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)
Those tricky Tigers: On first-and-10 from the LSU 42-yard line, QB Brandon Harris pitched to Leonard Fournette, who then pitched back to Harris who then threw a 52-yard pass to Malachi Dupre. Flea flicker.
This play really works for a few reasons. The first is, once again, the Leonard Fournette Effect. The Heisman Trophy hopeful, even without carrying the ball, dramatically affects the game. LSU uses him as a decoy often. The Tigers do it again here, pitching to him to fake the inside toss. What’s this do? Florida safety Keanu Neal (yellow circle) bites on the Fournette run. He takes two full strides in, completely removing him from coverage. It’s Malachi Dupre vs. UF WR Vernon Hargreaves now.Reason No. 2: Dupre also sells the fake. He’s circled in red on his play and his route is the red line. Do you see how the line curves into the center of the field early on? That’s Dupre faking on a block. It gives him just enough separation from Hargreaves.And, finally, to Harris. He makes a perfect throw. Dupre hardly has to stop on the route. The ball is just placed absolutely perfect – one of many spot-on throws from Harris in this game.Those tricky Tigers, Part 2: On fourth-and-13 from the LSU 16-yard line, coach Les Miles fools the world, running a fake field goal. Third-string QB Brad Kragthorpe, the holder, laterals to kicker Trent Domingue.
Miles and players say the team practiced this play for a “few weeks.” Miles said coaches recognized something in Florida’s field goal defense. What was it? Probably the fact the last three men on the right side of Florida’s line (your left) crashed into the backfield (black arrows).The shot above is snapped just as Kragthorpe gets the snap. Domingue is making his move to the left, and Florida has no safe man hanging back to the left side of the field, as it does on the right side (yellow arrows). That’s probably something else LSU coaches noticed during scouting.Darrel Williams and Colin Jeter (red circles) are perfectly content to allow the three Florida players to crash into the backfield. They sprint out to act as lead blockers for Domingue. They both actually make a key block near the goal line to assure that Domingue gets in.Mustang time: On fourth-and-10 from its own 38-yard line, Florida went for it. The result was a deflected Treon Harris pass across the middle for a turnover on downs with 3 minutes left in the game.
The play is the final play of Florida’s second-to-last drive. The drive consisted of four passes – each of them incompletions from Harris against LSU’s six-defensive back Dime defense. In other words, the Mustang (or a variance of it, at least). Jalen Mills played about 15 defensive snaps in the game, getting in on two early drives and then not seeing the field again until this drive. The Tigers inserted him as the sixth defensive back. The DBs on the drive: safeties Rickey Jefferson and John Battle, CBs Kevin Toliver and Tre’Davious White, dimeback Jamal Adams (he aligns in a linebacker’s position and Mills at the nickel spot. The D-linemen on the drive are the Tigers’ best pass-rushers: Davon Godchaux, Lewis Neal, Arden Key.On this play, LB Deion Jones turns his hips from outside to inside as UF WR Antonio Callaway makes his break on the route. He bats the ball away to end the Gators’ last real threat.Back to the house: With 1:04 left in the third quarter, Antonio Callaway returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.
Before we get into the issue here, know that coach Les Miles, after the game, seemed to place the blame on this play on his punter, Jamie Keehn. The coach made it sound like LSU had called a directional punt, and Keehn kicked it in the wrong direction. “Hits the one down the middle. It’s difficult for anybody to cover,” Miles said. He later added, “We need direction from our punter.”There were other problems, of course. First off, the black square is Deion Jones. Jones is in position to make the play, but he’s shoved, with one hand, to the back – an illegal block that’s not called.You see the four yellow circles and the orange circle? Well, all five of these players are somewhat in position to make a play, but they’re either blocked out of the play or they overrun the play. The orange circle is safety Jamal Adams. He overruns things and so does Duke Riley (the top left yellow circle). The three middle circles running down the center of the field are Kendell Beckwith, Reid Ferguson and K.J. Malone. They all get blocked out of the play. Lamar Louis comes into the play late. He runs into Beckwith and the guy blocking him. Video:Big Ugly Blips and Booms (O-line analysis)
Vadal Alexander seemed to have the best day of any lineman. He had four to five Booms (blocks that lead to a successful run play). LSU ran behind him quite a bit – a trend this season. The Tigers really like to run behind RG Will Clapp and Alexander. Clapp had three Booms.The pass protection from the line was, maybe, the best of the season so far. The Tigers had just one pass protection miscue – from freshman RG Toby Weathersby, who has surpassed Josh Boutte on the depth chart apparently. When Maea Teuhema was hurt, Weathersby entered. He played in three series, getting about 10-12 offensive snaps in his first real playing time on offense (he’s been on the FG/XP unit).LSU is going to miss Dillon Gordon. He had two Booms before his injury during LSU’s second series. He was spotted on crutches and in a walking boot on the sideline. That likely means he won’t be back for a few weeks – if at all.Below, you’ll see LSU’s Jumbo goal line package with Leonard Fournette in the Wildcat. It includes an extra offensive lineman (Weathersby playing left end) and three tight ends (DeSean Smith, Foster Moreau, Colin Jeter). Of note: If Gordon were healthy, he’d be on this team instead of Smith.Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)
Brandon Harris had the best game of his LSU career – and it’s not even close. He really threaded the needle. We charted him for one Misfire (an errant pass). He threw wide of an open Travin Dural while being pressured. His favorite target was Dural, who he threw to eight times, including a string of five straight targets.Harris made a handful of nice throws. You’ve already read about the flea flicker throw – put right on the money. Below, we’ve got three more of Harris’ best passes. First, the corner route to Dupre, then a side-arm dart on a screen pass to Fournette and, finally, that scrambling 50-yard touchdown.Backing It Up (RB/FB analysis)
On Fournette: His typical self. I’d estimate more than one-third of his yards came after contact. He broke 11 tackles, giving him 46 broken tackles in the last five games (excludes Mississippi State game).The crazy thing about Fournette: For the first time in a month, he failed to have a run of more than 50 yards. And he still finished Saturday with 180 yards. How? He turns the 1 and 2-yard runs into 5 and 6-yard runs. Here’s an example.With FB JD Moore out, you’d figure LSU’s offensive attack would include more shotgun and one-back sets – fullback-less formations. Well, not really. LSU really did trust Bry’Kiethon Mouton, Moore’s replacement. LSU ran about 37 of its 60 plays with a fullback. Mouton had a couple of Booms, but also had at least one Blip (a missed assignment that led to a negative rushing play). The difference between him and Moore is quite obvious.Going back to Leonard: According to the ESPN broadcast, 77 percent of Fournette’s carries come out of the I-formation. Also, Fournette told ESPN reporters earlier in the week about his the speech he read on air after the win over South Carolina. Fournette said he typed up the speech on his computer. An equipment staffer laminated it, and Fournette kept the speech tucked inside his shoulder pad.This is fun. Fournette, Nick Brossette and Derrius Guice – three running backs – all in on one play. Fournette, red arrow, takes a handoff from Harris on this one.Five-yard Out (WR analysis)
Receivers had one drop: Dural. He made up for it and then some, catching five passes on eight targets. Harris targeted Dupre five or six times, and he caught four of them, making a great move on that scrambling 50-yard TD and running a perfect route on the flea flicker.Let’s go back to Dural. LSU loves to run him on the below crossing routes. He seems open each time.Front Seven (D-line/LB analysis)
Lewis Neal had six – six – Pressures. He had three sacks, too. He was relentless at times and wasn’t alone. Check out Tashawn Bower’s spin move and tackle for loss below.There were bad things, like Florida TE Jake McGee’s 19-yard touchdown reception from Treon Harris. McGee got wide open on a wheel route. Who’s to blame for the coverage bust? It’s unclear, but Arden Key appears to drop into coverage in the flats. McGee runs right by him.Let’s get to some Xs and Os stuff. Because that’s why you’re here anyway right? Check out LSU’s goal line defense, which the Tigers also use for things like this play – third-and-short. The group includes an extra defensive lineman (Frank Herron) and four linebackers.Many of LSU’s defensive backs, like Tre White, Jamal Adams and Rickey Jefferson, play every snap. That’s nothing new. But, in this game, LBs Kendell Beckwith and Deion Jones and DE Lewis Neal played every defensive snaps, I believe. They never came off the field. LSU played the nickel on about 45 of its 63 defensive snaps, showing 4-3 or goal line a half-dozen times and the Dime on about 8-10 plays.Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore had been averaging about 12-15 snaps a game. They each got about half of that Saturday, entering on three or four drives. On at least one of those, they were replaced by starters Christian LaCouture and Davon Godchaux.Break It Up (DB analysis)
It was a rough day for this group. There were three very obvious coverage busts and a couple more plays in which a DB did not stay with his man. It’s tough sometimes to determine who’s at fault for the busts, but Rickey Jefferson was involved in one of them and had poor coverage on another. Jamal Adams was responsible, it seemed, for another.Tre’ Davious White or Adams was in the mix for another bust – a 30-yarder to TE DAndre Goolsby that set up a touchdown. White and Adams take WR Demarcus Robinson. No one takes Goolsby and his wheel route.Dwayne Thomas was target more than any other DB – five times. The Gators threw to Jamal Adams’ man four times and Toliver’s guy three times. Mills, as reported above in Big Play Breakdowns, played about 12-15 snaps in the nickel position