|LSU could try to make Ohio State ill with two mobile quarterbacks|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 05 January 2008 13:15|
Led by All-America linebacker James Laurinaitis, and second-team All-Americans Vernon Gholston at defensive end and Malcolm Jenkins at cornerback, the Buckeyes ranked in the top three in the nation in just about every major statistical category.
There was, however, this one game against Illinois in November...
In the Buckeyes' only loss, they allowed 260 yards rushing and four touchdown passes against the Illini's spread-option offense and didn't force a turnover.
What does that have to do with the BCS national championship game on Monday night, when the top-ranked Buckeyes play No. 2 LSU?
``Illinois runs almost the exact offense that we run,'' LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux said Saturday.
Uh-oh, Ohio State.
``They definitely have the ability to go with the two-back, zone option stuff that Illinois did,'' Laurinaitis said during media day at the Superdome for the Buckeyes and Tigers. ``They love to run the football, that's what they're going to do first. We have to stop that.''
Illinois handed Ohio State (11-1) that 28-21 loss in Columbus and Illini quarterback Juice Williams was the catalyst. He tossed four touchdowns and ran for 70 yards, much of it on the final, clock-killing drive that lasted more than eight minutes.
Quarterbacks who run and throw well are problematic to any defense. How many teams stopped Florida's Tim Tebow this season? And remember how Vince Young put on maybe the greatest single-game performance in college football history when Texas beat Southern California in the Rose Bowl for the 2005 BCS title?
LSU (11-2) has two quarterbacks who pose a dual-threat in starter Matt Flynn and Perrilloux. Flynn's running has been limited this season because of injuries. Perrilloux has mostly filled a role similar to what Tebow did for the Gators during their 2006 championship season - which ended with a 41-14 victory over Ohio State - but he's far more advanced as a passer than the Heisman Trophy winner was last season.
Perrilloux, a sophomore, has started twice, including the SEC title game against Tennessee, and passed for 541 yards and four touchdowns in games when Flynn was banged-up.
When Flynn is fine, and he says time off has helped heal his sprained ankle and bruised throwing shoulder, Perrilloux mostly runs the type of keepers that Williams used so effectively against the Buckeyes.
With Perrilloux designated the ``running'' quarterback, Flynn's mobility has been overlooked.
``Me and Matt are pretty much the same height, same speed, same weight,'' Perrilloux said. ``I'd rather go in there and take that lick for him so he can stay healthy.''
It's hard not to look at Perrilloux and Flynn and think about what Williams did to the Buckeyes.
Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Heacock wasn't about to get into the similarities and potential problems they could pose for the Buckeyes' defense, which was tops in the nation in fewest points (10.7) and yards allowed (225) per game.
``I know Juice was good against us,'' Heacock said. ``And we didn't play as well as we needed to to win that football game. But as far as comparing, I really couldn't do that.''
While LSU does much of what Illinois does offensively, the Tigers aren't primarily a spread-option team like the Illini. To call LSU's offense, which averages 39 points per game, multiple is an understatement.
``They have so many ways that they can attack you,'' Laurinaitis said.
LSU coach Les Miles strives for a balanced offense, with a power running game as the foundation. This season the former Michigan offensive lineman brought in Gary Crowton as offensive coordinator, who added some spread offense to the mix.
``We have a lot of physical play in our offense. It starts with our offensive line,'' said Crowton, the former BYU coach. ``From the same standpoint, we have the ability to go four wides with speed all over. I think it gives us some versatility. Hopefully we'll be able to use some of that versatility.''
Laurinaitis said it wasn't the option or any particular issues the Buckeyes have with mobile quarterbacks that cost them against the Illini.
``I don't think it was a matter of scheme,'' he said. ``They were more physical, they ran the ball on us.''
Certainly, the Tigers will try to do the same and give the Buckeyes a taste of LSU juice.