AUSTIN, Texas — With No. 6 LSU holding a six-point lead at No. 9 Texas with about four minutes to go on Saturday night, LSU coach Ed Orgeron asked offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger if he wanted to go into four-minute offense to try to run out the clock.
“No,” Ensminger told him. “We’re going to pass the ball, go down there and score.”
“Go ahead,” Orgeron told him.
With the way LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was playing, it’s hard to blame them.
Burrow, a senior who transferred to LSU from Ohio State before the 2018 season, had the best game of his career in LSU’s 45-38 victory at Darrell K Royal Stadium, completing 31 of 39 passes for 471 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
Burrow is the first LSU quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards against an AP-ranked opponent since Rohan Davey against Illinois in the 2002 Sugar Bowl.
Burrow is only the third player to throw for 400 yards in a game in LSU history. His 471 passing yards are second most in school history to Davey’s 528 against Alabama in 2001.
“That was awesome,” Orgeron said. “Man, he was fired up. The kid is a baller. He lives for that moment, and I’ll tell you what, those were some tough plays. It was loud out there, and he got it done.”
Burrow’s biggest throw was his last one. On third-and-17 from the LSU 39, he threw down the left sideline for Justin Jefferson, who hauled in the catch and broke loose for a 61-yard touchdown. Burrow’s two-point conversion pass to Ja’Marr Chase gave LSU a 45-31 lead with 2:27 to go.
“[Texas] was playing so well on offense, we knew we were going to have to score again to win,” Burrow said. “I kept telling the guys, ‘Forty and we’ll win.’ We had to stay aggressive.”
LSU’s new approach on offense — Orgeron hired former New Orleans Saints assistant Joe Brady as his team’s passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach after the 2018 season — is quite a change from the Tigers’ philosophy in the past, which traditionally was to rely on running backs such as Leonard Fournette and throw the ball only when they had to.
The Tigers had 573 yards of offense against Texas and passed the ball 39 times compared to 29 runs. For the first time in school history, the Tigers had three 100-yard receivers (Jefferson had nine catches for 163 yards, Chase had eight for 147 and Terrace Marshall Jr. had six for 123).
“There’s still a lot of room for improvement,” Burrow said. “We had over 500 yards, but we could have had 600 or 700. We’re going to get better.”