BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The time has come for LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and the sixth-ranked Tigers to debut the revamped offense they've been raving about since spring practice.
"We're going to spread the ball around," Burrow promised as he looked forward Saturday night's season opener against upstart Georgia Southern. "We have playmakers all over the field that they're going to have to account for."
LSU coach Ed Orgeron says the new offense is going to be "strictly spread," with five receiving targets on many plays and as few as five pass protectors for Burrow, who'll have to be ready to unload the ball quickly.
Orgeron said Burrow's combination of decision-making, throwing ability and acumen as a runner — when necessary — has accelerated the new scheme's installation.
"I do believe we're going to be great because of our quarterback," Orgeron said. "Our quarterback can handle most situations. I think he's a game-changer."
It certainly sounds like Burrow's teammates have bought in.
"It's going to be really electric when we open up the new offense," fullback Tory Carter said. "People are going to be really surprised.
"It's changed a lot and we've worked really hard in the offseason," he continued. "We've got a lot to show people."
Maybe they won't show everything in Week 1, given a much more anticipated showdown looms the following week at Texas, ranked 10th in the opening AP Top 25 Poll.
But Burrow said LSU has to be prepared to execute the new scheme fully against Georgia Southern, a triple-option team that turned the ball over just five times last season — and did not throw an interception — while going 10-3.
Facing the Eagles means being "ready to score on all the possessions that you get, because you might not get a lot," Burrow said.
Georgia Southern was among the most improved teams in the nation last season under coach Chad Lunsford and sees itself as a contender in the Sunbelt Conference.
"We will get in trouble if we sit here and go, 'We're going to sneak up on people,'" Lunsford said while addressing the notion that LSU might be focused more on the Longhorns than the Eagles. "I'm sure LSU is preparing to play us and not play another football team.
"What we talk about an awful lot at Georgia Southern is our history of going up against these types of opponents — and how close we've come in a lot of them."
Some other things to know about the Eagles' first visit to Tiger Stadium:
The game marks the debut of LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. , who is slated to start as a freshman after being among the highest rated prospects in the nation.
"Stingley is ahead of the game, man," LSU safety JaCoby Stevens said. "He's physically, mentally and emotionally a grown man playing at a freshman's age. He's always locked in. We're going to depend on him a lot."
Lunsford didn't seem offended that LSU is favored by nearly four touchdowns. He expects his team to be motivated regardless.
"To the outside world it's definitely a mismatch. But our guys — they work hard. They want to show that they belong," Lunsford said. "We'll be blue collar. We'll be disciplined. We'll be tough and we'll see how this thing unfolds."
K'Lavon Chaisson was expected to be LSU's top pass-rusher last season, but needed knee surgery after Week 1 and hasn't played since. Now he's healthy and slated to start . But against the Eagles, he'll have to be disciplined when dual-threat quarterback Shai Werts runs option plays to his side.
When Werts "gets on the edge, he's very dangerous," Orgeron warned. "He can make you miss. He'll pitch it at any time. That's where they make their big plays."
Werts accounted for 25 TDs last season, 15 rushing and 10 passing.
The game marks the debut of LSU place kicker Cade York, who was recruited to fill the void created by the departure of Tigers record-setter Cole Tracy.
"We believe in Cade, but we have to put him underneath the pressure, underneath the lights," Orgeron said. "I do believe he has a stronger leg than our kicker last year. ... This guy has a bigger upside. We need to see, though."
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