Film Room: Unscripted 'Flip to Fournette,' other big plays, analysis of LSU's win at Syracuse _lowres

LSU Syracuse film room

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)

Untouched return: With 7 minutes, 48 seconds left in the third quarter, CB Tre White returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown to extend LSU’s lead from 10-3 to 17-3. White wasn’t touched on this return. At least he didn’t appear like it on the replay. That means he had to have great blocking right? Well, yes, but it’s not as much as you might think. White did much of it on his own and Syracuse did a poor job in coverage. White saw two lanes during the return, making two separate cuts (you see the first below with the black line). He used his speed to race past defenders.

  • Ah, that blocking. Circled in red are DB Ed Paris and WR Kevin Spears. The duo creates a wall to White’s right side, each pushing his man clear out of the way. Spears shoves his man so hard that he topples Paris in the process.
  • LSU uses plenty of reserves on special teams. They’ve done that for years. Talented young players might not see time on their units, but they star on special teams. This is the perfect example of that. Paris and Spears rarely play on their respective units.
  • The black circle is Dwayne Thomas, matched up in man coverage with Syracuse speedster Estime. Estime (red line) runs a post route down the middle of the field, and he just simply beats Thomas, running past him at around the 30-yard line.
  • Jamal Adams is the one high safety, but he bolts into the flat area (yellow line) when he sees a Syracuse player heading that direction (black line). That leaves no safety help deep for Thomas. Normally, you might see an LSU linebacker take the flats, but Adams clearly at least thought his job on this play was to cover the flats. Maybe it was. We don’t really know.
  • Mahoney, a walk-on, had decent success against a talented group of LSU DBs. How? After the game, Adams said Syracuse “threw some formations at us, route combinations that were pretty good. We had to make a lot of adjustments.”
  • A friend asked me recently: Why doesn’t LSU run more of the delay runs? Well, here’s one – it’s just not the kind of delay you’re used to. The delay, though, works perfect. As you’ll see in the below video, Fournette opens himself up to the right, acting as if he’ll head that direction. The three linebackers take two to three steps in. That’s more than enough for Fournette to beat them to the edge.
  • LSU had called three straight rushing plays for Fournette and, on the last one, he lost three yards. Surely OC Cam Cameron wouldn’t call a fourth straight Fournette run on an obvious passing down, right? He sure would. Thing is, this didn’t catch Syracuse by surprise or anything. The Orange had eight in the box.
  • Four players make key blocks to spring Fournette: RG Will Clapp (yellow circle), FB JD Moore (red circle) and C Ethan Pocic (black circle). Each of them pick up a pancake block in taking their men to the ground. There’s a fourth block here, too, when freshman LG Maea Teuhema takes out a Syracuse linebacker (yellow arrow) in an impressive second-level block.
  • The combination of Clapp and Pocic is a strong one. The duo is evolving into LSU’s No. 1 run-blocking pair on the line. The Tigers love to pull them both and run behind them up the gut.
  • Did the O-line play incredible, awesome, excellent? No. It did not, but the line did have some great plays. After all, you don’t have a running back go for 244 without some good blocking. You see a few examples of that above.
  • It’s becoming more and more clear that Will Clapp is LSU’s go-to run-blocking lineman. The Tigers either ran behind him at RG-RT or pulled him as the lead blocker on about roughly half of their designed rushing plays. He had six Booms (a key block to spring a successful run), but he also had three to four Blips (a missed block leading to a negative play).
  • Freshman LG Maea Teuhema had, maybe, the best day of anyone. He went for six Booms as well and just one Blip. C Ethan Pocic had five Booms during another good outing.
  • The line had three Blips during pass protection, which led to either sacks or pressures on Harris. Pocic, Teuhema and Vadal Alexander each had one. More troubling – the penalties. Here’s the rundown:
  1. Jerald Hakwins: false start
  2. Vadal Alexander: false start
  3. Ethan Pocic: holding
  4. Ethan Pocic: snap infraction
  • After such a solid performance last week, TE Colin Jeter struggled against Syracuse. He missed two pass protection blocks and was called for a hold.
  • Jeter and freshman Foster Moreau were LSU’s No. 1 and No. 2 tight ends with Dillon Gordon out with an Achilles injury. Moreau played at least 17 snaps in the Tigers’ 58-play outing.
  • We wrote extensively about Harris’ play here in our follow story to Saturday’s win. LSU opened the passing game up a bit. Harris threw downfield more than he has the first two games, and he dropped back on seven of 21 first downs.
  • ESPN color guy Brock Huard said Harris doesn’t yet have “rhythm and tempo” with his receivers like he needs to. Huard said it’s something that he expects to achieve over the next three to four games as the Tigers prepare for a brutal November stretch. CBS analyst Gary Danielson said something similar during last week’s win over Auburn. We only charted one Misfire for Harris. He missed on a low throw early in the game.
  • Harris made a solid call late in the game, keeping the ball on a zone-read for a 19-yard run. He pulled the ball from Fournette’s belly and hit the sideline, using his speed to turn the corner. And, of course, we can’t forget this play:
  • Leonard Fournette broke seven tackles against Syracuse. That gives him 21 for the last two games. Fournette’s vision continues to get better. On at least three or four of his runs, the RB goes opposite side of where the play is designed, seeing a hole and racing through it.
  • As we wrote in this story, Fournette was indeed hit in the private parts during the fourth quarter. He was not happy about it. It took place during a gang tackle on a 6-yard loss.
  • Derrius Guice saw about five snaps. We saw Guice be a decoy on a play that we’ve seen before. On the play – below – you’ll see that Guice (yellow circle) is split wide, where John Diarse and Trey Quinn are ready to block for him. Harris, instead, hands the ball to Nick Brossette for a nice gain to the right side. Brossette, we think, only saw action on this one play. Could be wrong. Tracking snaps is not easy.
  • Not the best day. LSU receivers had four drops: Diarse (2), Dupre (1), Dural (1). That said, Dural made a great adjustment to an underthrown pass from Harris. He stopped his route, turned around and leaped up for the 51-yard completion on a third-and-9 – a key play in the fourth quarter.
  • Harris targeted no receiver more than Dupre (five times). He had two impressive catches – a 42-yard over-the-shoulder grab and an 11-yard TD catch on a fade pass.
  • One real, big negative? Dupre or Dural failed to line up properly on the line of scrimmage, negating an 87-yard touchdown run from Fournette. The shot is below. It appears that Dural was closer to the line of scrimmage, but it’s unclear which player should have been on the line on this particular play. A team must have at least seven players on the line of scrimmage.
  • The Tigers got a ton of pressure from their front, but SU walk-on QB Zack Mahoney got rid of the ball quickly. It limited sacks, etc. DE Lewis Neal led all of the front seven. He had quite a day, rolling up five Pressures (a hurry in the backfield, specifically on a dropback). DT Davon Godchaux had three Pressures and two Attacks (outstanding defensive play leading to a negative play).
  • Reserve DTs Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore saw more snaps than they have all season – and, probably, all of their careers. We counted each getting 26 snaps in the game. They had less than 15 in each of the first two games. Gilmore showed off one of the reasons he’s getting more time:
  • At defensive end, Deondre Clark played less than five snaps. Sione Tuehema played about 10 snaps.
  • Donnie Alexander saw four snaps on the first drive of the game in LSU’s base defense. He never got in the game on defense again. He looked a bit lost out there on the first series in replacement of Deion Jones, suspended in the first half.
  • The Tigers opened the game in their 4-3 base defense. It was the first time they showed that formation all season. They ran the base during that first drive and, possibly one or two other times during the game, and that’s it. The rest of the time, LSU was in the five-DB nickel set. We never saw the Tigers’ new Mustang look: 3-2-6.
  • Duke Riley replaced Jones in the first half in the Tigers’ nickel set. He and Beckwith played at LB for much of the first half with Jones out.
  • It might not necessarily show in the stats, but MLB Kendell Beckwith and the Tigers’ linebackers are in the right place at the right time for most plays. They seem to find the right gaps and chase the running back to the inside, where it’s been mostly clogged.
  • DE Tashawn Bower injured his left ankle in the first quarter. How? That’s below. An offensive lineman landed on the ankle, basically. Bower returned during the game and actually played at least one series in the second half, but he was clearly not 100 percent.
  • Donte Jackson saw the most snaps of his first three games at LSU. He got about 33 snaps – roughly half of LSU’s defensive plays. He’s splitting time at the nickelback with Dwayne Thomas. Jackson had at least one missed tackle and at least one coverage mistake.
  • Safety Jamal Adams continues to be the leader of the Tigers secondary. He had three Attacks. Rickey Jefferson didn’t have his best game. In fact, Jefferson had about three to four missed tackles. LSU had eight missed tackles overall.
  • Like the offensive line, DBs had a good amount of penalties. Here they are:
  1. Kevin Toliver: pass interference
  2. Rickey Jefferson: pass interference
  3. Dwayne Thomas: personal foul<<<