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In da Film Room: Donte Jackson

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#Donte4Heisman

Arkansas v LSU Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

My first year coaching at the collegiate level, I was the assistant defensive backs coach. Our best player was a kid who is now starting at corner in the CFL. Teams were afraid to throw at him. Ironically, this led to our other starting corner to lead the league in interceptions. At one point, this great corner kinda blew an assignment and on the sideline, I was like, “bro, wtf are you doing?” He replied, “yooooo I’m so bored out here. I was just wanted to go make a play!”

That is the season that Donte Jackson is having. He’s locking down everything in existence whether he’s inside or outside and now playing safetyman. At halftime of the Auburn game, someone had tweeted at an LSU journalist, “why isn’t Donte Jackson making plays this year?” The reason you’re not seeing him are because he doesn’t allow the ball to come close to him. He’s only allowed 20 catches and has been targeted only 41 times. He’s still yet to give up a touchdown.

John Battle has had an up and down season, so Aranda turned to Jackson to play more of a safety role against Arkansas and Jackson showed up on the stat sheet. There’s only three more games (most likely) of Jackson in a Tigers’ uniform so I felt it was high time to heap some praise on the young man.

This is the Donte Jackson game:

He’s lined up over the slot and I think LSU is actually in their “man on the outside, zone inside” coverage so Jackson has the out of No. 2 and then he’ll lock on to wheel routes. He plays over top of the switch release by Arkansas and gets caught a little bit but does a good job recovering and squeezing the route to the sideline.

Now, he’s lined up at safety and drives hard on the dig route by the slot receiver. Wish there was a replay of this but from I understand about football, Jackson stays deep over the top of the in breaking route of the wide receiver which forces Austin Allen to come down to his intermediate route, and then Jackson jumps that one. That’s great.

First, this is a good play by Corey Thompson to take on the block of the receiver and force the running back to bounce. Don’t get me wrong, the receiver doesn’t really try to push him anywhere but it allows Donte to come down, use his speed and make a big stop.

Jackson does a goob job disguising his intent to pillage Allen and then is free to get the sack. When you said pressure off the edge, the blitzer is going to come into the C-Gap. This means you need to put the guy lined up in the C-Gap (Arden Key) into the next gap over so you don’t have two in the same gap. Usually you just stunt the whole d-line one gap over. If Aranda would have done this, there is a chance that the tackle would feel Key trying to find is way into the B-Gap and then slide out knowing there is an edge rusher. What Aranda does is loop Key into the A-Gap and then have the tackle (I can’t see who it is) fire off into the B-Gap to occupy the tackle. His job isn’t to create pressure on the quarterback, he’s just is to get his hands on the tackle and make his presence known. Good design.

No replay here, of course. With only one receiver running a route from his side of the field, Jackson has free reign to come down on the dig route. He has his corner friend on the outside to help on any deep route. Can’t see what happens at the top of the route to see how the receiver comes wide open like that.

Jackson does a great job coming down and filling the alley. He finds his way through the mess and cleans up after Devin White’s missed tackle. A pretty good job for a guy who isn’t used to having to see through a bunch of bodies and find the ball carrier.

No one open down the field thanks to Toliver and Jackson in coverage. Allen is forced to keep it and takes a big hit.

By the end of the third quarter and all of the fourth, Aranda moved Jackson back to corner. He shut down anyone in front of him, again. By my count, he was targeted three times. One was after a little scramble by the quarterback and these were the other two:

Love that he puts his hand out to feel the receiver so he knows when the break is happening. He then squeezes down on the receiver when he reads that it’s a slant.

Playing open to the quarterback and soft gives the quarterback the impression that it’s Cover Four and he can hit that rolling out cut. Because the slot receiver went vertical, Jackson knows he can come down on the wide receivers route. The quarterback double clutches and you can’t do that against the speed of Jackson. Would have been nice to see a pick-six here.

Jackson has been lights out all season. Pro Football Focus grades him No. 1 overall on the LSU defense but it’s nice to see him get on box score with some good plays.