Film room: LSU's running game takes center stage in its 44-22 victory against Eastern Michigan _lowres


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)

A good pull: On second-and-10 from the Eastern Michigan 21-yard line, LSU QB Brandon Harris kept the ball on a zone-read play and ran around left end for a 21-yard touchdown.

  • Harris is looking at the defensive tackle (yellow arrow) on the play. The tackle is let free by LG Maea Teuhema, who darts to block a linebacker. The tackle steps toward RB Leonard Fournette because he’s Leonard Fournette. This is a perfect example of how Fournette affects plays even when he doesn’t touch the ball. Harris makes a good decision by pulling the ball here.
  • There are three key blocks on this play, and each are circled in red. The circles from left to right are Jerald Hawkins, Teuehma and TE DeSean Smith. They sustain the blocks to spring Harris for the touchdown (black arrow).
  • The zone-read is becoming one of LSU’s favorite plays. After all, the two key pieces on the play are athletic speedy guys in Harris and Fournette. Each is dangerous on the ground. Also, the Tigers could pass out of the play. Maybe we see that at some point later: Harris keeping the ball and then tossing down field.
  • Hawkins had some bumps in Saturday’s game – that 15-yard penalty for continuing to play with his helmet off and the missed block that led to Harris’ interception. But, he excelled at times in the run game, and here’s another good example of it. Hawkins (red circle) walls off the edge, clearing Fournette a large lane for that scoring jaunt.
  • Hawkins’ block is great, but Fournette’s stiff arm to EMU DB Anthony Brown is a must on this play. You see Brown? He’s circled in yellow and is in perfect position to make a tackle. Fournette extends his arm, pushing away Brown and jetting down the sideline. That can be considered a broken tackle. Fournette had six broken tackles against the Eagles.
  • The last thing that must happen on this play: TE Colin Jeter’s downfield block of a defensive back (red blocking arrow). Jeter gets the final block to spring Fournette.
  • Dan Hawkins, the former Boise State coach turned ESPN color analyst blurts out, “That was awesome!” after this play. It’s Hawkins’ style of play – razzle dazzle, as some would say. Hawkins calls it a “direct snap, reverse, throwback to the quarterback.”
  • RB Darius Jackson aligns at quarterback. The quarterback, Brogan Roback, calls for the snap with a clap of his hands. He’s the black arrow. Slot receiver Eddie Daugherty (red arrow) races into the backfield to receive a flip from Jackson, who then tosses to a wide open Roback in the end zone.
  • Roback is really the key to the play. For about two seconds after the snap, he stays completely still while action is happening around him. Then he darts toward the left corner of the end zone, running by safety Jamal Adams. Video:
  • DE Arden Key and DT Davon Godchaux make this play happen. Key gets the pressure on Roback after a nice pass-rushing move with Godchaux. The two players have been a lethal pair this season, and they illustrate just why here. Key stunts inside (red arrow) while Godchaux pushes to the outside, taking two offensive linemen (black arrows) with him.
  • Here’s the video:

Big Ugly Blips and Booms (O-line analysis)

  • The Booms were evenly spread throughout LSU’s entire offensive line. Remember, we chart each play and Booms are blocks that spring a successful running play. Important note for this entire blog: We stopped charting the game early in the fourth quarter, so must of this is the first three quarters only.
  • Will Clapp, Ethan Pocic and Maea Teuhema each had four Booms. For the most part, the group opened nice holes. LSU continues to use Clapp in a pulling manner and the Tigers continue to run behind him and Pocic more than anything else. RB Leonard Fournette, statistically, might have had the most success against EMU running to the left side behind Jerald Hawkins.
  • LSU finished with seven penalties for 51 yards, and it could have been so much more. For a second straight game, an LSU player continued to play after his helmet was knocked off. Hawkins did that against EMU, but the Eagles declined the 15-yard flag. Also, Teuhema was flagged for a false start.
  • Hawkins was responsible for LSU’s first turnover of the season. He eyed the outside linebacker on this play and was caught flat footed as Teuhema shoved his man into Hawkins.

Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)

  • Harris’ numbers were more woeful than he actually played (4 for 15). We charted four Misfires (errant throws) from Harris. Two to three more passes could have been placed better for the receivers, but the wideouts didn’t help out their quarterback very much in this one. We counted five dropped passes.
  • However, Harris still struggled, specifically with his reads. He missed open receivers, choosing to throw to covered guys. Fournette was wide open for a touchdown, and he instead threw to a covered Dupre. Here’s another example. Harris chunks one deep for Dural when Dupre (red circle) is wide open over the middle of the field. Dural has three defenders (black arrows) around him.
  • Random note: LSU was in the shotgun for for only about 10-13 snaps – the fewest amount this season. Again, that’s through the first three quarters.
  • Fournette did Fournette things, as you’d expect. He broke six tackles. That gives him 27 broken tackles the last three weeks (14 against Auburn and 7 against Syracuse). Thing is, he ran for 233 yards and much of it came against a stacked box. And we do mean stacked. There were multiple times where EMU put 10 players in “the box,” the area within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage. Check it out here:
  • Fournette got 26 carries against the Eagles, and it wasn’t just because the game was close. OC Cam Cameron told the ESPNU TV crew before the game that coaches wanted to give Fournette his “usual” in carries, which is about “20-25,” said play-by-play man Alan Bestwick.
  • One thing Fournette did that he probably shouldn’t have? This:
  • Bad day. Bad, bad day. And it probably incited this tweet Sunday from Malachi Dupre:
  • LSU had five drops: three from Dural (one of those was a shaky called PI), one from Tyron Johnson and one from Dupre. Two of the drops came in the end zone and a third could have turned into a score. Normally the Tigers most reliable receiver, Dural struggled. Harris and him couldn’t find a groove. Take for instance these three straight plays. The first is miscommunication on a route, second is a bad pass and the third: A drop, the worst of the day.
  • LSU receivers struggled to get separation all day and, at least three times, wideouts weren’t aggressive enough in catching passing. They sat back and waited for the ball to arrive. What happened? EMU players broke up the pass. It happened numerous occasions.
  • LSU wanted so badly to use reserves against such a lowly foe. The Tigers wanted to test backups on the defensive line and linebacker spots. What happened? Bad stuff.
  1. EMU with Kendell Beckwith/Deion Jones on the field through the first three quarters: 25 plays, 37 yards.
  2. EMU without at least 1 of Beckwith or Deion on the field: 21 plays, 153 yards.
  3. EMU vs. LSU when Tigers had reserves in at both DT spots, 1 DE spot and both LB spots: 10 plays, 99 yards.
  • We all knew depth was an issue for this unit, and it really showed. Some reserves didn’t even get a crack at all or saw very little time. Deondre Clark saw very little snaps, and freshman Isaiah Washington got in the game in the first half for three plays and didn’t enter again – at least not over the first three quarters. The same goes for Quentin Thomas. He got his first playing time of the season early in the game and then did not re-enter.
  • The main reserves who played included LB Duke Riley and Donnie Alexander and DE Sione Teuhema and DTs Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore – both normal rotating reserves. Alexander saw the most playing time of his career, probably. Riley played a ton, as well, and he struggled. EMU had six plays of 15 yards or more without LSU starting LBs Jones and Beckwith on the field. One of them included this 30-yard completion, in which Riley releases his man in coverage:
  • With Tashawn Bower out, DE Seione Teuhema saw about 18-20 snaps over the first three quarters. He had a Pressure. LSU’s defensive line pecking order is pretty obvious. Teuhema is clearly the No. 4 DE. Isaiah Washington might be No. 5. Clark appears to be a distant No. 6.
  • Key had two Pressures, and Lewis Neal had three. A Pressure is any hurry of the quarterback, forcing him to pass or scramble.
  • The penalty bug bit the LSU offense against Syracuse. It got the defense against EMU. Linemen Key and Davon Godchaux and linebacker Kendell Beckwith all had off-sides penalties. Coaches were not happy with Key’s off-sides, and they pulled the freshman afterward for Teuhema:
  • Check this out. At least once, LSU put Godchaux at end and had Neal and Key on the other side of the line with LaCouture between them. Key is in a standing position – the Buck role that Beckwith normally plays in the Tigers’ Dime set, something we did not see against EMU (we’ll get to that later).
  • For the first time all season, LSU played Ed Paris at cornerback – and it took Kevin Toliver getting his helmet knocked off to do it. A player must leave the game for one play when his helmet comes off. Paris entered for Toliver and played at least one other series.
  • LSU doesn’t sub much at all in the secondary. Safeties Rickey Jefferson and Jamal Adams play entire games. That goes for CB Tre White as well. Dwayne Thomas and Donte Jackson continue to rotate in at nickel back, and Toliver is the cornerback in the nickel.
  • For a second straight game, LSU did not use the six-defensive back Dime set, which includes the addition of safety Corey Thompson. That’s something to watch moving forward. LSU played the 4-3 defense about five times in the first three quarters and much of that was on the goal line, so, really, it was the goal line defense. The Tigers continue to employ the nickel as their base defense. They’re in it at least 90 percent of each game.
  • Random note: Cameron told the ESPNU crew that Jackson is the fastest player he’s seen since former Washington Redskins star Darrell Green, a seven-time Pro Bowl defensive back.
  • Rickey Jefferson’s coverage skills have not been smooth. He picked up a pass interference last week – an obvious call when he shoved the receiver. He does it again against EMU and gets away with it.
  • At least three times in the game, LSU brought a corner blitz. Here’s an example of one. Toliver gets a good Pressure on the QB with it, and Jones slides over in coverage.
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