Tiger football, and college football, is BACK baby!
Saturday’s win, aside from the 13 suspensions, more less followed the script that I laid out on Friday. LSU had their fits and starts, but the defense completely stymied the BYU offense and it allowed the Tiger offense to wear them down and win comfortably. LSU may not have dropped a huge point total on BYU, but the final margin was still an impressive 27 points, which is certainly more than I expected. And with lots to work on for week two.
With that in mind, let’s move on to our review notes:
- I understand some of the complaints lodged in some spaces about the offense, but in a raw numbers aspect, we’re talking about 479 yards of total offense and 6.4 yards per play, with a 50-percent third-down rate. Against a defense that could likely still be in the top half of LSU’s schedule.
- Seven different players took handoffs in this game. Extremely fitting with what we expected of Canada.
- As impressive as Danny Etling’s 14-of-17, 10-yards-per-attempt performance was, he also spread those completions across eight different receivers.
- Indicative of how the Tiger defense played as a complete unit: no single player had more than three solo tackles on the night. Completely swarmed the Cougars.
- BYU ran all of 38 plays on the night, and yes, never crossed the 50-yard line. That’s the lowest total I can find in BYU’s page on CFBStats.com, which goes back to 2008. The only number close was a 50-play effort against Michigan in a 31-0 loss in 2015.
- Missing piece on the night was explosive plays: just two plays of 20 or more yards on offense, and three total tackles for loss on defense, plus Greedy Williams’ interception. Both numbers will have to go up.
- And of course, the 10 penalties for 86 yards. I don’t get too wrapped up on penalties — good teams overcome them, we see it time and time again. BUT, they can be drive killers, as we saw with Toby Weathersby’s hold on the opening possession. I would note that the officials had some issues with the play-clock, which led to at least one procedural penalty and may have contributed to another.
- From a structural standpoint, we saw what we expected from Matt Canada’s offense right out of the shoot. LSU came out in 22 personnel with both Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams, but in an “Ace” formation with Williams in the slot. The entire offensive line shifts and switches sides, Guice moves from the set back position to the wing next to a tight end, and Williams motions into the running back spot, to set up an outside sweep handoff to Guice going left that picks up seven yards. It’s a simple play to stop, but in all the movement, chances are BYU had no idea where Guice even was until the ball was snapped.
- Weathersby had some issues with BYU’s massive defensive end, Corbin Kaufusi for most of this game, and Kaufusi was able to get under his left arm and draw a hold that more or less torpedoed the Tigers’ opening drive.
- Defense comes out with Tyler Taylor and K’Lavon Chaisson in the starting lineup in place of the injured Key and suspended Donnie Alexander. What really stood out about both players, was how disciplined each played. Very calm, very relaxed, like they knew exactly what to do. For Chaisson in particular that’s exciting to see, because the book on him as a prospect mostly revolves around him being very raw and still somewhat new to the game. Doing the little things well right now is a great sign. Talent will lead to the bigger ones soon enough.
- Taylor and Corey Thompson tag-team to stuff BYU’s running game early: on the Cougar’s first running play, Taylor shoots his gap perfectly and causes the back to bounce right outside into Thompson. Shortly thereafter, Thompson sets the edge well, and Taylor flies around him to make the play.
- Donte Jackson gives up the most noteworthy completion of the day on third down: LSU brings pressure, with Jackson a little too deep for third and nine.
- When I talk about players showing discipline, a great example is Rashard Lawrence blowing up the screen to force BYU’s first punt. He loops right in and the running back jams him, but Lawrence recognizes the play quickly and immediately bodies up on the Cougar back and doesn’t let him get out on his route — legally, and without holding him. Chaisson also did a good job of slowing up and sitting in the potential throwing lane as well.
- First touchdown of the year perfectly illustrates the principles of using the jet sweep as a constraint. Tight set, Darrel Williams carries out the fake, just one play after carrying the ball from the F-back spot. The motion holds Kaufusi and another defender and allows Weathersby and Ed Ingram to double-team the defensive tackle. Creates a nice big lane for Derrius Guice, although a defender does get through late on the opposite side.
- Nice interception on the very next play. Ed Alexander gets good push on a bull rush, plus Devin White comes through on a delayed blitz. Tanner Mangum chucks it up flat footed, and Greedy Williams does an excellent job of being in position and getting his head around to the ball.
- Right back to the jet sweep on the next play, and then the play-action bomb to Chark. BYU was remarkably conservative on defense and had their safeties back to guard against big plays, really all night. Even on this play, it was still a basic seven-man front — but sweep/zone combo fake brings both Cougar defenders up just a tad. Flat footed, and not in position to stay on top of Chark on the post. Throw wasn’t perfect, as Chark had to slow up barely, but it was a completion, and that’s enough.
- BYU’s coverage probably dictated most of LSU’s playcalling. The defense spent most of the game, essentially, daring the Tigers to run the ball. They were so determined to guard against the big play that they allowed LSU to keep a pretty steady pace of running and short passing.
- That said, I do think Canada could have mixed things up a bit more in the red zone. Although he did attempt a shovel-option type of play in the second half that BYU defended well.
- One interesting twist was how much LSU ran power and counter off of the jet-sweep fake. LSU’s guards seemed to have more success on the move, versus straight up against the BYU defensive line on zone plays. What Canada put on film Saturday will open up other plays as well.
- Tons of unbalanced, and tackle-over sets. And Canada’s not afraid to run away from the strength of the formation, either. Likewise, 12 personnel converted from an Ace/Two-TE look to a shotgun/slot alignment play-to-play.
- Credit BYU for doing what they could, structurally, to try and limit pressure opportunities with short drops and quick passes. Credit Dave Aranda for realizing fairly quickly, that the only Cougar receiver that was much of a threat was tight end Matt Bushman, and bracketing him in the second half.
- Special teams: less than great start, with a penalty and then a couple of iffy kick returns — John Battle may have saved a big return twice. But in the second half the unit settled in well, I thought.