LSU Film Room: O-line dominates; Leonard Fournette crushes defenders; and, oh, so many other highlights _lowres

LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) runs past Auburn defensive back Blake Countess (24) on a touchdown run in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Welcome to Film Room, our weekly analysis of LSU’s last football game. Have a seat. No talking. No tweeting. No texting. Pay attention.

(click photos to enlarge)

How They Happened (big-play analysis)

A good – really good – start: On the game’s first play, LSU RB Leonard Fournette races up the middle for a 71-yard run.

There is not a play more indicative of the entire game than this one. Fittingly, it came on the very first play from scrimmage. LSU’s offensive line really dominated Auburn’s front seven, and, on this play in particular, a trio of linemen created a massive hole and running lane for Fournette.IMG_5689

Let’s start with the three circles. The one to the left is C Ethan Pocic. At the center is RG Will Clapp. At the right is RT Vadal Alexander. Each of them wins a one-on-one matchup with their man. All three of them took their man to the ground for a pancake block.

You see the arrow? That’s Auburn linebacker Kris Frost, a veteran and one of AU’s team leaders. This play is designed to go left, behind LG Maea Teuhema. And that’s where Frost goes. One step toward that area is all LSU needed to take him out of the play. Fournette uses his vision to see that the play is developing more at the center. He heads that way for 71 yards.

Fooled ya: On third-and-3 and backed up on its own 12-yard line, Brandon Harris keeps the ball for a 33-yard designed QB run.IMG_5693

First, we’ll tell you about the circles. The black circle is Fournette. The red circle is speedy WR Travin Dural. Dural starts in motion before the snap, running from your right to the left. Harris fakes a hand off to him. Most of the defenders think this play is heading left to Dural or, heck, to Fournette, the guy who ran for 228 yards. All of the defenders are moving in that direction.

This play also works because of three key blocks. You see the blocking lines, right? No. 64 is Clapp and No. 77 is Pocic. They each account for a man on the outside, and Harris (black line) splits the two big guys’ blocks on the perimeter. “Well blocked by Clapp again!” says broadcaster Gary Danielson. Clapp had a good game.

Do you see the LSU player between Clapp and Pocic in that photo? That’s TE DeSean Smith. He’s not known for being much of a blocker, but he walls off the end on this play – a third key block to spring Harris down the field.

Slowing the option: On first-and-10 from the AU 49, Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson is dropped for a loss of 1 yards.

This is not a significant or game-changing play, but it’s a sign of things to come. LSU slowed Auburn’s up-tempo, run-centric option game with QB Jeremy Johnson and his speedsters.IMG_5694

This is an option to the left. Jeremy Johnson (black arrow) makes a decision to pitch it instead of keeping it. Why? Because DE Tashawn Bower (black arrow) plays it well, eyeing Jeremy Johnson from the snap and forcing him to make the pitch. That’s one reason this play works. And, now, to the second reason… safety Jamal Adams.

Adams (bottom red circle) has come down some 10 yards from his safety spot. He started the move even before the snap. As soon as Kerryon Johnson starting in motion, Adams bolted down. FB Chandler Cox (red arrow) is the lead blocker on the play. He can’t block both LB Deion Jones (top red circle) and Adams. It results in Adams dropping Kerryon Johnson for a loss.

The ole option keeper: On third and goal from the 2, Harris keeps the ball on an option play with Fournette, running into the end zone for the score. IMG_5695

This play, first off, is pretty well defended. Harris makes a fake of one player and makes two others miss enough to squeeze into the end zone. However, credit RB Darrel Williams (red circle) and the fake FB dive for at least holding the linebackers in place for a few moments. Yes, that’s Williams at FB – not JD Moore.

Some credit also goes to RT Jerald Hawkins and TE Dillon Gordon (red arrows). That’s more than 600 pounds of mass right there. They both push their guys so far down the field – into the end zone – that they disrupt LB Cassanova McKinzy’s (black arrow) pursuit of the option.

Throw it to the tight end: On third and goal from the 1-yard line, Brandon Harris faked to Fournette and rolled right to find Colin Jeter for a 1-yard touchdown.IMG_5701

The key on this play is Jeter getting separation from Auburn DB Carlton Davis (red circle). How does he do that? Leonard Fournette (red arrow) helps. Davis watches as Harris fakes the handoff to Fournette. He steps toward the running back before realizing his mistake. It’s too late. Harris throws a perfect pass to an open Jeter in the end zone corner.

Broadcaster Gary Danielson calls this a “delayed tight end” play. LSU has run it before (Remember Logan Stokes last season against Ole Miss?). Jeter acts as if he’s blocking before running the route.

Video of the play:

QB all the way: Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson, on a second-and-13 from the AU 35, runs 65 yards for a touchdown on a play right up the middle.

Auburn RG Braden Smith does a great job on this play. He’s the lead blocker for Johnson. AU’s O-line splits Christian LaCouture and Davon Godchaux, creating a massive hole. IMG_5711

The play really came down to the photo you see on the right. Three LSU defensive backs are there for the tackle. Safety Jamal Adams (black circle) makes the biggest mistakes. Broadcaster Gary Danielson says Adams “gambles a bit too much” by running around the blocker instead of taking on Smith. Rickey Jefferson (red circle) is blocked out of the way by Smith and Adams. And Tre White (yellow circle) is blocked out by WR Duke Williams.

Big Ugly Blips and Booms (O-line analysis)

It was Will Clapp’s day. He led an offensive line that rolled Auburn’s defensive front – an absolute dominating performance. Clapp had 10 Booms. A reminder, a Boom is a block that’s key to a positive rushing play. TE Colin Jeter had six Booms (and two catches as well, including a TD).

LSU O-line coach Jeff Grimes said in the preseason that he’d play his best five linemen, shuffling them around if need be. I think he’s found the five: LT Jerald Hawkins, LG Maea Teuhema, C Ethan Pocic, RG Clapp and RT Vadal Alexander.

The Tigers pulled Clapp a ton. He was an instrumental part of Fournette’s 228 yards rushing. They like to pull Pocic, too. In fact, on several plays, Clapp and Pocic both pulled as the lead blocker for the running back.

Jeter was a force with TE Dillon Gordon out with an Achilles injury (Gordon played just the first two offensive series). He played nearly every snap, it seemed, rolling up key blocks for Fournette. Here’s one example:

Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)

Harris had three Misfires, poor passes to open receivers. Two of those were intended for Travin Dural – both in the end zone. He had another Misfire over the middle later in the game. Here’s his worst pass of the day. Dural gets open in the end zone and Harris’ throw is late and high. The ball is circled in red.

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Broadcaster Gary Danielson notes that Harris is “a ways” from perfecting his timing with the passing game, but the color analyst seems confident Harris will get it done if LSU’s running back can continue to roll up yards.

LSU OC Cam Cameron told the CBS crew that Harris “was a little bit complaining” about only throwing 14 passes in a win at Mississippi State in the season opener, Danielson said. Cameron joked with the QB about it, the broadcaster said.

Harris is finding his way on the ground. He had one scramble for 26 yards and three other designed runs totaling 39 yards. One was a 33-yard jaunt on a fake sweep to Dural, which we noted in our Big Play Breakdowns above.

Backing It Up (RB/FB analysis)

Fournette ran for 228 yards, if you haven’t heard. He broke 14 tackles in his 19 carries, according to our count after studying the replay of the game. That’s nearly one broken tackle each carry. He had multiple broken tackles on at least four carries. LSU’s O-line helped him out a ton, but there’s no way around it – Fournette created at least one-third of his rushing yards with moves at the second and third level.

Fournette flashed the things that make him special. He has the rare blend of power, speed and agility. Check it out:

Danielson compared Fournette to two players during the game: Herschel Walker and Adrian Peterson. Said Danielson on Fournette: “He could play on any team on any level … in the NFL.”

Remember when we said that Fournette created at least one-third of his yards on his own? The next video shows you that during his 29-yard run. Jeter and FB JD Moore create the hole, and Fournette breaks three tackles.

Remember the Auburn DB who said “it shouldn’t be too difficult” of a challenge to stop Fournette? See below:

LSU is trying its best to spread Fournette around and get him into space. Below, you’ll see a designed swing pass to Fournette. He goes in motion just before the snap. Harris whistles a nice pass to him, and Fournette follows the blocks of Jeter, WR Trey Quinn and TE Dillon Gordon for a 10-yard gain.

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When Fournette needed a rest – especially in the second half – true freshmen Derrius Guice and Nick Brossette entered the game. Guice showed flashes of the guy coach Les Miles said has “unbelievable skills.” That’s at least what Miles told CBS. Here’s one example of Guice’s skills:

Guice received 10 snaps. Brossette got 7. FB Bry’Kiethon Mouton got about 4 snaps late in the game.

Moore, the starting fullback, had a nice game. Not great, but very good. Sometimes Moore, a former walk-on, doesn’t complete his block fully. He’ll bury his head as he hammers a man and that sometimes results in a miss. He only had a couple of those to go with five Booms.

A note about fullback: Darrel Williams lined up at fullback at least two times and got a carry out of that formation. David Ducre, the highly touted FB signee who joined in January, did not play. He has not yet played this season.

Five-yard Out (WR analysis)

Travin Dural led this group. He’s becoming a big part of the offense, but it’s not in the way you’d expect. LSU ran the jet sweep and jet sweep fake with Dural at least eight times. They count as passes, but they’re jet sweeps. He took the first two for 5 and 2 yards and then LSU faked it to him on six other plays. We have the play designs below.

These jet sweep fakes are a big part of the Tigers’ offense. It’s a misdirection design, a creative way to run the football. Harris has a choice to do three things on these plays: keep it himself, hand to the running back or give to Dural on the sweep. In the first photo, Harris gives it to RB Darrel Williams (blue line) after faking to Dural (yellow line). Clapp and TE DeSean Smith pull as lead blockers.

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In this second photo, Harris (black line) keeps it around left end after faking to Dural. As he’s faking to Dural (yellow), Williams (blue) darts toward right end, ready to block for the possible sweep. There might not be any pre-snap reading going on here for Harris. We’re unsure of that. But since Smith and Clapp pull, it’s a good bet this is a designed Harris keeper the whole time.

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LSU used five receivers in the game – if you count Donte Jackson a receiver. He entered for one play and – guess what? – took a handoff on the jet sweep. DJ Chark did not play – at least I never noticed him. If he did play, it was very little. TE Jacory Washington also did not play. True freshman Foster Moreau, however, served as the Tigers No. 2/3 tight end with Gordon out. He played a lot, mostly as a blocking TE with Jeter.

Front Seven (D-line/LB analysis)

It was an impressive showing by this group. They finished with five sacks and about eight total Pressures. That doesn’t seem like a ton of Pressures, especially since they had nearly 20 at State, but Auburn threw the ball far less than the Bulldogs.

We are two games into the 2015 season and LSU has not played the 4-3 “base” defense. The Tigers were in nickel (4-2-5) mostly. They played Dime (3-2-6) on 11 plays. Six of those Dime plays came in the fourth quarter, when Auburn was passing in an attempt to come out.

This group had loads of missed tackles in the 41-7 loss at Auburn last season. They had just 2-3 missed tackles in this game. In fact, LSU had about five missed tackles Saturday. The Tigers had 19 in the loss last year at Auburn.

LSU isn’t subbing much still, but they did sub earlier in the game than last week – something determined, likely, by the blowout score. LSU, after all, led 14-0 after the first quarter. Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore both played about nine plays. Duke Riley and Lamar Lewis each played 10 snaps, and Donnie Alexander got in for about seven snaps.

At end, Sione Teuhema played four snaps and Deondre Clark played two. Quentin Thomas did not play. Arden Key, Tashawn Bower and Lewis Neal split most of the snaps in three ways. Bower had two Pressures and two Attacks. He had a nice day.

LSU’s No. 2 LB group appears to be Duke Riley and Donnie Alexander or Lamar Lewis. Riley will likely get the snaps that Deion Jones would have in the first half at Syracuse. Remember, Jones will miss the first half after his ejection for the below targeting foul. Riley replaced Jones for the rest of the game. Jones received the penalty with LSU up 45-21 and six minutes left in the game.

Let me spend a few lines here discussing Davon Godchaux. The guy is everywhere. He had two Pressures and two Attacks (reminder: an Attack is an exceptional defensive play that ends in negative yards or little gain). His first step can only be described as explosive. He timed Auburn’s snaps many times – jumping into the offensive lineman as the ball is snapped. Herron did this, too – especially on his sack-fumble. Check it out:

Break It Up (DB analysis)

Jamal Adams, like Godchaux, seemed to be in on every play. The kid knows football. Check out these next two Vines. Both happened on Auburn’s first series of the game:

Adams led the team with three Attacks. He had one missed tackle. As expected, he’ll be a key player moving forward for LSU’s defense. Rickey Jefferson isn’t far behind him either. Jefferson had two Attacks. His closing speed is very good.

When LSU moved to the six-defensive back Dime look, Corey Thompson served as the safety along side Jefferson and Adams moved into the linebacker level as the dimeback.

There seems to be a competition at nickelback between Dwayne Thomas and Donte Jackson. Jackson got 16 snaps at NB after seeing about three plays last week. Why? Thomas had some hiccups in the opener, and I guess coaches want to give the speedy Jackson a try. Jackson basically played about one-third of the snaps at NB and Thomas got the rest.

Ed Paris did not play on defense – at least we didn’t see him. Tre White and Kevin Toliver were the cornerbacks for the game’s entirety, even when LSU led 45-14 late in the fourth quarter.