No. 22 LSU’s high-scoring offense has been more balanced over the last two weeks.
Auburn’s offense is trying to do the same as these two sets of Tigers prepare to meet in a Southeastern Conference game on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La.
Jayden Daniels has been one of the most productive offensive players in the country for LSU (4-2, 3-1 SEC). He has been named SEC Offensive Player of the Week three times this season and leads a unit that ranks third best in the FBS in total offense (548.3 yards per game).
“The offense continues to do some great things,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said. “The offense is playing at an incredible level.”
So is Daniels, who also is the team’s No. 2 rusher. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns while adding 130 yards and a score on the ground in last Saturday’s 49-39 victory over Missouri.
“I see those little things that he’s doing under duress or under pressure or getting hit after he throws a very accurate ball are starting to separate him from good to great,” Kelly said of Daniels.
The offense was pass-heavy in the first few games of the season, but running back Logan Diggs has had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to provide Daniels with some support.
But slowing other teams down has started to become an issue, as LSU is allowing opponents to put up 445.7 yards per game, ranking 121st in total defense in the FBS.
Kelly remains optimistic, though.
“We feel there’s some light there at the end of the tunnel for our defense,” Kelly said after Missouri scored just 14 second-half points last Saturday.
After playing four of its first six games away from home, facing ranked opponents in three of those contests, LSU will play five of its last six games at home.
“We’re right in the hunt and the season is in front of us,” Kelly said.
Unlike LSU, Auburn (3-2, 0-2) has leaned on its running game on offense, which ranks 13th in total yards per game (358.2) in the 14-team SEC.
“I do think you need to be balanced to win big games,” Auburn coach Hugh Freeze said. “That’s been a challenge for us to this point. We got to shorten this game (against LSU).”
Auburn is coming off a bye week after a hard-fought 27-20 home loss to No. 1 Georgia on Sept. 30.
Freeze said he and his staff spent time during the open week “trying to make sure our identity — particularly in the passing game — matches our personnel.
“Whatever we feel strongly in that,” Freeze continued, “then let’s do it over and over and over and over and over again until we are really, really confident and are really, really good at that.”
Freeze noted that Ole Miss’ and Missouri’s approach was to let their high-powered offenses try to outscore LSU in a shootout.
“But I think their makeup is a little different offensively,” Freeze said. “I’m not sure that is the plan for us.”
As evidence of that, Auburn’s Payton Thorne is ranked last among SEC starting quarterbacks in passer rating.