This will be Joe Burrow’s first game against Texas A&M but it won’t be the first game against their defense.
Texas A&M’s Mike Elko runs a very similar base defense to Alabama. That Crimson Tide defense smashed the LSU offense to bits (as is tradition) but the Aggies defense is not nearly as dangerous as Bama’s.
Burrow will be up against the country’s 89th overall passing defense but the Ags do get after the quarterback. They’re 11th in defensive sack percentage. I’d like to see Burrow take what he learned from playing against Alabama’s defense into this game. Overall, they are 33rd defensively, buoyed by their #7 overall rushing defense.
Elko employs a 4-3 Under base defense while playing quarter-quarter-half coverage behind it. I noted after the Alabama game that because LSU had no success in that game, the Tide didn’t need to shift out of their base defense. One of the reasons was the pressure put on Burrow even though the defense only rushed 4 players.
Hopefully the offensive line is more settled in this week, LSU is 91st in giving up sacks so if that stout Aggie front can again get pressure on Burrow, it might be another long day. According to PFF, of their 4 highest graded players, 3 of them are defensive linemen. Justin Madubuike, Kingsley Keke and Daylon Mack are all having fantastic seasons with Madubuike being the best pass rusher of the group.
LSU will have to mitigate the pass rush or they might not be able to expose Texas A&M’s poorly rated secondary.
Elko’s 4-3 (4-2-5) is a timeless defense that gives good angles to it’s pass rushers unlike LSU’s Tite defense. By alignment, there are a lot of 1v1 opportunities.
The nose tackle eats up a double team from the guard and center, freeing up the 3-tech on the guard and the defensive ends on the tackles. Madubuike plays on the interior and takes advantage of the guards.
The 2 inside linebackers are responsible for the weakside A-gap and the strongside b-gap. These are the open gaps based on the Under alignment by the linemen.
The base coverage, as noted, is 1⁄4 - 1⁄4 - 1⁄2 . It’ a hybrid between a 3 deep and 4 deep coverage.
To the field side, they have the corner and safety off with an apex player (think sam linebacker or nickelback) to play over the slot receiver. They play the corner off to the wide side because it’s a long throw to the flat. They don’t mind if you throw it a couple times before they make an adjustment.
On the weakside, it’s more of a cut look. This means the corner will be down and protecting the flats while the safety will cover him from deep. Shorter throw to the flat means you need a guy down there.
Against the run, they really like to trigger that hard corner when he sees run action so I’d like to see some play action and then just flip it out to the receiver on a little stop route. Could be easy money.
They’ll switch it up too, here they play cut on both sides. Ole Miss has a good answer for it with the pop pass to the h-back.
This is the scheme that gave Burrow fits in the shutout loss to the Tide. A lot of those issues had to do with Alabama being able to pressure Burrow while still having 7 guys in coverage. You’d like to believe that the Aggies won’t get that kind of pressure but like I said, they are very good at getting to the quarterback.
Burrow is going to have to fit the ball in the hole between the sitting corner and the safety. It’s not the easiest throw, but it’s going to be there.
With that said, I think that they’ll come out with more schemes than Alabama did. They’ve shown some single high defenses. A rotation to Cover 3 and another to Cover 1. I’ve seen them send the Sam ‘backer when they rotate down into man. They do stuff like that.
Rotate to cover 3:
Rotate to Cover 1 and send the Sam:
Burrow will try to take advantage of 1v1s with his outside receivers when they spin down. Both the fade and the backshoulder throw are in his arsenal.
LSU has seen Elko before. He was Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator last year. However, LSU’s offensive scheme is drastically different. We’re giving teams so much 11 personnel that TAMU should stick in that clean 4-2-5 look.
Their pass defense isn’t good so this is a test that Burrow needs to pass. Let’s go get win #10.