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In Da Film Room: Back 2 Basics

All Dat Power

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Louisiana State
Arden Key is trippin’ off that Power
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, I’ve been dealing with a bout of writers block and I feel like my In Da Film Room posts have suffered. At one point, I really enjoyed interweaving personal stories about love and life with the minutiae of football strategy. Eventually I just ran out of things to say about myself and the analogies between relationships and football became stretched and glaringly transparent. I’ve decided it’s time to go back to basics and shed this writers block just like (wait for it) Arden Key would shed a tackle’s block. I’m sorry.


The other day, I was talking to my Michigan friend who was telling me how the Wolverines played in a “dime” package the whole game against Illinois this past weekend and shut them down. Even on standard downs their personnel would be very light. With this philosophy, defensive coordinator Don Brown felt he needed to send some interesting pressures to make up for the lack of numbers in the box.

A picture:


This is a sound defensive philosophy and they dominated Illinois’ offense like they’ve been dominating every other team.

Our boy, Dave Aranda, went with a drastically different approach against the explosive Ole Miss offense on Saturday night. LSU shut down Ole Miss’ running game and got pressure on the quarterback with just their 4 defensive linemen (I’m placing Arden Key in this group). They ran a very basic defense but a defense wrought with sound principles and well coached/disciplined players. Aranda sat in his 4-2-5 defense and let his players read their keys and make plays.

This was the only time he blitzed. I consider a blitz as any pressure of 4 or more people.

And this was the only other time he sent a second level player on a pressure (but not a blitz because he’s still only sending 4 guys).

Ole Miss’ most common run play and where they get their explosive plays out of is their power play. They run it a few different ways but the gist of any power scheme is that you have 2 people coming from the backside to the frontside of the play to first, trap, and second, to lead through the hole. The idea is that you are going to kick out the end man on the line of scrimmage and run inside of that new gap that is created.

Stopping the power play starts with the guy who is the target of the trap. The tackle to the inside of him is going to down block away from him. If you’re undisciplined you are going to run straight up the field thinking you’re getting a free sack. All of a sudden, that backside guard/tackle/tight end just ran through your ear hole. LSU plays a “block down-step down” technique where the ends will read that tackle. If he steps away, you have to squeeze inside to shrink the gap. The next step is to fight the trapper by trying to aim for his inside to force him to turn his shoulders a bit. This closes the gap and gives the runner a bounce outside read.

Watch Arden Key absolutely destroy the trapper the first time Ole Miss ran the play:

The next part of the process is the job of the playside linebacker. He has to read his keys and come down and meet the backside puller in the hole and take on that player’s inside shoulder. You want to give the runner another bounce read.

Watch Duke Riley meet the tight end a yard in the backfield and force the play to bounce:

Why do we want the play to bounce outside? This is going to give your free defensive backs a clean angle to come downhill and make a tackle. You’ll see Jamal Adams and John Battle around the ball a lot against Ole Miss’ power because of this. On the inside, it gives your backside linebacker a better angle to get around the down blocks of the frontside offensive linemen getting try to cover the linebacker up. If the play hits where it’s supposed to, the backside linebacker has to be a little lower and that makes the block easier for the lineman. If the play bounces, that linebacker can flow over top. Being that he’s a better athlete than the offensive lineman, he can go over top of the block easily.

Watch Kendall Beckwith fly over top of the guard who is coming to block him:

The next time Ole Miss ran the play, you can see Duke Riley take on the wrong shoulder of the puller but Arden Key is so good that he sheds his block and makes the play. You can also see the tackle get his hands on Beckwith meaning the only play he can make to stop this play is for it to bounce to give him time to get to the sideline.

And now la piece de resistance:


The last time Ole Miss ran the play, Adams flew over the top make a great stop in the backfield:

Below, is the only time the scheme gave LSU trouble. You’ll see that Neal is already inside the tackle. The tackle can now just down block on Neal and both pulling linemen can work upfield. Beckwith probably should have knifed through inside the first lineman to make a play in the backfield but he hesitates.

The negatives of playing a “block down, step down” technique are that you lose a bit of time figuring out what your tackle is doing. This is going to hurt your pass rush. Unless you’re Arden Key going against a freshman tackle.

Ole Miss tries to incorporate other reads into their power package by adding a slant or fade to the backside or a bubble to the strong side. Here’s the slant to the backside where I presume Chad Kelly is reading Adams to see if he can throw the slant. Decent coverage by Jackson (who had a tough time on these type of plays the whole game)

This is Kelly reading, pre-snap, that he has a #s advantage to throw the bubble instead of running the power play. It’s a false read because Jamal Adams is omnipresent like a bayou deity.

For good measure, here’s the back breaking interception by Duke Riley. Against 2-high look, you can almost forget about the go route by the top receiver in the stack. This leaves Kelly with really only one option: the speed out route. Tre White is all over it. Kelly panics and throws blindly to his 3rd progression.


LSU dominated Ole Miss up front by running their pin and pull scheme to create big plays for Leonard Fournette. The pin and pull scheme is designed for any offensive lineman who doesn’t have a defensive lineman shaded backside of them to pull and lead for the running back. Everyone else has a down block. I love running this to the single tight end side, but LSU also made it work running it to the 2 receiver side.

(This one should have been another touchdown if he cut it all the way back)

And as a bonus, here’s LSU blowing up Ole Miss’ running the same scheme:

Bring on the Tide.