- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Times are changing on the Bayou, and so is LSU’s offense.
It’s true that the Tigers can still bully you with their running game, especially now that Jeremy Hill is back in good graces.
But what makes this offense different is a passing game that can strike from anywhere on the field and two red-hot receivers who are making good on a promise they made to each other back in the offseason.
And remember all those explosive plays down the field the Tigers didn’t make last season?
Well, through four games, Beckham and Landry have combined for 26 plays of 15 yards or longer and nine touchdowns of 20 yards or longer, which includes Beckham’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against UAB.
“We told each other that our motto this year was going to be, ‘Don’t blink,’” Beckham said. “That’s because if you’re at home watching on TV and step away for a second, you might miss an exciting play.”
There’s no downplaying first-year coordinator Cam Cameron’s influence on the Tigers’ offense. It has much more of an NFL feel to it than it ever did in the past under Les Miles.
But there’s also no downplaying the role Beckham and Landry have played in helping to open up the offense for everybody else. What’s more, they’re a perfect complement for each other.
Beckham is the speed guy who can stretch the field and demoralize defenses with big plays. He’s averaging 19.5 yards per catch, and 10 of his 20 catches have been for 20 yards or longer.
Landry is one of the best route-runners in the SEC and is absolutely fearless. He’s also terrific after the catch, and though he’s not a burner, you rarely see people catching him from behind. He’s caught touchdown passes in each of his last six games and eight of his last nine contests dating back to last season.
“The great thing for a quarterback is that one of them always seems to be open,” said LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who’s thrown 10 touchdown passes and only one interception this season. “If you try to take one of them away, the other one’s going to get you.”
They’re more than just receivers, too.
Beckham is a dangerous return specialist and leads the SEC in all-purpose yardage (197.5 yards per game). Landry first made his mark at LSU by blowing people up while covering kicks, and in high school, was his team’s starting middle linebacker.
“I take a lot of pride in that, being a football player. Both of us do,” Landry said. “Those types of players are a rarity now, guys who can do a little bit of everything. Just because I’m on offense and catching passes doesn’t mean I’m not going out there and looking to attack. I believe that’s the way you’ve got to play this game no matter what position you’re playing.”
It’s not a coincidence that Beckham and Landry play so well off of each other on the field. They’ve known each other since their high school days and are extremely close off the field.
In fact, they hit it off at a 7-on-7 camp in Tuscaloosa during the summer prior to their senior year of high school and sort of decided then that they wanted to play together in college.
“Because we’re so close, we have the ability to critique each other and push each other, whether it be in practice or wherever,” Landry said. “Odell's got great speed, vision with the ball and the yards after the catch, and my strength is catching the ball and being physical. I’m always taking something out of his book or helping him with something I do well to complement his game.”
Added Beckham, “He’s like the brother I never had, and whenever he makes a big play, I just tell him, ‘Now, it’s my turn.’ ”
They take on a Georgia defense this weekend that currently ranks last in the SEC in pass efficiency defense. The Bulldogs are also extremely young in the secondary with a pair of true freshmen and a sophomore in the starting lineup.
A few weeks ago, South Carolina had success going after freshman cornerback Brendan Langley, who was beaten on a couple of longer touchdown passes.
With so much success already this season, you can bet the Tigers will also take their shots down the field and test that Georgia secondary.
“Whoever we go up against, this offense is designed to create mismatches and put guys in position to win one-on-one matches, and one-on-one matches with guys like Odell Beckham is a nightmare,” Landry said. “But the biggest part of this offense gets down to guys making plays, and right now, we have a lot of those guys all over the field.”
2dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
3dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney