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The Midweek Film Review: LSU @ Ole Miss

A terrible defensive performance

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was bad.

You’d be hard pressed to find a worse outing by an LSU defense in this millennium. In fact, only twice has LSU allowed more than 600 total yards in a game and only twice have they allowed more than 400 rushing yards in a game. If this performance had come in almost any other year since 2000, we’d treat it as a abnormality and shout a bit before remembering how good LSU’s defense is. This year is different. LSU’s defense has not been that good, especially given how much talent is on the field.

It’s hard to find many positives when you fire up the film. LSU was beat soundly. Ole Miss bypassed LSU’s cornerbacks, their two most talented players, to have their way with everyone else inside. The Phil Longo Ole Miss offenses failed because they continually tried to test LSU on the outside. Even with the vast array of talented Ole Miss receivers, this didn’t work. The Rich Rod offense acted as if outside receivers didn’t exist and ran everything through his quarterback as a running threat.

Soft Edges

Ole Miss didn’t even do that much. They really lined up in one formation the whole time and ran but a few schemes on the ground. That one formation gave LSU fits. When Ole Miss lined up in trips with a tight end as the 3rd receiver, it played against LSU’s tite defense rules and gave them a very soft edge.

You can see that to the tight end side, there is no immediate LSU player in the C-gap or D-gap. This is fine, to a certain degree, for LSU’s defense. They have a player responsible for those two gaps (Queen/Phillips and Stevens). The Tigers run this defense all the time and have shut teams down with it so it’s not like they came into the game with an unsound defense. The goal is for the ball to bounce out to the 2nd level defenders who chase it down.

Where Rich Rod messed the defense up was by reading the last down defensive lineman to the trips side with the quarterback. The running back was on a wide sweep path, whether it was through a meshed handoff or pitch, he was the outside runner. The quarterback, if he kept, was the inside runner.

The purple lines are the normal leverage that the two outside LSU defenders are trying to keep. If Ole Miss runs a normal sweep where they block the circled LSU player, the linebacker can stay outside of the Ole Miss tackle and make the play. However, since they read the circled LSU defender, the Ole Miss tackle can arc around the LSU linebacker to seal him inside.

I’m sorry the clip starts late but Ole Miss is reading #97 Glen Logan and then finding room outside in that newly created hole. LSU would do well to force the quarterback to keep the ball but the problem is that a burly interior defensive linemen is no real threat to contain anything.

Mississippi State tried a similar concept against LSU but tried to read one of the outside defenders and often ran it from more of a spread look. LSU shut that down much easier, though it was still a good play for the Bulldogs.

Ole Miss was efficient running that concept throughout the whole game. With the type of quarterback like Plumlee who you’re fine with getting a bunch of carries, it’s really a great scheme versus Aranda’s defense. LSU would have liked to force the ball back inside with the quarterback so the backside linebacker could scrape over top and meet the quarterback at the line of scrimmage but couldn’t do it.

Missing a Clean Up Hitter

All of this Ole Miss scheme was fine and dandy but you don’t total over 600 yards on 7 yard carries here and there. Ole Miss had 10 explosive plays against LSU. One of the problems with how Aranda lines up his defense is that he often chooses to play with 2 safeties deep. This doesn’t necessarily mean the guys we designate as safeties it just means 2 deep players on the snap. Playing like that puts the defense at a numbers disadvantage in the box but Aranda has his accounting tricks to help gain the numbers back and the guys in the front can help by getting off blocks and making some plays above their weight. Unfortunately, sometimes your guys just don’t get off their blocks. That happened quite a bit on Saturday but it’s fine because you can limit the explosive plays with your safeties. These guys are the clean up hitters of the defense to each half of the field. If a linebacker gets caught in the wrong gap and the runner hits the hole, they make sure the run is stopped at 7 yards rather than 70 yards. On most Saturdays, LSU has one of the best clean up hitters in college football.

Grant Delpit played one of the worst games I’ve ever seen from him. It hurt my soul watching him play football against Ole Miss because I know in my heart that’s not the player he is. He was slow and most likely still very injured. Besides almost getting an interception on one of the few times Ole Miss threw the ball outside, Delpit was bad. It wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t see him until Atlanta if the injury is really bugging him.

You can’t find a lot of big Ole Miss plays without also finding Delpit whiffing on a tackle. Tackles he’s made time and time again. In fact, it was the Ole Miss game in 2017 that was his coming out party because of his missile like qualities when attacking Ole Miss’ run game.

If you are going to live in a 2-high world, your safety needs to clean everything up and Delpit did not do that.

Again, it hurts me to do this but let’s take a look at some of those plays.

Here Ole Miss is running Counter GT and when Micah Baskerville gets caught too low and can’t scrape over the top to fill the hole, the running back bursts through. Delpit comes down and makes the tackle for only an 8 yard gain. Except he doesn’t.

Another Counter GT but Ole Miss fakes like they are running their famous read play I wrote about. Baskerville does a good job to box the runner inside by using outside leverage of the puller. You’d like the interior defensive line to hold themselves a bit better but the run go straight to Delpit who should be playing this inside out because LSU is boxing it. He plays it outside in and a 4 yard gain turns into a 1st down.

This touchdown occurs because Delpit peaks his head inside the lead running back instead of keeping his outside leverage like he’s supposed to. If he stays outside the ball is forced to a free Jacob Phillips.

This one is on both Queen and Delpit. Counter GT again. Chaisson spills the first puller to force the ball carrier outside of him and Queen does a good job coming backside after the fake toss to the running back. Queen just misses the ball carrier (Plumlee is damn fast) so Delpit needs to clean up for his teammates mistakes. Queen overruns it which does put Delpit in a bad spot but I’ve seen that man make that play time and time again. He doesn’t here.

Rashard Lawrence doesn’t do a great job by hesitating on the fake reverse but really Delpit has no reason to chase the receiver on the end around. At this point you just know he can’t run. 5 yard gain turns into a touchdown.

The most egregious one was this. Once #8 is vertical, Delpit should pick him up and lock him down. He doesn’t. #8 wins inside with a lot of separation and then Delpit slips on the slick grass and it’s another explosive play. Obviously, he slips but that doesn’t look like Grant Delpit to me.

In a vaccum, each play is excusable but when it happens time and time again, the trend becomes clear.

Delpit has not been up to his All-American standard and with the lingering injuries he played the worst game of his career last weekend. It’s hard to believe that the ankle and hamstring injuries aren’t what’s keeping him down. He’s so much better than this. LSU will need him as the elimination games start in a few weeks. It will be tough to stop the bleeding with this Delpit going forward.