Since joining the team, the players have said that he will connect better with them and wait for communication to fix one of LSU’s main problems last season.
“I have a feeling that this year this defense will be a lot better,” said Todd Harris, who was safe for the fifth year. “It’s easy. It’s easy. The boys can identify with it more easily. We can act fast. We can do plays.”
For his part, Orgeron hopes the simpler plan will help LSU eliminate explosive plays and the mental defects they cause.
The Tigers allowed 166 games of 10 yards or more last season, including 14 of 50 yards or more.
Orgeron believes that can improve.
He knows the defense can’t keep the teams down to 13 points or less in each game now, but he expects the LSU defense to play better. Football may have changed. He still doesn’t accept what happened last season.
“I want to take care of what we can take care of,” Orgeron said. “Eliminate the big moves, explosive moves. Eliminate the mental defects. And play defense. Run to the soccer ball, grab a hand and make them deserve it. “