The question came up soon after Troy running back Jordan Chunn sliced through the LSU defense for a 74-yard run early in the third quarter: “Who is to blame? Is it Les Miles or Ed Orgeron?”
The answer is, there’s plenty of blame to go around.
For the rest of 2017, there are very few solutions for an LSU football team that is a lock to fall short of the school’s string of 16 consecutive seasons with at least eight wins.
The postmortem after the loss to Troy was telling. Orgeron said he was unaware that “our third-string” tailback, Nick Brossette, would carry the football on the first play from scrimmage. Brossette fumbled. Five plays later, Troy scored the game’s first touchdown.
Orgeron said going forward, he would have to “do his best job ever,” but the reality is there is little remedy that can be found during the season.
The fact is that after the LSU draft class of 2017 – one that produced three first-round picks – the drop in talent has been precipitous.
No knock on our Sun Belt friends because they play a solid brand of football, but when a back from their league comes to Tiger Stadium and runs 30 times for 191 yards, that is totally unacceptable. On Chunn’s 74-yard run on the second play of the third quarter, a pair of Tigers, linebacker Devon White and safety Grant Delpit, either lost sight of the runner or simply didn’t engage.
They didn’t get any help or penetration up front, either. The LSU defense, the one that allowed only 16 touchdowns in 12 games in 2016, looked soft.
Offensively, in the first half, LSU ditched the motions and shifts of offensive coordinator Matt Canada. It looked like a panic move. Canada came here to run his offense, the one that handed national champion Clemson its only loss of the 2016 season. But there’s only so much Canada can do. His offensive line can’t move people.
Without injured running back Derrius Guice, LSU had only one difference-maker on the field. He’s wide receiver D.J. Chark, who didn’t even get a chance to make a significant contribution until after Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron were fired last September.
One year and five days after Miles was canned, the effects of his subpar recruiting were on full display. The most effective Tiger on the field against Troy was tight end Foster Moreau of Jesuit. Moreau scored two of LSU’s three touchdowns on pass receptions of 7 and 20 yards.
On the morning of signing day in February 2016, Moreau had one offer, from Tulane University. A scholarship became available and Miles finally pulled the trigger, offering it to one of the best tight ends in recent memory in the New Orleans Catholic League.
At least two reporters who cover high school sports in New Orleans had been urging LSU for months to offer a scholarship to Moreau. In the minutes after the debacle against Troy, Moreau stepped into the interview room to answer reporters’ questions.
Asked if he was worried about the rest of the season, Moreau said: “Not at all. I know my players, this offense, this defense, this coaching staff, I know the leadership. And, I know we can bounce back.”
If that happens, somewhere up in the big stadium in the sky, Harry Houdini will be smiling.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.