By Micah Neese—
I’d never seen a defense on a college football field look as bewildered and hopeless as LSU’s was last week, but take a look around the SEC last week, a conference renowned for good defense, and you see Florida and Texas A&M each scoring touchdowns on all of their first-half drives, Ole Miss running the ball for eleven consecutive plays on a dominant scoring drive against a supposedly stiff Alabama defense, and 6 SEC teams scoring over 40 points in a week. LSU is suffering the most from an accumulated climax of offensive firepower and young defenses sorely missing the offseason of practice they were cheated out of by a pandemic. Many teams are suffering from this clash between growing offensive firepower and young defenses sorely missing the offseason of practice they were cheated out of by a pandemic, but none worse than LSU, who has a new defensive coordinator, a new scheme, and freshmen and inexperience all over the field.
Offenses have become more and more powerful each year. Since football’s early days, rule changes that protect the quarterback and the receivers and limit the ways the ball carrier can be brought down have given the upper hand to the offense. Offensive scheme has become better and more creative while defensive scheme creativity is more limited by design and can only watch from behind. Passing offenses have become efficient to the point where they have almost been mastered. Each season offenses come back stronger and score more points and rack up more yards while defenses come out more or less the same, their improvement being limited to an increase in talent alone. With no offseason, young defenses had an even greater disadvantage against offenses. Currently, 15 teams in the FBS are averaging 38 points per game or higher. The Big 10 and the Pac 12 are two of the highest scoring conferences in the country and they are among the 54 teams not even playing yet. With rigid, conference-only schedules teams can’t run up the score in tune-up games against lower-tier opponents. All that and last year only 9 teams finished at or above the 38 points per game mark. COVID sent a long upward trend in scoring skyrocketing.
A lot of this spike comes from passing offense. Right now 9 teams are averaging above 350 passing yards last year only LSU and Washington State broke that mark. All over college football defenses are blowing assignments, consistently losing matchups, and being picked apart by passing schemes. All over college football we see genius offensive minds like Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin manipulating defenses and quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones scoring 60 and 70 points on teams. COVIDput offensive success on a collision course with defensive failure and we’re seeing the results.