LSU head coach Brian Kelly has a tough task ahead of him in game planning for an impressive Tennessee offense this Saturday. The Vols head into Baton Rouge boasting the No. 1 offense in the country at 559.2 yards per game and one of the fastest offenses in the country for a second straight year.
Attacking an offense that is running as fast as Tennessee is not an easy task. As he explained during his Monday press conference, Kelly is looking to make sure his players are set as quickly as possible each play. Kelly also said that Tennessee’s infrequent use of pre-snap motion is something that he is looking at to give an advantage to his defense.
“Yeah, you’ve got to get your cleats in the ground and you’ve got to go play,” Kelly said on Monday. “So, in one instance, they can’t do a lot of things either, right? So if they’re going to snap the ball with 20 seconds on the clock, there’s not a lot of motion, not a lot of changing of formations. They’ve got to line up right and left, too. So to play fast allows you to, you know, obviously a pretty clean look at what you’re getting. But on the other side, you’re right, you can’t do a lot defensively. But what you can do is get your cleats in the ground, line up, play fast, play free, and play physical. And that’s what we’ll have to do against a really good Tennessee offense.”
Kelly is well-aware of Tennessee’s high-flying offense despite never crossing paths professionally with Vols head coach Josh Heupel before.
“Josh Heupel has done a great job in a very short period of time of putting his stamp on this team,” Kelly said. “It is a fast-paced team. They’re the fastest team in college football. They snap the ball with an average of about 20 seconds on the clock.”
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Brian Kelly, a former coach at Notre Dame for 12 seasons in his first season at the helm for LSU, is not unfamiliar with Tennessee’s starting quarterback Hendon Hooker. In fact, Kelly went through several of the Tennessee offensive weapons on Monday and spoke about what they each bring to the table.
“It’s led by Hendon Hooker, who I got a chance to go against when he was at Virginia Tech,” Kelly said about the Tennessee offense and its signal caller. “He is talented. He’s big, he is physical, he can throw the football. He runs it and he’s got playmakers. They’re electric at the slot with [Jalin] Hyatt, you’ve got a big body guy in Bru McCoy. You know, [Cedric] Tillman obviously didn’t play last week. But he’s an alpha out there for them. Whether he plays or not, they are talented at the wide receiver position. Big, physical up front. They want to run the football. And then defensively, you’ve got athletes all over the place. On the front they played 12 players on the defensive line, so they’re rolling guys in and out.”
On the flip side, Heupel knows that changing up schemes and coverage looks is one of the many weapons that LSU’s defense is going to try to use against his offense.
“You’ll see press-man at times but you see a bunch of coverage variation from them, too,” Heupel said about the LSU secondary on Monday morning. “So Hendon’s got to do a great job of identifying the rotations. Our receivers have got to do the same thing.”
Heupel also said on Monday that man-to-man is something that Tennessee is going to see, and that’s just about the Vol receivers winning the one-on-one battle.
No. 8 Tennessee will take on No. 25 LSU in Baton Rouge this Saturday at 12 p.m. noon EST.