Film Room: Too soon? If you're up for it, here's a detailed look at how Alabama was able to impose its will on LSU _lowres

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) finds running tough against Alabama.

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

How They Happened (big-play analysis)

The ‘combo block’: On first-and-10 from the LSU 42, Alabama RB Derrick Henry ripped off a 40-yard run to set up his 2-yard touchdown run and a 10-0 Bama lead early in the second quarter.

  • The Tide orchestrates two beautiful “combo blocks” on both of LSU’s linebackers and defensive tackles, says CBS color analyst Gary Danielson. Bama’s center and left guard combo (right red circle) on DT Christian LaCouture. Bama’s right guard and right tackle (left red circle) combo on DT Davon Godchaux.
  • The second part of the combo blocks are the most important. After blocking the defensive tackles while in combo for about 1.5 seconds, the right tackle shifts to block Jones out of the play. The left guard does the same to Beckwith.
  • The third key block of this play is Bama taking advantage of an aggressive backfield move by DE Tashawn Bower (black line), who darts between the TE-RT gap. The TE continues to shove him to the backside of the play, allowing a clear hole for Henry (red line). Bama ran to the right side of LSU (behind RG-RT) on the majority of its rushes.
  • The first thing to note, of course, is that Alabama brought CB Cyrus Jones (yellow circle) on a blitz at the snap. That left Dural on one-on-one coverage with safety Geno Smith (black circle). That’s what many would call a mismatch. Dural (red line) beats Smith, racing down the field on a skinny post route. He makes his break toward the middle of the field at about the 20-yard line, just as Harris releases the pass.
  • Here’s the thing: Bama’s corner blitz nearly works. Jones comes untouched after TE Colin Jeters heads out for a route. Jeter runs right past the blitzing Jones. He nails Harris just as he releases the football.
  • Harris’ final numbers (6-for-19) were not good, but many of those came under intense pressure, like this. He stands in the pocket on this play and delivers a perfect pass.
  • This was the theme of the night. The Crimson Tide stacked the box and won the line of scrimmage. Here, Alabama moves LSU’s offensive line to what amounts to 4-5 yards back of the original line of scrimmage (circled is C Ethan Pocic).
  • The group had trouble all game in creating space for Fournette. Of 19 attempts, Fournette was hit 13 times in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage. Outside of one carry, Fournette never made it past 2 yards without getting his first contact.
  • It was a disaster for this group. Just a nightmare of a game. As you probably already know, RB Leonard Fournette had 31 yards rushing – 160 below his average. The line just couldn’t create space for him, as proven through the below numbers.
  • Behind line: 6 times
  • At line: 7
  • 1 yard: 3
  • 2 yards: 2
  • 3 or more: 1
  • The line didn’t only struggle in run blocking. The Tigers had eight pass-protection Blips: four on Vadal Alexander, two on Jerald Hakwins, one each on TE Colin Jeter and C Ethan Pocic/Will Clapp. Clapp and Pocic’s Blip came together on a combo block of one defender. It was that kind of night.
  • We charted just two – TWO – real Booms on Saturday. Booms are key blocks that spring a successful run (usually 5 or more yards). Pocic and Jeter had one each on a day when Fournette had one run longer than five yards. There were plenty of running Blips to go around. At least one member of the line had one and most of them had two. Just an all-around struggle.
  • Here’s a positive for the O-line: Jerald Hawkins can make one-handed catches. The below play resulted in a penalty, of course. Hawkins is an ineligible receiver since, you know, he’s a left tackle. But he shows off his receiving skills, something that makes coach Les Miles, a former O-lineman, crack a smile.
  • Speaking of Hawkins … outside of that one-handed catch, the junior had one of his worst games. We mentioned the pass protection above. One of those Blips is below. LSU moves Hawkins from the left side to the right, replacing him with TE DeSean Smith in an unbalanced line set. Why did LSU do this? We don’t know, but it didn’t work out. Hawkins allows a sack.
  • Harris was pressured on about one-third of his dropbacks (6-7 times in ~22 dropbacks). Despite that, we only charted Harris for two Misfires and one of those came with a man directly in his face.
  • LSU ran a couple of busted plays, possibly because of checks or calls not made or made incorrectly by Harris. We’ll never really know if that’s true since A) he’s been banned from speaking to reporters for the immediate future and B) assistant coaches are not available to speak with reporters. Take, for instance, the play below. Disregard the players-in-the-box information and watch C Ethan Pocic and LG Mae Teuhema pull left. Fournette, on a zone-read play, goes right and Harris goes up the center. Something went wrong pre-snap as Harris shifted Fournette from his right to his left.
  • Let’s get to Harris’ first interception of the season – a game-changing play in the big game. Harris’ pick came on the first play of the second half. Bama scored a few plays later to make it 20-10.
  • This is a designed rollout to the right, where Harris’ receiver options are TE Foster Moreau (what?) and WR Trey Quinn (that’s rare). Quinn is well covered. Moreau is decently open, but he looks back at Harris after the ball is out of the QB’s hand. It appears that the pass is meant for Quinn. It’s thrown slightly behind and short of Quinn, and Bama DE Dillon Lee, covering Moreau, makes the pick.
  • Tough day. Not much room and when lanes opened (it was rare), Fournette took different paths – paths in which he was swallowed by the Tide. One of those examples – there are not many – is below.
  • Here, Fournette forces an inside run between RT Vadal Alexander and RG Will Clapp (black arrow). He gains a yard. The outside was somewhat open, but, more so, the Tigers had created a lane to the left side. Vision and cutbacks have been a strength for the running back this season. There were at least a couple of times during the game where he struggled in that department.
  • Fournette entered the game against Alabama having broken 60 tackles over the previous six games – a 10 per-game average. He had two broken tackles against the Tide and both came on one play. His counterpart, Derrick Henry, broke 11 tackles, including five on the final, 13-play drive.
  • Much of the talk after the game centered around Alabama loading the box. That wasn’t really the case, as shown below.
  • 9 men: 1 play
  • 8: 5
  • 7: 6
  • 6: 5
  • Bama had at least seven defenders in box each time LSU was in I-formation on Fournette’s carries, matching LSU’s seven blockers when the Tigers had one TE. They out-manned LSU only a couple of times. When the Tigers shifted to more shotgun or one-back, the Tide countered, putting six in the box to, usually, match LSU’s six blockers. The Tide had at least seven men in the box on Fournette’s first 10 runs of the game. UA often brought down DB Eddie Jackson late, like this:
  • We did not chart freshman FB Bry’Kiethon Mouton’s snaps, but it wasn’t a crazy number. The Tigers went mostly shotgun or one-back in the final three quarters. JD Moore played in just two, we think, series of the game before re-injuring the knee ligament sprain he suffered against South Carolina. Here’s that injury.
  • We wrote down one thing about the receivers in our Film Room notebook: “Dural great catch.” Travin Dural had, arguably, the offense’s best play with his jump-ball grab – a 37-yarder that helped bail LSU out of its own end zone.
  • Bama seemed to focus its rushing attack on LSU’s left side – usually at DE Lewis Neal, arguably the Tigers’ best pass-rusher, and DT Christian LaCouture. Six of Derrick Henry’s carries of more than 5 yards (he had 11 of them) came to LSU’s left side (so, behind Bama’s RG-RT). Five of those came running at LaCouture.
  • Here’s the thing about the front: They got pressure. LSU had six to seven Pressures against Jake Coker. But they struggled at times to defend the run, and, as the game wore on, that got much, much worse. That was expected to some degree. Remember when we wrote about the lack of depth on LSU’s front seven playing apart in this game? Here that is. It’s worth noting that DE Sione Teuhema did not dress out for the game. He’s thought of as LSU’s No. 4 defensive end. His replacement, Deondre Clark, did not play.
  • LB Kendell Beckwith, especially late in the game, found himself 5 to 10 to 15 yards blocked downfield, and LB Deion Jones, at least on a few plays, overran the play. Here’s an example of one of those plays where the Tide feasted on Beckwith and Jones and ran, as we mentioned above, to LSU’s left side, at Neal:
  • Henry, as mentioned above, broke 11 tackles – two each by Beckwith and Jones. It was a rough day for the backers, reminiscent of the troubles early during last season.
  • Let’s get to the news: It’s pretty clear that safety Rickey Jefferson has lost his starting job to Corey Thompson, now fully healthy after a knee injury that forced him to miss last year. Jefferson has been responsible for a few coverage busts this season. He played in just one – one – drive in the game against Bama. He missed a tackle during that drive (about three to four plays) and was pulled mid-drive for Thompson.
  • Here’s LSU’s secondary units.
  • S Jamal Adams
  • S Jalen Mills
  • CB Tre White
  • CB Dwayne Thomas/Kevin Toliver (rotation)
  • S Adams
  • S Corey Thompson
  • NB Mills/Donte Jackson (rare rotation)
  • CB White
  • CB Thomas/Toliver (rotation)
  • S John Battle
  • S Thompson
  • NB Mills/Jackson (rare rotation)
  • DB Adams
  • CB White
  • CB Thomas/Toliver
  • We did not see Ed Paris play defense. He could have got in for a play or two or even for a drive, but we did notice it. This is after Paris played more than 30 snaps against Western Kentucky two weeks ago because of injuries to Mills and White. He’s a clear reserve.