Power aid: Orgeron beefing up O line with behemoths

The early signing period in college football kicks off in a few days.

And, in the class of 2018, LSU’s Ed Orgeron has gone big. And, I like it.

Since the 2000 season, LSU football has won at least eight games, every year. That consistency happened with power offensive football and great defense.

At the end of the Les Miles era, it wasn’t the philosophy but the players executing it that caused the program to slip. Orgeron said it best when speaking about a losing streak to Alabama that has now reached seven games: “We need first-round picks to block their first-round picks.”

So, in the first 20 commitments from the class of 2018, LSU has five players who weigh more than 300 pounds. That class includes a pair of behemoths, offensive tackle Badora Traore (6-8, 315) and guard Damien Lewis (6-3, 320). Both are rated as two of the top junior college prospects in the country.

Nine of the first 20 commits were lineman.

At the end of the 2017 season, as the Tigers won six of their last seven, there were few complaints about the style of the LSU offense – and Danny Etling threw sparingly.

In seven games, Etling threw 17 passes or fewer. Etling reached the 30-attempt mark in only one game, a season-ending 45-21 victory over Texas A&M.

Even in the comeback win over Auburn, Etling threw only 24 passes. While throwing it sparingly, Etling was effective. His yards per attempt rose from 7.89 to 9.23. His touchdown passes rose from 11 in 2016 to 14 this year. And, his interception total was cut from five to two.

It is the style of football that Orgeron prefers. The numbers say running the football, even in the spread offense era, is championship football.

Of the four teams in the College Football Playoff, only one, Oklahoma, was ranked in the top 50 in passing offense (No. 3).

But in rushing offense, all four were in the Top 33: Alabama was 10th, Georgia 11th, Oklahoma 27th and Clemson 33rd.

The inability to control the line of scrimmage is the reason why LSU’s last win over Alabama was in November 2011. The ability to control the line of scrimmage is the reason why LSU has whipped Texas A&M six straight times since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012.

After the win over the Aggies, Orgeron raised some eyebrows when he said he would consider current tight ends coach Steve Ensminger to coordinate the LSU offense if Matt Canada departed.

Orgeron promoted Ensminger to offensive coordinator after he fired Cam Cameron. But whether it is Canada, Ensminger or someone else, Orgeron has made things clear in his recruiting class of 2018: His Tigers will always be power first.

 Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarionherald.org.

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