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In da Film Room: Brandon Harris vs. Ole Miss vs. My Sanity

We look at Brandon Harris against the Rebels.

LSU v Mississippi Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

We’ve been through a lot this year, you and I. Ups and downs. Wins and losses. And now, we come to this: a game where Brandon Harris threw 51 passes. To quote the internet, "aint no one get time for dat". Breaking down 51 plays in a game where we were down 24-0 at one point would just be irresponsible for my mental health. Therefore, in lieu of having to commit myself to the Parkview Psychiatric Hospital (that’s where Jack Hardemeyer had the Ghostbusters holed up before the mayor found out and they were released and went to free New York from the tyranny of Vigo with the Statue of Liberty and then a bunch of Bobby Brown songs played during the credits) I have decided to watch the game and then break down a select few plays. At this point in the season, we’ve seen LSU run a lot of the same plays so I cut up plays that I felt I could expand on a relatively fresh way.

RPO Slant -

This play looks like an Run-Pass-Option (RPO) where a run play is called with a slant route built in. Harris will decide based on pre-snap alignment whether to hand the ball off or throw the slant. We see nine Rebels in the box with no player threatening to take away the slant route. Often we will draw an imaginary line (the Apex line in R4 terminology) that splits the difference between the tackle/tight end and the first receiver. On this play, everyone is inside the Apex. Unfortunately, for me, that’s just the first step. The second alignment key is the corner. This corner is playing hard inside, staring at the receiver and only at 5 yards. This is no bueno to throw the slant unless you’re okay with picking up a negligible gain.

The next play -

Look familiar?

It’s a good read. The first post gets picked up by the safety and then he waits for the underneath coverage to declare itself. The linebacker runs to the flat so he can now hit Dural on the second post and then Dural gets bodied. So much of this bad throw has to do with his feet. The corridor that he’s throwing into is so far outside of the window he should be throwing into.

Interception -

What I don’t like about this play is the technique used on the slant route by Dupre. He runs it like he’s running a drag almost. It’s like a speed cut slant. It almost looks like he plants on his inside foot and then the outside leg swings around. What’s happening is that on his third step (fourth if you include the bogus false step at the line of scrimmage), which is the step you’re supposed to be cutting to your slant on, he doesn’t hit the ground hard enough to make the defensive back react to anything. This is why it looks like he’s starting his cut on his inside step. The defensive back has no reason to backpedal. How did Malcolm Brown pick Russell Wilson in the Superbowl? Because nothing told him to start his backpedal and he just came downhill from a flat footed start.

Comeback -

I’ve talked about this route a lot and it never ceases to inspire me. The comeback route might be my favorite route in football. We’re taught in little league that when the corner is pressed up, you have to throw the fade route. Since we grow up with this idea, cornerbacks tend to overplay the fade route in these situations (and they probably should since although it’s a low percentage completion, it’s always a big gainer play). Insert: comeback route. Johnson gets a clean release and then explodes upfield on the outside before slamming on the breaks.

Johnson Touchdown -

I think bust is on the far side safety. When he rotates to the middle of the field, his safety friend is standing right there next to him on the hash. Looks like Ole Miss wanted to play some sort of Cover 2/4 look on both sides of the formation and that safety rotated to Cover 1/3 by mistake. Harris probably wants to throw the fade route to Johnson in rhythm anyways so when he sees the safety rotate strong and to the middle he thinks he has a shot against a man or Cover 3 corner, instead he gets a free touchdown.

A Canadian Wrinkle -

This play is run ubiquitously in Canada. The tight end coming underneath the zone blocking scheme and either whamming the end or then leaking out into the flats. I can see LSU running this a lot more next year. I have this feeling that we’ll see less a fullback sets while still using multiple tight ends. I think this also gives Jeter a better chance at being effective because he’s not a great point of attack blocker.

Panic at the Disco! -

Okay, great, you wanted to throw a backside slant because the pre-snap look was very welcoming but alas Mr. Defensive End has thwarted your plans. No worries! Just get to your trips side where the routes should be developing later than the slant route did. "Nah, I’m good. I’m gonna stare at this slant forever" - Brandon Harris, I would imagine.

Interception 2: Judgement Day -

This is a damn tough throw to make. It’s the throw that Ole Miss wants Harris to have to make. In Cover 2 Man coverage, the man defenders can play underneath any route because they have 2 safeties over the top to help out. This is what the defender covering Jeter does here. He’s in great position and Harris’ throw is too behind Jeter and right into the hands of that defender. It’s a throw that Saint Drew makes often but not really an easy throw for a true sophomore.