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Film Study: Brandon Harris vs. Wisconsin

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2015 Brandon Harris time travels to 2016

LSU v Wisconsin
Brandon Harris got into his Delorean on the way to Lambeau
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The more relationships I get into, the more I realize that I’m the same sad idiot that I was when I was a teenager, a young adult and now a slightly older young adult. The only facets of myself that change are superficial things. I go to the gym more these days. I’m balding a little bit (OK, more than a little bit). I have less money than I did 2 years ago but more money than I did 5 years ago. Those things have nothing to do with who I am deep down. I’m still vain and narcissistic. I have no patience, no work ethic and I don’t know how to stay interested in my relationships. None of that has changed since I was 18. Every time we make a superficial change in our lives, we want to believe that the rest will change also. It’s not that easy. Changing who we are takes more effort than just telling yourself, “tomorrow is a new day!” while you wallow in sleeplessness at 2 a.m. on a weeknight. I don’t have the time for that. I don’t think Brandon Harris does either.

What I watched against Wisconsin was the same quarterback I saw all of last year. At some point in the offseason, we all decided that Brandon wasn’t that bad in 2015 and we tried to contextualize his play against other quarterbacks and against other true sophomores. We said, “it’s his first year starting and he’s only a sophomore”. While those weren’t bad narratives, they made us too hopeful for 2016. The Brandon Harris on tape from 2015 showed up on tape again in the first game of 2016. He missed a lot of big plays in his read progression and missed more completions with his lack of accuracy. These are the same things we said in 2015. At this point, I don’t know how Danny Etling could be worse.

Rollout Smash Concept

The first play is already bad. LSU is running the simplest of smash concepts with a rollout for Harris. Looking at the picture pre-snap, Harris sees the corner a little deeper than the nickel/safety. If the picture stays the same post snap, it’s probably Cover 3 and we’re gonna throw the hitch route to Dupre before the slot defensive back can get underneath that route. Still, as a quarterback you can’t just assume a coverage before you get the ball and then throw blindly. At the snap, the corner turns toward his receiver. It’s not Cover 3 anymore. It’s man. Against, man we love the corner route by the slot. It’s a hard cover for a defensive back even if he’s outside shade like he is in this clip. Watch the slot run by him easily. That’s where the ball should go. With that said, because the corner was so off, the hitch route was a little open. It’s not ideal but he gets the ball to Dupre before the corner gets there. Why is the ball high? What I notice is that Harris falls away from his target (hasn’t been fixed from last year) after his throw and that he finishes the throw without transferring his weight fully forward from his back leg. I thought last year, his hernia was the problem with that. He’s not injured now, his back leg needs to come forward.

Play Action Hitches

I don’t know what the coaching staff is teaching Harris on this play but if I had two 6 yard hitch routes on either side of the formation I would probably want to look at the one where the corner is off at 9.5 yards. A press corner needs to be run off at more than 6 yards to have any chance at separation. Why put yourself in a situation like that?

Flood Concept

I’ll lay off Harris on this one because his line doesn’t give him a chance. He should end up hitting Dupre for a first down anyways, but, as noted, he can’t throw on the run very accurately when moving to his left (MORE ON THIS LATER UGH). LSU uses a lot of slide protection, so I’m going to assume this was a full slide to the right with Fournette filling in at the end of the line to the left. Everybody but K.J. Malone does this and then Clapp gets boned because he thinks he has his tackle buddy moving on a chain with him and then the lineman comes through almost untouched.

Stutter n’ Go

Not much to say about this one, LSU gets what they want and probably has a big play if the corner doesn’t hold Dural.

Play Action Deep Crosser

Harris ends up finding Dural for a 1st down when he buys time and Dural finds an opening in the middle of the field but it looks like there was a bigger play that Harris missed. LSU is running their bread and butter “make the safety wrong” downfield play action. The safety stays on top of the go route, so Harris looks at Dural on the crossing route and I don’t know why he doesn’t pull the trigger. Harris should be in the middle of throwing by the time the pressure gets to him, if it would have at all. Dural is open and there is a lot of room to put the ball. Another wasted opportunity.

Sack

Wisconsin has this pretty well covered. Jeter might be getting open late on the crossing route and I can’t find an angle to see Dupre’s backside route so chalk this one up to good defense.

Shallow Cross

Don’t know if the vertical routes we’re covered here but we’ll give Harris the benefit of the doubt and say they were. He ends up coming down in his progression to find Dural on the shallow cross and Dural does the rest of the work for a first down.

Comeback

Press corners get comebacks thrown against them. This is as good a throw as Harris has ever made. The timing and accuracy are perfect.

Interception

LSU needs a bunch of yards to get into field goal range so I don’t fault Harris for this interception. He made up his mind pre-snap that he was going to throw the vertical route no matter what and within the context of the time remaining and field position, it’s not a bad idea.

Billy talked about this play in his article. Here’s what I see: This is a paired concept so Harris has to decide pre-snap where he wants to go with the football. He chooses to go to the Slant/Flat side rather than the Snag side. I think it’s the right decision because he doesn’t want to work the Snag with that corner being off so high on the short side. Snag isn’t a great Cover 3 beater. I think what bothers me is that he never tries to freeze that linebacker. He looks at the slant right away and the linebacker opens to that side. That linebacker is the rat in the hole and he’s going to read Harris all the way. After it’s covered, I would have liked him to move his eyes backside instead of scrambling right away to find Dupre open on the hitch route. With that said, he knows in the quick game that if his first reads aren’t open he needs to escape so I don’t blame him. Looking back, retroactively, the Snag concept was the best choice because it was man coverage and he could have hit the corner route down the field.

Deep In

With bad throwing technique you are going to be erratic with your accuracy. Harris makes the right read but throws a bad ball on the deep in to Dupre. The timing and the read were very good but you’re going to put your receiver in tough situations when you can’t deliver an accurate ball.

Wheel

This was obviously designed to go to Fournette all the way and Harris buys enough time waiting on the wheel route to develop and get open. Good ball placement and a desperately needed big play. I like that they ran it to the same side as the 2 receivers. They made it look like their normal play action deep concept.

Bubble Touchdown

Good pre-snap read by Harris to throw the bubble and not stick with the run play that was designed. Dural’s stiff arm is so nasty.

Smoke

What did I say about this stiff arm?

Spot Route

Here’s an easy 3rd down conversion. When the linebacker blitzes, there is a big window to throw the spot route to Dupre.

Fade

Sometimes you decide to take a shot on the fade route. Harris holds the safety for a second in the middle of the field and then take his chance down the field. He’s got to put the ball a little deeper but, honestly, this is pass interference.

All Hitches

Wisconsin is in pretty perfect coverage for the route concept that is being run. Tough to complete six-yard hitches vs press corners. The hitch from the slot is not against a press DB but it’s bracketed so that doesn’t work either.

One Man Route

Nine men in protection but we can’t protect Harris. It’s a good play by Harris to look at his check release route by Jeter after he escapes the first rusher but he’s covered and there is really no where to go with the ball.

Slip Screen

I think this is just a great play by the Wisconsin defender. Pocic gets a piece of him and he’s still able to get onto Fournette. It’s too bad because this would have been a huge play.

Crossing Route

This is a good read by Harris. The guy who makes the tackle on Smith is the corner who came off the deep route after seeing the ball in the air. We might still be running if he sticks to Dupre down the field. The read is made when the safety stays over top and the underneath defender plays Dural’s shallow route.

Hit as Threw

The play action makes Harris’ drop very deep and then Malone gets rekt by Watt who hits Harris. Dupre looks open.

Inside Pressure

Malone gets handled again and this is a fine play by Harris to avoid the rush and then find Dural for a short gain.

Slant/Fin

Easy quick game read for Harris. When the slot defender runs with the slant, he knows he can go to fin route and hit Dural. The accuracy is awful. You have to give your receiver a chance to make a play after the catch. On this play, Dupre probably gets tackled right away but you never know.

“MORE ON THIS LATER UGH” - Seth Galina, above.

I don’t think there’s really a point in dissecting this too much. Harris is flushed early and he tries to force a ball in when he should throw it away or run and live to see another down.