The big homie Poseur kinda stole my thunder on this one. His great article on the underlying numbers with this LSU offense is a very important read on what exactly going on.
Unfortunately, I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum.
This team is now 6-1, sporting a win over the formerly No. 2 team in the country, but I just don’t know how good they are. They’re fifth in the human polls but only 14th in S&P+ (a much better approximation for how good a team is). I just can’t get a read on this team and I get nervous thinking about how easily this season could still turn sour with tough games against Mississippi State (S&P+ rank 15), Alabama (S&P+ rank 1) and Texas A&M (S&P+ rank 18) still to come. We lose a couple close games to teams that are actually having very similar seasons to us and this becomes another “what direction is this program headed” type of season.
PaulDan had a great tweet that summarizes my feelings on the whole season:
What is it about Joe Burrow that always makes it feel like he played so well and then you look at the box score like... pic.twitter.com/90iZCLjxqo— Dan Davis (@ATVS_PaulCrewe) October 15, 2018
We beat Miami, Auburn, Ole Miss (who isn’t having a bad season) and now Georgia but then I go back and look at how we did it and it just isn’t very convincing in terms of how teams generally win football games.
This season has the potential to be the opposite of the 2016 season. That team was legit dominant but got screwed by, first, playing Brandon Harris against Wisconsin, and, second, having Cam Cameron call the plays for both Wisconsin and Auburn. That team finished fourth in S&P+ despite losing four games. This season we might end up with one or two losses but not quite hit the dominant heights of that 2016 team.
With that said, 2016 sucked. Losing games sucks. Moral victories are useless. I want this team to win and win now.
When you look at the box score for the Georgia game, it perfectly encapsulates how you can upset a team that’s better than you. Big plays and turnovers.
Georgia’s overall success rate was 41 percent to our 35 on offense. The national average is 41% so we were way below that. Georgia was more efficient than us. Efficiency is the No. 1 factor in winning football games. Usually, you’re going to lose when you are less efficient. Where LSU really struggled in this category was passing downs. They came away with a dreadful 19% success rate on those downs with Burrow only throwing for 46 yards on 10 attempts while also being sacked 3 times.
LSU hit just enough creases, caught just enough deep balls on early downs that they were able to make their way into Georgia territory often enough. By the end of the game, LSU had 8 drives end up past the Georgia 40 while Georgia only had five. Both teams scored points every time they got down there, (NOTE: of course, I am stupid and forgot about the fake field goal which I diagrammed below) LSU was just there more because they had more possessions by taking the ball away.
Let’s take a look at those big plays and how they worked:
The fade route to Marshall
One of the few things that Joe Burrow has been consistent at this year has been his fade and back shoulder fades to his wide receivers. This is perfect timing and a perfect ball. Georgia is going to be playing their Cover-3 match coverage. This is a single high coverage so for Burrow to able to throw this fade route, he must keep the safety in the middle of the field. I don’t know if Burrow is reading a concept to his left but I believe he looks there during his dropback to keep the single high safety in the middle of the field. Right when Burrow finishes his drop, his head snaps to the right and throws a beautiful fade with great timing off one hitch step.
The fake field goal
I’m gonna assume that y’all remember this one:
Georgia tried to pull the wool over our eyes by running the exact same fake but they didn’t know that Grant Delpit is a precog and already knew they were gonna run it.
Again, the scheme is the same. The idea is that through film study, the kicking team notices that the last defender is busting his ass to block the field goal. You let that guy free and then flip the ball. Now, your tight end can work down the field and seal anything off. The subtle difference in Les Miles’ scheme compared to Kirby Smart’s is that LSU didn’t block either the last man or the second to last man. By trying blocking Grant Delpit, he was able to see everything that was going on. Good on Grant, as well, for looking to see if the tight end released for a pass first before tackling that poor kicker.
Clyde long run on 3rd & 1
This is a relatively simple inside zone scheme with an arc block by the wing but a missed tackle and Joe Burrows athletic ability allow this to go for a big chunk.
I’ve drawn it out here:
Georgia aligns in an under front. LSU is going to read the field side end. Georgia has a little gap exchange going on that puts them in a good situation. The three-tech (weakside defensive tackle) is going to shoot the A-gap, while the Will linebacker is going to scrape over top into the B-gap. When the LSU right tackle and tight end go to double the defensive end and push him back into the Will, the Will just hops into the open gap where Clyde is running. LSU probably gets the first down by the running back falling forward if the linebacker makes the tackle in the hole. Where this gets interesting is the play of the safety. Because they’ve seen Burrow run zone read on film, you can see the safety fly down to the side where the quarterback is going. When Clyde breaks the tackle there’s nothing but green grass ahead of him.
I’m going to assume this bust is on the cornerback. Everyone else on Georgia seems to be playing Cover 3 so I don’t know if the corner thought he got whatever Georgia’s corner blitz signal is from the sideline or he honestly bit on the play action fake but I do believe he messed this up.
Glen Logan and Michael Divinity sacks
I really liked Logan’s move here. He set the guard up outside before coming back inside with a violent club and arm-over (swim) move. You can see the way that his hips flip outside as he clubs so he can get skinny in the hole and get after the QB.
Such a nasty spin move here from Divinity. We always tell a pass rusher to have a plan when they go out there on third down. My man had a plan here. What makes this work is his get off and speed to force the tackle to kick hard to keep up with him. He made the tackle afraid of getting beat straight outside. The spin itself is nice too and you can see as he turns his body he slams the tackle with an “ice pick” move to knock him over. Great stuff.
Kristian Fulton Pick
I can’t find a good replay of this but I believe LSU is playing Cover-2 Man coverage on this one. The more I watch the clip, the more I can’t tell the coverage honestly. This could be Aranda’s Wizard-4 blitz and coverage. Either way, the coverage allows Fulton to play super aggressive on the wide receiver because he has a safety (Delpit) directly behind him. This is where having someone mature opposite of Greedy Williams comes into play. What a great pick.
When you hear coaches say “do your job” it’s for things like this. Let’s go back a couple weeks to the Auburn game as they went up 21-10 on LSU.
The guy who catches the touchdown is Grant Delpit’s man. He gets too focused trying to stop the toss that he doesn’t do his job and cover the tight end.
Fast forward to last Saturday.
Watch Delpit. He follows his man all the way across the field even bypassing the running back because he’s doing his job. Let the guys responsible for setting the edge stop the run. Just a heads up play.
Justin Jefferson double post
Off play action, LSU runs a double post concept with Foster Moreau running the inside post and Justin Jefferson running the outer one. For Burrow, this is a read on the safety and even though we don’t see him on the screen, he must have bit enough on Moreau’s post to open up Jefferson for Burrow to hit him. What a catch by Jefferson. The safety actually makes a good play to come back to Jefferson’s post but the reason that he doesn’t get in front of the ball is, potentially, because he’s watching the ball in the air rather than finding Jefferson and cutting him off first.
Burrow shake n’ bake
aka “Burrow’s March to The Six”
aka “59 YARDS THROUGH THE HEART OF GEORGIA”
This is as classic an inside zone read as you can get and Burrow gets free for a bunch of yards. From Georgia’s perspective, the problem is between the Will linebacker and the defensive end. One of those two has to be responsible for the quarterback and the other the running back. On this play they both thought they were running back players. If the defensive end was right and he was supposed to crash on the linebacker than the Will backer needs to stay outside of the mess and wait for Burrow to pull it and come to him. If the Will backer was right and he played inside on the zone run than the defensive needs to stay outside, shuffle slowly inside and force Burrow to give the ball to the running back. Big mistake.
This is a funky coverage from Aranda. LSU is blitzing six and then going to rotate to a two-under, three-deep coverage. Battle rotates from Sam backer to free safety. Delpit and Kary Vincent rotate from half field safety to weakside/strong side curl to flat players (from depth). Both corners stay high in Cover 3. Fromm looks at Battle/Vincent to see if he can hit the post route by his slot. At the time, Battle is still pretty low and Vincent has rotated down, so Fromm takes the shot. Greedy has done a great job staying over top the receiver. There’s a little bit of a seam if they can throw the ball over Battle and inside Greedy but Fromm misses a bit and both Tigers are there for the interception.
LSU will continue to need to find big plays for their big players to keep winning this season, just imagine what could happen if we could find some semblance of efficiency.