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)
Goal line stand: On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Alabama QB Jalen Hurts keeps the ball on a zone-read play and is dropped for a 5-yard loss.
- First off, as CBS color analyst Gary Danielson points out, Alabama went hurry-up on a significant play. The Tide rushed this fourth-down attempt, and the Tigers - specifically LB Kendell Beckwith - guessed the snap count. You see Beckwith (red circle) come on a run blitz, blasting into the guard to stuff the center of the line as the ball is snapped. That's the first thing that makes this defensive play work.
- Three players to Beckwith's right (from left: Jamal Adams, Tashawn Bower and Davon Godchaux) all crash down and penetrate the backfield, disrupting a potential middle run. This forces Hurts to keep the ball around left end, where a first-year starting LSU linebacker makes a solid play.
- Duke Riley (black circle) scrapes along the line as he's taught to do, reading Hurts' movement in the backfield. Adams slows Hurts with his penetration into the backfield, and Riley is there on the end to drop him for a loss. This was the third consecutive tackle made by Riley, as he continues to shine in his role as LSU's Rover linebacker.
Lone TD: On third-and-9, QB Jalen Hurts runs for 21 yards for the game's only touchdown, scoring with 13 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
- In his postgame news conference, interim coach Ed Orgeron was told that fans were upset with several officiating calls. He was asked if he was upset with any. "I was upset, too," he said curtly. This is a play that the coach will likely send in to the Southeastern Conference office. Why? We explain below.
- It's tough to find one play in any football game that's completely devoid of holding. It's nearly impossible. However, officials ignore many of those that either do not impact the play or aren't significant enough. On Hurts' touchdown, you can see here that Arden Key (red), Tashawn Bower (yellow) and Lewis Neal (blue) are being, at least briefly, held.
- You can argue that the holds on Key and Bower are insignificant to the play, but Neal, who has outside containment on Hurts, is integral to the play and is within reach of Hurts while his right shoulder is tugged.
Delay: On a third-and-3 from the Bama 35-yard line, LSU is called for a delay of game and then QB Danny Etling, on third-and-8, is flagged for intentional grounding late in the third quarter of a scoreless game. The Tigers were forced to punt.
- This is a disaster scenario and a perfect example of LSU's offense squandering opportunities presented to it by a swarming defense. LSU DE Frank Herron stripped Bama QB Jalen Hurts to force the second turnover of the game and hand the Tigers offense the ball at the UA 43-yard line. What happens next is a nightmare for Ed Orgeron and LSU.
- The shot you see above is LSU's offense breaking the huddle for that third-and-3 play. Check out the bottom right of the screen. There are 4 seconds on the play clock. What you don't see is that QB Danny Etling received the play call from the sideline with about 10 seconds left on the play clock. He frantically gestured toward the sideline for the play call.
- Meanwhile, Orgeron is on the sideline standing next to the line judge. The coach signaled for a timeout, but it was too late. Also, if he were to have taken a timeout there, the Tigers would have been left with none for the rest of the 25 minutes that were left in the game.
Big Ugly Blips And Booms (OL analysis)
- There's a lot to get to here. Just like last year's game against the Tide, LSU's offensive line struggled to block Alabama's defensive front in both the run-blocking and pass-blocking aspects.
- It was obvious early on that LSU would struggle with protecting Etling, something interim coach Ed Orgeron admitted this week was the "key" to the game.
Let's get to some numbers that really show those struggles:
- Etling dropbacks: 29
- Etling pressures: 14
- And now for the run-blocking issues. We focused strictly on Leonard Fournette here. Fournette ran for 35 yards on 17 carries, but he was hit behind or at the line of scrimmage on 10 of those carries, a similar result to his outing at Bama last year (more on that later).
Bama's first contact on Fournette:
- Behind the line: 3 times
- At the line: 7
- 1 yard: 3
- 2 yards: 3
- 3 or more: 1
- LSU's line continued what's been an issue all season - cohesion. The Tigers juggled players at both tackle position, because of injury and performance. Maea Teuhema started at RT, and K.J. Malone started at LT. Coaches replaced Teuhema with Toby Weathersby at some point in the second quarter. But Teuhema returned to the game at LT in replacement for Malone, who missed about two to three series with what LSU's radio broadcast called a biceps injury. LSU finished the game with Malone at LT, and Weathersby at RT - no Teuhema, an obvious sign about his performance.
- Something became very obvious early in the game: Teuhema and TE Colin Jeter were having issues blocking the edge rushers, whether it was LB Ryan Anderson or DL Jonathan Allen. There was some obvious miscommunication and missed blocks, but, because we do not know protection calls, it's tough to say who was at fault. That said, Teuhema, Weathersby and Jeter lost the most "one on one" battles at the line, as Orgeron called them after the game.
- We captured the six first-half pressures on Etling in his 16 dropbacks. It's not pretty.
Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)
- Entering the game, one of the big questions was QB Danny Etling's ability on third downs. LSU and Etling struggled on those downs
- The Tigers converted 4 of 15 third downs, and we charted all 11 of their failed attempts:
Why did it happen?
Etling sack for loss of 2 yards
Malone and Jeter missed blocks
Etling sack for loss of 1 yard
This sack appears to be on Etling and not his line
Etling incomplete screen pass to Fournette
Etling threw slightly behind him, but the screen never had a shot because of blocking (Etling felt pressure after a man beat Clapp)
Etling completed a 2-yard pass to Chark
This is a crossing route, and Bama had a man on tight coverage who immediately made the tackle
Etling incomplete pass to Dupre
Etling throws well behind an open Dupre, who would have picked up the first down
Etling completed a 3-yard pass to Dural
This is another crossing route that LSU’s receiver catches but Bama’s defender make an immediate tackle
Etling incomplete to Dural
This was Etling’s worst pass of the game, a one-hopping 10-yard attempt to an open Dural at the first down stick
Etling completed to Fournette for an 8-yard gain
This is a dump-off to Fournette and is the same play in which the umpire accidently impedes him
Etling incomplete to Dural
After a timeout, LSU coaches elect to throw deep when the need 3, and Etling overthrows a covered Dural
Etling sacked for a loss of 11 yards
This came after a delay-of-game before third-and-3. Maea Teuhema, playing LT, was beat on the edge to force Etling from the pocket
Etling incomplete to DeSean Smith
Etling threw it low of Smith
- So, Etling was sacked on three of those third down tries, and he completed 3 of 8 attempts, with all three completions thrown behind the line to gain.
- Etling missed several easy throws, according to Danielson. At one point, Danielson asks rhetorically, "Can Danny Etling make the simple throw?" Etling didn't have the same pocket poise as we've seen in the past, mostly because of the offensive line's inability to protect him, but Etling missed at least one opportunity to get rid of the ball before one of those five sacks. He was also late on a long incompletion to Chark, Danielson said. Chark's foot was barely out of bounds on a second-quarter attempt. The play was significant as the Tigers went from a first down inside the Bama 15 to, eventually, a third down they did not convert.
- Here's a compiled video of a few of Etling's incomplete passes:
Back It Up (RB analysis)
- We already mentioned Bama's first contact of Fournette. When you compare those numbers to Fournette's rushes against Alabama last season, you arrive at a truly startling result. Check it out:
Bama's first contact on Fournette in last two meetings (34 carries)
- Behind the line: 9 times
- At line: 14
- 1 yard: 6
- 2 yards: 5
- 3 or more: 2
- You've read that correctly. On just two of 34 carries did Fournette reach 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage without being touched. And on 23 of the 34, the running back was contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage.
- A news nugget here: Despite the off week, Fournette is still suffering from that lingering left ankle bone bruise/sprain. Danielson said that the running back told CBS' broadcasting crew before the game that he was not fully healthy and he didn't expect to be fully healthy until after the season.
- Fournette, we do not think, ever reached Alabama's third level of defense. He was closest on this play:
- LSU attempted to get Fournette into space, splitting him out wide on at least four occasions. Fournette started the play lined up in the backfield and then motioned outside, leaving an empty backfield.
- Fournette dodged more than Bama tacklers Saturday...
Backer Bites (LB analysis)
- Duke Riley had, arguably, the best game of his LSU career. And Danielson wouldn't argue with that. "Duke Riley is having the game of his life," he said at one point. LSU's priority was clear from the start: smother, swarm, stuff freshman dual-threat QB Jalen Hurts. Riley scrapped down the line, as he's taught, on countless plays, gunning through a gap to tackle Hurts. Check out these two (the first begins with a Kendell Beckwith play):
- It wasn't just Riley, of course. Beckwith performed at a high level and so, even, did Devin White, the burly rookie who backs up Riley. White played at least two series in the game, making this play near the goal line:
- Get this: Both Riley and Beckwith made touchdown-saving tackles at the 1-yard line in the second half, single-handedly keeping LSU around.
Break It Up (DB analysis)
- Dwayne Thomas swarmed and swatted. The senior defensive back who claimed last week that LSU would "dominate" Alabama played what many would describe as the best game of his career. He can, partially, thank defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who chose Thomas to be his star in this game. Aranda blitzed Thomas 11 times in 30 defensive snaps in the first half, a game plan that worked to perfection most of the time. Thomas played the nickel position throughout the game, as Tre White slid outside to cornerback opposite Donte Jackson (Kevin Toliver did not play a defensive snap, we don't think; He was suspended for the first half of the game against Southern Miss, and he appears to be in the doghouse).
- Let's check out how Aranda blitzed Thomas from his nickel position. First, though, you should know that former DC John Chavis used to do this with Thomas in his Mustang package. You see the red circle? That's Thomas. He'll rush into the backfield at the snap, and safety Jamal Adams (yellow) will take his man, leaving John Battle (black) as the one-high safety.
Photos and video courtesy of CBS.