LSU opens up offense
First-year coordinator Gary Crowton adds new wrinkles to Tigers' attack
By Glenn Guilbeau
Louisiana Gannett News
BATON ROUGE — Coach Les Miles joked last week that LSU's offense did not hide any top secret plays during the season opener at Mississippi State to unleash against No. 9 Virginia Tech in week two.
"Don't expect us to know to unveil the new 'Wontongo' offense," Miles said.
Wontongo may be in the eye of the beholder, however. As far as Virginia Tech first team preseason All-American cornerback Brandon Flowers is concerned, the Hokies got "Wontongoed," throughout the night by LSU in the 48-7 loss Saturday.
Flowers and LSU wide receiver Early Doucet spoke in between plays while LSU built a 14-0 first quarter lead on its first two possessions that grew to 24-0 by halftime as the Tigers amassed 598 yards against the nation's No. 1 defense in 2005 and 2006.
"He was like, 'Man, your offensive coordinator, man, he's a beast! Because it seems like everywhere we blitz, that's where you all throw the ball,'" Doucet said Flowers told him.
Actually, new LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton's nickname is "The Wizard," and it was Doucet who came up with it last spring when Crowton was drawing plays like crazy on the blackboard.
"He's the wizard," said Doucet, who saw his coach live up to his nickname before his very eyes. "It's just amazing when you prepare for something and then you see it actually happen and you get to execute it," Doucet said. "It just makes you feel that much better. That's pretty much how it was the whole night."
Doucet caught six passes for 75 yards with a 34-yard touchdown from backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux. Starting quarterback Matt Flynn and Perrilloux combined to complete 22 of 32 passes to nine receivers for 301 yards and seven players rushed for a total of 297 yards.
The Tigers averaged 8.2 yards a play using the option, three wide receiver sets, four wide receiver sets, traditional two back and two receiver sets and the new "Pistol" formation that is an offshoot of the Shotgun with a tailback behind the quarterback. Players substituted in and out perhaps like never before at LSU. There are play packages for Flynn and packages for Perrilloux.
"I mean he (Crowton) had a great game plan," Doucet said. "They did a tremendous job of preparing us for Virginia Tech, and we had an outstanding game. It was just based on their defense. Wherever they blitzed, we just threw the ball to the spot they blitzed from. They knew what kind of defenses they were going to run, and that was the exact defenses that they ran."
LSU coach Les Miles said opponents often do not know what's coming.
"I think we substitute more and change personnel more often than we did a year ago," he said in reference to former offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher. "And I think it's maybe much less predictable."
There is such a flow of players in and out that defenses have not been able to relate tendencies to personnel.
"When I first got here, I was just in on pass plays," said senior running back Jacob Hester, who rushed 12 times for 81 yards and caught a 28-yard pass. "They keyed on that. So it's better to switch a lot of players so they can't. It's a lot more stuff, and we do so many more things out of formations. It's a lot more plays."
There was such wizardry from Crowton that the quarterbacks rarely checked off.
"It was all the plays that were called," Doucet said. "We stuck with them. Wherever they said they were going to blitz from, that's exactly where they blitzed from."
And the wizard's bag of plays is far from empty. Apparently after so much early success against Tech, some of the Wontongo stayed off the dance floor and could be used Saturday against Middle Tennessee.
"We did some different things, but we still haven't showed some of the stuff we can do," Doucet said. "We still kept it a little simple because we got on them and kept getting on them. They never got a chance to fight back, so we didn't have to do too much."
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