The LSU Tigers and Dallas Cowboys are Similarly Modernizing

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A common theme among sports fans is the idea of the storylines that come out of it. 

Another common theme within sports that fans like to follow, especially among different teams in different leagues, is finding similarities.

A similarity at this stage of the early football season no one is talking about? The resurgence of offense and the similarities the change brings among two premier football teams: the LSU Tigers and Dallas Cowboys. 

When you look at these teams a year ago, they were coming off solid seasons. LSU came off its first 10-win season since 2013, along with un-hinging the then-undefeated UCF Golden Knights to win a New Year’s Six Fiesta Bowl. The Cowboys, meanwhile, after being 2-3 through five games of the season, won 10 games as well and beat the Seahawks in the Wild Card Game, only to lose in the Divisional Playoffs versus the would-be NFC pennant-winning Los Angeles Rams. 

Again, solid seasons. Solid seasons many other teams would gladly take any day of the week. But for teams with as much history and prestige as these two, winning a bowl or playoff game is not enough. 

For both, winning championships is the goal. Hoisting trophies. Wearing championship rings. Winning the biggest games on the biggest stage. That is what both are shooting for. 

The thing that has prevented them from reaching that goal? Offense. In particular, an explosive air attack. 

Let’s look at last season for both teams. Last season, LSU ranked 67thin the entire FBS in passing yards per game with 228.5 yards, while also ranking 95thin passing touchdowns per game, getting slightly over one in the end zone per game through the air. The Cowboys also had issues in the passing department, posting 221.1 yards per game, 23rd in the NFL. The Cowboys also ranked 23rdin the NFL in passing touchdowns, tallying only 22 on the season. 

The similarity is simple at this point. Both teams thrived last season off solid defense and an amazing run game, managing to get by their passing woes by pushing both strengths to their limit. A decent strategy to get to where they got, for sure. 

But to get to where they want to go in hoisting the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy or the Vince Lombardi? You have to be more three-dimensional. Especially in today’s Air raid-oriented offensive schemes throughout the sport. 

Enter the next similarity. 

In the offseason, both squads made an acquisition to fix this area of need. In January of 2019, the Tigers hired New Orleans Saints assistant Joe Brady as their passing game coordinator and right-hand man to offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger. The Cowboys parted ways with Scott Linehan and made Kellen Moore, the former backup quarterback, the new offensive coordinator after being the quarterbacks coach the season prior. 

The results of both hires in regard to passing, through the early part of the season for both teams, has been explosive. For LSU, they rank second in the entire FBS in passing yards per game at 436.3 and tied for sixth in passing touchdowns with 11. LSU, with 1309 passing yards through three games, is the most passing yards for the team through three games to start this season this millennium. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ passing game ranks third in passing yards per game with 333.0 and tied for second in passing touchdowns with seven. The Cowboys’ 666 yards of offense in the air through the first two games is the most since 2011. 

For the similarities, both hires have transformed two ground-oriented offenses into the modern game with more emphasis on dynamic routes for long yardage, deeper throws, and perhaps most significantly, setting up the passing game first to set up the run later. 

These are different offenses. Scarier offenses. Offenses that can go toe-to-toe with any team they are facing this season whether in the regular season or potential postseason. 

The similarities between the two teams are endless and, to a degree, eerily coincidental. As the season progresses, more similarities could arise. 

Sports fans should be here for it. 

Martin Truex Jr. heats up late to win Las Vegas Playoff Opener

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The sparks. The tempers. The tires. Thanks to the blistering dry, skin-boiling Las Vegas heat, every element in tonight’s South Point 400 was on fire, which ended with Martin Truex Jr. marching out as the victor in the desert duel. Truex Jr. became the winningest driver of the 2019 season with his fifth.

For the first two stages, Joey Logano paced the field and was lapping cars left and right. He led 105 of the 267 laps and won stage one. However, as the closing laps of stage two carried on, Truex Jr. was able to catch Logano, due to lap traffic, and take the lead to claim the stage win with two to go in that stage.

For other playoff drivers early on, it was an utter nightmare to kick off the postseason. Erik Jones was stuck in second gear on the stage two restart that sent him to the garage to get fixed. Jones would return to the race down sixteen laps, which resulted in a 36th place finish.

In the final 100 laps, the intensity picked up as multiple drivers in the playoffs would suffer issues. William Byron and Ryan Blaney made contact that resulted in a Byron spin. Kurt Busch would cut a tire after contact with Chase Elliott and slam the wall to end his race. Kurt Busch wound up with a last-place finish. Daniel Suarez and Logano would make contact after Chris Buescher got loose in turn three, resulting in some on-track shenanigans with Logano exchanging sign language with Suarez.

On final pit stops, Truex Jr. passed Kevin Harvick prior to the field cycling out and cruised to victory.

Playoff drivers would claim the entire top ten. Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Elliott, Blaney, Alex Bowman, Byron, Larson, Logano, and Ryan Newman rounded out the top ten in that order. Aric Almirola finished 13th. Denny Hamlin finished 15th.

Kyle Busch rallied to get inside the top ten in the final stage but would have issues with lapped traffic to wind up 19th.

Being the pole sitter was meaningless after all as Clint Bowyer was never a factor in the equation tonight. He finished 25th.

How did it shake up the playoff standings?

After the first of three races in the Round of 16, Newman(-6), Kurt Busch(-14), Bowyer(-21), and Jones(-26) sit below the cut line. Kyle Busch now trails Truex Jr., Harvick, and Logano in points. Larson(8th) and Byron(9th) made the biggest gains once the night wrapped up.

NASCAR will make a quick shift back over to the East Coast with the Richmond Raceway night race next Saturday night.

 

Cup Series Preview: Las Vegas(Playoffs)

The 2019 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series has flown by. It is already September and the stock car racing’s premier division has reached its climax with the start of the playoffs. 16 drivers qualified for the postseason and in nine weeks, the field will be cut to four for the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. This Fall journey begins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, located just north of The Strip.

Yesterday, Clint Bowyer claimed his first pole since 2007 while being joined by all three of his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates in the first two rows. Kurt Busch starts fifth and will be the highest-starting Chevrolet while Chase Elliott starts eighth.

The rest of the playoff field did not fare as well. Denny Hamlin(13th) and William Byron(14th) will roll-off from row number seven. Kyle Larson starts 15th. Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski start in row number nine. Alex Bowman and Kyle Busch start in row ten. Joey Logano drives the number 22 and will start 22nd. Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. start from row twelve and Erik Jones will start deep in the field at 26th to round out the playoff drivers.

Track conditions will be hot and slick as the race will begin in the late afternoon with Vegas weather being around 100 degrees. Numerous adjustments will be made as the race speeds into darkness and track temperatures begin to cool down. However, with the high-downforce aero package, tire wear will not be as much of a factor as it was during this race last year.

From what appeared last night, the grandstands should be in the shade for a majority of tonight’s race, which will ensure that the fans will not be melting like last year. There will be no need to loiter in the walkways.

The stage lengths for the race are 80-80-107. Crew chiefs are saying that the fuel window will be around 60-65 laps, so do not expect to see someone pull off a Tyler Reddick miracle from last night. Drivers will receive ten sets of tires to use throughout the race.

With tonight’s race being an impound race, the starting lineup is not official, therefore the lineup will be sorted out after inspection.

I am going with Kyle Larson to win tonight. The high line was working well for the Xfinity drivers and once tires begin to wear, expect to see Larson wall-riding the entire track.

You can catch the race on NBC Sports Network; coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with the green flag dropping at 7:16 p.m. ET.

Photo via Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire

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