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)
The Leonard Fournette Effect: On first-and-goal from the SC 4-yard line, Darrel Williams scores a first-quarter touchdown on a run up the middle.
- Even when he doesn’t touch the ball, LSU RB Leonard Fournette is a force. On this particular play, he acts as a decoy. We’ve seen multiple examples of this already this year – the Tigers using Fournette as a decoy in a few creative run plays.
- You see the yellow arrow? That’s Fournette, lined up at end. Just before the snap, Fournette runs in motion behind Williams (red circle). QB Brandon Harris has the option to flip the ball to Fournette for an outside running play to the right. Instead, Harris hands off to Williams, who rumbles up the middle for the 4-yard score.
- How did Fournette help on this play? Defenders know where he is on the field at all times, especially linebackers. On this play, SC’s three linebackers all take two to three steps to the direction of Fournette’s motion (black arrows). That’s just enough to create room for Williams. The Tigers got good push from the offensive line, but linebackers were late to the play because of the Fournette Effect.
- The simple explanation is provided by ESPN color analyst Rod Gilmore: “Lane integrity gets lost. They lose their lane integrity.” Each man has a lane in which he must remain in as he’s running down field. LSU players seem to lose that. For example, Derrius Guice (red arrow) appears to overrun the kickoff.
- There are nine LSU players on the top two-thirds of the field. That leaves two players on the bottom third: Donte Jackson (black No. 1) and Trey Quinn (black No. 2). That’s a problem. SC players (circled in yellow) create a wall (red line), blocking off the nine Tigers players on the top two-third of the field.
- Jackson and Quinn are blocked out of the play on one-on-one matchups on the outside (yellow lines), creating the big lane for Fenton. Now, there’s a twist here: Did LSU mean to kick the ball toward the left side (top) of the field more? That would explain so many players being on the top two-thirds of the field. Cameron Gamble’s kickoff is driven exactly down the center.
- This one makes an old offensive lineman like Les Miles happy. LT Jerald Hawkins (yellow), RG Will Clapp (red) and TE Colin Jeter (green) make this play happen by winning each of their one-on-one blocking assignments. It’s just how Miles and OC Cam Cameron drew it up.
- Clapp and Jeter are pulling from the right side to the left. This is a play LSU runs quite a bit. And by quite a bit we mean all of the time. The Tigers love to pull Clapp, just a redshirt freshman. He’s developed into LSU’s No. 1 run-blocker. Jeter had a rough game against South Carolina, whiffing on at least four blocks that resulted in an unsuccesful run, but he gets his man here.
- You see the red arrow? That’s South Carolina redshirt junior safety Jordan Diggs. Fournette rips through the hole created by the three blockers and then jukes Diggs to spring for the TD.
*We do not chart things during blowout situations, so all of these below are from film review during the first three quarters, before the Tigers took a 21-point lead early in the fourth.
Big Ugly Blips and Booms (O-line analysis)
- Will Clapp had another great game. At one point, Clapp had a Boom (key block that results in a successful run) on three straight plays early in the game. He had about six Booms on the day and continues to thrive as LSU’s go-to run-blocker. RT Vadal Alexander did well against South Carolina with four Booms.
- Pass protection wasn’t great, but it wasn’t as bad as it looked during the game. Jerald Hawkins and Maea Teuhema each had a Blip on pass pro. Teuhema’s Blip resulted in a near fumble when he was too slow to get to his man. Jerald Hawkins got beat on the edge.
- Hawkins was injured on the second-to-last series of the second half, but he returned for the next series. He got his left ankle trapped behind him.
- Teuhema didn’t have the best of days. He had that missed block on pass pro, and he had another Blip or two during run plays. He also picked up a false start and was yanked on the ensuing series for Josh Boutte. Boutte entered at RG, and Clapp moved to LG. Boutte, pulled from the starting lineup during the first game of the season, actually had two Booms late in the third quarter on running plays for Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams.
- It is becoming more and more obvious that LSU is very much missing TE Dillon Gordon on outside blocks. The 310-pounder, injured against Auburn, has missed the last three games with an Achilles injury. Colin Jeter has struggled the last three weeks in the blocking department. In the first three quarters, Jeter had four Blips – likely a season-high for any player. He had two Booms as well, but Gordon is 40-plus pounds heavier, serving as a big third tackle most of the time.
- Harris, as you probably know, had career-highs for completions, attempts and yards. Of his 10 incomplete passes, three were on him (Misfires, as we like to call them). He missed passes to Leonard Fournette, Malachi Dupre and DeSean Smith.
- Receivers had two drops (Dupre and Dural) and Fournette also had a drop. That’s eight drops in two games. Many of Harris’ aren’t perfect, and they come in hot – and I mean hot. He’s got a tight-spinning fastball that receivers have trouble bringing in sometimes.
- Harris scrambled once through the three quarters for 14 yards. He continues to target Dural and Dupre more than anyone else. In this game, he targeted Fournette 4-5 times, though. In fact, OC Cam Cameron and Les Miles told ESPN that Fournette will catch the ball “a lot” as the season progresses.
- One thing’s for certain: Harris and Dupre have the fade pass down.
- Here’s an example of Harris reading things quickly and finding the open guy. Dural crosses with TE DeSean Smith. The Tigers ran this play a number of times, taking advantage of linebackers who were focused on …. Fournette.
- LSU ran a ton in the shotgun during this game with JD Moore out. Through three quarters, the Tigers were in the shotgun about 28 times in 68 plays – or nearly half. Bry’Kiethon Mouton played about as well as you could expect for a true freshman. He had one Blip, but accounted for about two Booms in the first three quarters. I would guess he played in about one-third of the snaps – so, much less than Moore normally plays. Mouton seems to have an issue finishing the block and driving his man. He’ll connect to the man, but there’s not enough movement after they meet.
- South Carolina really loaded the box a lot: eight, nine, even, 10 men in the box sometimes against Fournette. Many times, it didn’t matter.
- When asked about his heavy workload, Fournette told ESPN crews this week, “I don’t get tired. I sweat.” So there’s that.
- Below is just one example of Fournette’s vision. Yes, he’s big, strong, fast, etc. But his vision is something that’s often overlooked.
- “Angry” and “reckless” are perfect description of Derrius Guice’s running style. We like to refer to him as the Human Pinball. He bounces off of bodies and runs at what seems like his top speed all of the time. Guice equaled Fournette’s broken tackle mark in this game, at least through the first three quarters:
Derrius Guice: 8 broken tackles (4 on one play)
- Guice’s play with four broken tackles:
- Moore’s injury is below. It first appears like a thigh injury, but trainers examine his left knee while on the training bench. It is believed to be a left knee injury. The extent of it isn’t known, but Les Miles said it is not serious. Moore was seen walking around on the sideline after the injury.
- As mentioned above, this group had two more drops Saturday – one from Dural and one from Dupre. They weren’t easy balls to catch (Dural’s was low and Dupre’s was high and coming in hot). There were no real gaffes here, and Dural made up for his catch with that 62-yard TD reception – a pass that almost certainly was meant for TE DeSean Smith.
- Tyron Johnson continues to serve as LSU’s No. 3 receiver, it would appear. Trey Quinn and John Diarse still serve as the Tigers’ best run-blocking wideouts, but it’s Johnson who’s seeing more route running.
- LSU, for the first time this season, showed a true five-receiver set. It came on the last scrimmage play of the first half – before Trent Domingue’s field goal. Check it out (Jazz Ferguson appears to be the Tigers’ No. 5 pass-catching receiver).
- Let’s talk some real Xs and Os here before we hit on performance. LSU continues to run the nickel about 90 percent of the time. At least through the first three quarters, the Tigers ran the 4-3 about three times and the six-DB Dime just once (on John Battle’s interception).
- We already knew a lot of that, though. What we didn’t know: LSU used a standup defensive lineman and/or a linebacker on the line four times in the first three quarters. It’s what some call a “Buck” position. DE Arden Key, standing up, creeps to the line of scrimmage as the Buck most often, specifically in passing downs (three of four Bucks came on third downs). The Tigers didn’t only run the Buck in the nickel. They did it in the 4-3 defense at least once, with Lamar Louis and Key standing up at the line. On another play, Key and Kendell Beckwith played the roles. We’ve seen the Buck before this game, but LSU seemed to run it more against USC and in different formations.
- This is on the first series of the game. Key, in yellow, is the Buck. He rushes the passer, along with D-linemen Davon Godchaux (1), Christian LaCouture (2) and Lewis Neal (3). Godchaux and Key continue to be a deadly pair in the pass rush game.
- Here’s Key (yellow) and Louis (red) on a passing down in the 4-3 defense.
- This wasn’t the best day for the pass rush, at least in the first three quarters. Godchaux had a Pressure and so did Key, but that was about it. Godchaux’s Pressure:
- LSU’s linebacker continue to react and charge ball-carriers very quickly. Here’s on example of that from LB Deion Jones, who led the team with two Attacks (outstanding defensive plays that result in negative yards) through three quarters.
- Let’s hit the sour notes first – those two third-quarter TD passes. Rickey Jefferson got beat on the first one. Jefferson has struggled, at times, on coverage. The first one – a 36-yard completion to slot guy Jerell Adams – I haven’t a clue who was supposed to be on coverage. It was either Kendell Beckwith or Dwayne Thomas. Adams was aligned in the slot and ran a go route straight down the field. Tre White, after the game, called it miscommunication.
- South Carolina picked on Dwayn Thomas early with him matched up on Pharaoh Cooper, the Gamecocks’ best receiver. In fact, SC threw to Thomas’ man on six of its first eight pass attempts. Two of those went for completions. LSU rotated in covering Cooper after that, White said. South Carolina targeted freshman Kevin Toliver’s guy four times (again, first three quarters only). That resulted in one completion.
- Back to some Xs and Os stuff. LSU has a new safety in the six-DB Dime set: John Battle. Battle replaces Corey Thompson, who began the year as the safety spot in the Dime. He was the Dime safety in the first two games and then – BOOM! – LSU stopped running the Dime almost completely the last three weeks. And Thompson? He did not even dress out for the game against South Carolina. He did not make the 70 “travel” limit for the away game at Tiger Stadium. This is where LSU needs Jalen Mills – the Dime. The Tigers obviously don’t trust their third safety Battle/Thompson) enough to run the six-DB set.
- Injury note: Jamal Adams suffered a stinger to his left shoulder, but it must have been mild. He returned on the ensuing series. Battle replaced him.