Week 3 of the college football season is in the books for the LSU Tigers, and it has them perfect with a 3-0 record. Despite the perfect record so far, the Tigers offense has yet to impress.
Much of the reason the Tigers have been winning week in and week out is directly attributed to the tremendous play of their defense. Without a doubt, there will be games (mainly against teams like Alabama and Arkansas) where their offense will need to put up big numbers to help them win.
After their victory over Mississippi State Thursday night, the LSU offense is still ranked a dismal 88th in the nation and will require significant improvement if the Tigers want to keep on track for a BCS National Title bid.
After their third game, LSU ranks 53rd in sacks allowed with three. This is not bad, but teams can always improve on their pass protection.
Unlike preseason starter Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee requires a bit more time in the pocket in order to be successful and the offensive line needs to keep pressure on him to a minimum to help him make better decisions.
With the exception of sophomore offensive tackle Chris Faulk, the rest of the starting O-line for the Tigers is a veteran bunch highly capable of providing Lee with the protection he needs and have the ability to keep sacks and pressure to a minimum, even against the best pass-rushing teams in the nation.
The LSU Tigers offense doesn't come across third-down opportunities very often, but when they do, they are under 50 percent in converting them. This is not good enough when a game changing play is needed at there is only a trust of less than 50 percent the team will convert.
This will especially become a factor against SEC opponents whose stingy defenses are very good at shutting down teams on third down opportunities. Three of LSU's final nine opponents ranked in the top 12 in disallowing third-down conversions.
Whether it be an attempt through the air or on the ground, the entire Tigers offense will need to find the will to break tackles and get that first down whether it be on the first drive of the game or the last drive to get to first and goal and help win the game.
As an overall offense, LSU has just nine plays of over 20 yards from scrimmage and a pitiful two plays over 30 yards. Sure, their defense has helped set them up nicely so far this season in terms of field position, but that can't last forever.
Eight of the 12 SEC teams have more 20-yard plus plays on the year than the Tigers, and if they want to continue to compete, the offense, whether on the ground or through the air will need to become a big play offense at some point in time.
The Tigers were lucky to get away with the way they played on offense against Mississippi State putting up just 19 points against a subpar Bulldogs defense.
Receivers must be able to hold on to any catch-able ball thrown their way, and running backs Michael Ford and Spencer Ware need to take every advantage of openings down field to move the sticks further and further down field.
If the Tigers continue to only gain yards through short plays, there will be a chance they could run out of time in a more competitive game down the road against the likes of Alabama, Florida and Arkansas, and not having the big play ability could hinder their chances at winning key games and staying undefeated on their quest to return to BCS glory.
So far this season, LSU's passing game has resulted in just three touchdowns. Senior quarterback Jarrett Lee has had plenty of time to get comfortable in the starting position through three games and has only recorded three touchdowns on 444 yards through the air.
He has also thrown one interception in this time. Although Lee has a very good completion percentage of 67.8 percent, he has yet to produce on the field.
Lee needs to become an offensive leader for the Tigers if they have any hopes of winning their remaining games this season. In last night's victory of SEC opponent Mississippi State, Lee threw for over 200 yards for the first time all season.
He had plenty of opportunities to dominate Northwestern State the week before but was only able to muster 133 yards for one touchdown.
Jarrett Lee has numerous targets including Reuben Randle to throw the ball to but has not been utilizing his weapons to his benefit to put results on the board. Lee and Les Miles need to get the passing game going on a more consistent basis for the rest of the season.
So we've established the streakiness of starting QB Jarrett Lee is an issue for the Tigers, but all blame for the lack of production of the passing game can't be solely placed on the QB.
The Tigers secondary receivers including Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and James Wright have struggled to make a big play once the ball is in their hands.
Beckham Junior is one of Lee's favorite targets to go to when star WR Reuben Randle isn't open, yet his longest receiving play this season is a bleak 13 yards, and he has no TDs on the year.
Another prime target of Lee's is tight end Deangelo Peterson who despite having a relatively good game to kick the year off against Oregon where he posted 62 yards receiving, has mustered just nine yards over the past two games.
Secondary receiving is definitely a spot where the LSU offense can improve on throughout the year, and it will be counted on more and more as the season wears on.