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)
Fournette for 6 – again: On second-and-5 from the State 18-yard line, LSU RB Leonard Fournette gets his third and final touchdown of the game on a scamper meant to go behind left tackle Jerald Hawkins and pulling guard Maea Teuhema. Instead, Fournette bounces the run to the outside and easily scores.Film Room 2
You see the three arrows? Those are Mississippi State linebackers, and each of the three does the same thing on this play. They crash into the left side of the line, getting caught up in a mass of bodies in the middle-left of the line of scrimmage.
Teuhema pulls on the play, and fullback JD Moore serves as the lead blocker. Both do their jobs. In fact, the two take on about three to four defenders in that mass bunching. Moore, by the way, had a solid first game as the Tigers’ starting fullback. He also had a key block on Fournette’s 26-yard first-quarter TD.
Let’s not just credit the blockers and the missteps from the defenders. Fournette had good enough vision to bounce the play outside, running around that grouping of bodies.
Sack, sack and sack again: LSU sacked Prescott three times and pressured him at least eight times. On third-and-6 from the LSU 32-yard line, defensive end Lewis Neal gets a key sack to force a punt.
Neal can thank his good buddy, teammate Deion Jones, for this sack. Jones (red circle) acts as if he’ll blitz to the right side, at State right tackle Justin Senior. Instead, he wheels around to the other side (red line). His fake, though, is enough to cause Senior to hesitate. Neal races around him (black line) for the sack to force a punt. Film Room 3
There’s another part of this play that you can’t really see here: safety Rickey Jefferson also faked a stunt. Jefferson, in this shot, is standing a few yards behind Neal. Jefferson and Jones both face the blitz to the right side to throw off Senior.
Through one game and one series against McNeese State, we’ve seen a host of things like this from LSU’s defensive front. Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele have the group active and focused on reaching the QB.
Going for two: State’s potential game-tying two-point conversion IMG_5625attempt with four minutes left failed as Prescott’s pass fell into the arms of a falling Ashton Shumpert, but the running back couldn’t handle the throw, which was less than perfect.
State sets the ole illegal pick here. Plenty of teams do it and get away with it. The red circle is State receiver Fred Brown, who picks safety Rickey Jefferson while cornerback Kevin Toliver is on coverage. The two LSU players get caught up with Brown. No flag is thrown, and Prescott’s pass hits the turf. After watching the replay, even if Shumpert would have made the catch, it likely would have been ruled short of the goal line by about a half yard.
The delay and the kick: These two plays don’t need much explanation so we’ve just put them below. The first is State’s delay-of-game penalty, which eventually turned a 47-yard field goal into a 52-yarder (not the play clock during the video). The second is the field goal, which misses to the right.
Big Ugly Blips and Booms (O-line analysis)
LSU had 266 rushing yards. So the offensive line couldn’t have played that bad, right? Well, they didn’t have the greatest game. They played like an O-line with two new starters (Will Clapp and true freshman Maea Teuhema) and two other players in different positions (Vadal Alexander and Jerald Hawkins).
There is a reason RG Josh Boutte did not play in the second half. He struggled during his drives in the first half, something LSU coach Les Miles hinted to after the game, saying Boutte needed more “coaching” and “seasoning.” Boutte’s first step is awfully slow. He had four Blips in the first half. To refresh your memory, a Blip is a missed block that causes a negative play. Here’s an example of what we’re talking about (check out No. 76’s first step):
Teuhema played the entire second half at LG while Will Clapp moved to RG. Teuhema certainly has some promise. That is easily apparent on a handful of plays in which he pulled and led through the hole. He had four Booms (memory refresher: a Boom is a key block that springs a positive rushing play), but he had three Blips – many of them coming in the final quarter and a half.
Teuhema wasn’t the only one who struggled in the second half. LSU’s line missed a ton of assignments, blocks, whatever you want to call it over the last two quarters. About two-thirds of the line’s Blips came in the second half. It was a big reason the Tigers offense hit a wall in the final two quarters.
LT Jerald Hawkins, to no surprise, had the most Booms of any linemen at five, but he did have three Blips. Vadal Alexander had some issues at RT, with four Blips. Ethan Pocic and Clapp combined on a few drives for some plus plays, both pulling and leading to the left side.
Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)
We’ll be quick here. Brandon Harris made a couple of very good throws, a couple of meh throws but didn’t have any glaring mistakes. His best throw came on the second series of the game and helped set up the Tigers’ first touchdown. It landed in TE DeSean Smith’s hands.
What Harris really showed was good mobility. He tucked and ran on two called passes, turning both into good gains. He also utilized the read-option, keeping the ball three to four times, including the one below. Harris eyes State’s defensive end. He moves down and the QB pulls the ball from Fournette’s gut for a 15-plus yard run.
Backing It Up (RB/FB analysis)
As we mentioned before, the offensive line didn’t play extraordinary, and I’m sure O-line coach Jeff Grimes will have a field day in the literal film room. Leonard Fournette was brilliant. He made so many plays on his own, when no hole was there, when defenders were launching into the backfield. Take, for instance, this:
One of Fournette’s most incredible plays? Keeping his knee from hitting the ground on that 26-yard touchdown run. Check it out:
Darrel Williams played his role – a guy who can spell Fournette and produce yards. Williams is beginning to prove that he’s not just a between-the-tackles runner. He has some shake to him, quick feet and good moves.
FB JD Moore, in his first game as LSU’s starter, had five Booms and just one Blip. A good ratio. He had the key block in springing Fournette for that 26-yard touchdown run and helped him get in on that 18-yarder, too. Of note: LSU ran without a fullback on more than half of its 61 plays.
Five-yard Out (WR analysis)
Malachi Dupre made a great catch on LSU’s third drive, setting up Fournette for that 26-yard touchdown. No receiver dropped a pass. LSU only threw 14, of course. As for blocking, John Diarse and Travin Dural each had Blips. But Dural had a Boom, too. It helped spring Brandon Harris for a big gain on the read-option.
One thing of concern: LSU attempted at least three quick-out screens to receivers. None of them worked because of blocking issues.
Dupre and Dural were both targeted four times.
Here’s a somewhat surprising note: DJ Chark did not play, and Trey Quinn did not play on offense. Quinn was a starter for much of last season, and coaches raved about the speedy Chark during spring practice. When LSU moved into a four-receiver set, DeSean Smith aligned as the fourth wideout, often aligning in the slot. The Tigers did go five wide once, but with just three receivers – Diarse, Dupre and Dural. The top two wide guys on this play are Smith and Fournette. Harris ran a QB draw for no gain on the play.
Front Seven (D-line/LB analysis)
Let’s start this with true freshman DE Arden Key. The kid was everywhere. Key and Davon Godchaux were the most impressive of any of the Tigers’ defensive linemen. Key had eight QB Pressures. Everyone else had 10, with three of those belonging to Godchaux.
Key and Godchaux were quite the tandem, and they caused havoc for much of the first three quarters of the game. Check out this video below. The two are involved in a D-line twist: Godchaux heads toward the tackle and Key toward the guard on the inside. LSU did this some in the McNeese State “game” as well. We can only assume it’s an Ed Orgeron staple.
As was expected, there are depth issues on the defensive line. And it showed in the second half. Coaches put in Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore in two series late in the game. State scored touchdowns on both of those series, and LaCouture and Godchaux replaced Herron and Gilmore late on each of those drives – when State had reached near the red zone. We counted Gilmore and Herron as playing in 14 plays each. That left LaCouture and Godchaux playing 66 plays.
At end, LSU split snaps between Key, Lewis Neal and Tashawn Bower about equal. Sione Teuhema played one or two plays. That’s it. Deondre Clark did not play.
More interesting depth notes: Linebackers Lamar Louis and Duke Riley were in the game for a total of three plays – one series. Louis came in to spell Beckwith, and Riley entered to replace Jones. There was a ton of talk during the preseason about LSU running a 3-4. Well, the Tigers didn’t even play three linebackers – let alone four of them. Beckwith and Jones played in 77 plays in a 4-2-5 – the Tigers new base defense. They played none of the 4-3.
When LSU wasn’t in a 4-2-5, the Tigers were in a 3-2-6 during passing downs. They ran that about 15 times, including during State’s final two drives, when the Bulldogs were zipping down the field. In the 3-2-6, LaCouture played nose tackle and Godchaux and Key were the ends. Sometimes Bower and Neal played at end, too. Often time in this 3-2-6 set, Beckwith came down as a stand-up end and rushed. Here’s a shot of LSU’s 3-2-6:
Break It Up (DB analysis)
Freshman CB Kevin Toliver was like glue to the Bulldogs receivers. He nearly had a pick, had at least two pass deflections and only once had any kind of bust. And it’s unclear if that bust was his fault. Ed Paris did not play on defense. Toliver played all 80 plays, along with Tre White and most of the other defensive backs.
Donte Jackson was inserted for three plays on defense, replacing Dwayne Thomas as LSU’s nickelback. Thomas was yanked after he was called for defensive holding. In LSU’s 3-2-6 passing set, Corey Thompson entered as the safety, and Adams moved down to the dimeback role.