The 2019 LSU Tigers are 13-0, SEC Champions.
Damn, that feels good to type out.
I’ll admit it; I didn’t think this team could make it this far before the season. I was bullish that they had a shot to be really good. I think we all were. Even on Joe Burrow’s ability to become a very Good Quarterback and for this offense to break out.
I never foresaw this. Burrow putting together the greatest season in LSU history, one of the greatest in the history of the entire sport, and leading the Tigers to an undefeated season and their first SEC championship since 2011.
A record-tying fifth win against a team top-10 opponent, and an evisceration of what we’d heard all week was the nation’s best defense. A unit that was better than anything LSU had seen to date.
Burrow treated the Dawgs like every unit that came before them: 349 yards, four touchdowns, 41 rushing yards AND a 16-yard reception. LSU converted 9 of 16 third-down situations and 6.5 yards per play. All week I felt comfortable about this match-up. Almost too comfortable. LSU does too many things well for any defense to just stop it. Georgia seemed to focus more on trying to isolate Clyde Edwards-Helaire and take him away.
Here’s the thing — that’s not a bad idea! He’s been an incredibly effective security blanket for this offense for the last month. Even more than that, really. But there’s still the matter of Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr., who combined for 15 catches, 245 yards and four touchdowns. And dropped a potential fifth. It’s too much to deal with.
The Tigers were able to pull away comfortably in the second half, with only a garbage-time TD saving the Georgia offense from a shutout. And now the Tigers are the No. 1 team, matched-up with Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff, and Burrow will go to New York City this weekend to become the second Heisman Trophy winner in school history.
Y’all, this is a ride we’ve been waiting a long time for. Let’s enjoy the hell out of whatever comes next.
But we can still look back at how this one played out:
- Georgia definitely came out aggressive early on and tried to push the ball. They’re just not that good at it.
- Feels like such a huge mistake when Damone Clark facemasks Jake Fromm on what should be a third-down sack. Luckily, UGA couldn’t take advantage.
- Georgia tried to ape Auburn’s dime-heavy gameplan, but with a more aggressive bent bringing more rushers early on. But when Burrow catches his own batted pass and rips off a 16-yard gain with it, it might not be your day. Honestly he could’ve picked up a couple extra yards before going out, but it was already a gravy play.
- The defense backs off, and suddenly Burrow finds himself with about nine seconds to find Chase in the back of the endzone. So that’s plan A not working, then plan B.
- I also found the discussion of the touchdown review interesting, given that while yes, the ball does wobble a little after Chase hits the ground, there was nothing to suggest the ball had hit the turf at all. Meaning it didn’t matter how much the ball was moving. Yet all the CBS team seemed interested in discussing was the bobble.
- Just a guess, but I suspect D’Andre Swift’s shoulder injury played into the decision to use him more in space. Less chance of him taking a big hit from a linebacker or lineman.
- Dave Aranda went after Fromm early on. I suspect that was a combination of trusting his own defensive backs, but also not being quite as worried about Fromm making big throws.
- In the broadcast, Gary Danielson mentioned Kirby Smart dedicating to stop Edwards-Helaire, and you could see Georgia’s safety alignment shift when he motioned out wide. They also tracked him on swing passes out of the backfield well, especially on his would-be fumble. As Danielson typically does, he was so obsessed with his own “back of the wrist” theory, that he kind of lost the fact that Edwards-Helaire’s entire forearm goes down and it’s that impact that jars the ball loose. Ground can’t cause a fumble.
- Love the design on LSU’s second touchdown:
- LSU’s had a ton of success with their “duo” dive out of this bunch set, and they correctly guess that Georgia will bite with man-to-man coverage. Marshall releases like he’d be crashing down to block a safety, than just cuts out and runs to grass. Two-man route combo, but LSU’s tempo and tendencies set this up well.
- Rashard Lawrence played some big boy football in this one, setting the edge incredibly well for LSU’s pursuit. And when Georgia tried to read him he exploded into Zamir White for a big loss. Helped hold UGA to the field goal.
- Terrace Marshall had his biggest night since his ankle injury, but he’ll still be kicking himself for missing out on a 71-yard touchdown.
- Georgia worked mostly out of the gun on the night, but the first time they go under center, LSU brings Grant Delpit for a big sack.
- Next drive we see something that, I suspect, was a counter to the attention Georgia was paying to Clyde Edwards-Helaire. They went quick and had him lined up wide, with Justin Jefferson lined up in the backfield for a swing pass. Great way to catch a defense napping.
- Heisman Play No. 1 in this one:
- Georgia times a blitz perfectly, but Burrow sees the rusher, spins out and has the speed to get a nice gain after.
- Don’t love the QB draw call, but it nearly worked. Georgia’s defensive line did a nice job of squeezing the blocks. Forces LSU to settle for a field goal.
- And then UGA seems to heat up hitting a few throws against zone coverage, but Fromm makes a mistake of putting a ball up in single coverage on Derek Stingley. Maybe a Lawrence Cager might’ve gotten around the frosh, but it was not to be.
- Stingley is stride for stride, perfectly in phase. Not even sure why Fromm threw this. Just turns his head and catches the ball. Not an easy thing to do at all, but he certainly makes it look so. And this is a huge play here in terms of the intangibles. Georgia’s been misfiring all half and they suddenly hit a couple plays in succession. If they get points, they could’ve turned this into a two-score game entering the half. This pick gave LSU another chance to break this open, especially getting the ball to start the third quarter.
- That said, failing to take advantage with points, even with the game somewhat one-sided, it feels like a 14-point game that should be bigger. And that’s never a great feeling.
- Not a great start to that second half either, with Tory Carter committing a really dumb targeting penalty. In real time the hit didn’t look as bad, but on replay you can see he drops his head and barrels into a player that’s slowing up because he sees there’s no return coming. I’m sure Carter was amped up playing in his home state but that’s no excuse.
- Steve Ensminger went right back to that receiver-in-the-backfield look to convert a third down. Great constraint when the defense is keying on Edwards-Helaire.
- Also really liked this play design as well, which I don’t believe we’ve seen thus far:
- I’m a fan of pistol runs over the shotgun in general, but this play-action boot look tries to free up Chase on the deep over route while Jefferson and Marshall go deep out of the bunch. It just so happens Georgia loses Edwards-Helaire off the fake. And when you lose the back on a play like this he can be wide open on the wheel.
- O-line had some issues with Georgia’s speed on the opening drive of the half, struggling on some running plays, and then giving up the sack inside the 10, which leads to the field goal.
- Georgia finally gets a drive together and hits a few passes, but K’Lavon Chaisson roasts Isaiah Wilson with an inside spin move and gets the sack on Fromm. He stumbles, and Fromm is able to back away a bit but Chaisson does the smart thing and grabs and ankle. With only one short receiver over the middle, Fromm was more likely to just eat the ball on first down then take a risk to make a play.
- Fromm throws one of his best balls of the day, a jump-ball to Matt Landers, but Stingley recovers to get a hand in, and Delpit cleans up to prevent the touchdown.
- After a missed field-goal, Burrow has Heisman Moment No. 2. Pure magic.
- Looks like a “spacing” concept to the field, with the receivers bursting out to curl routes out of the bunch. Georgia brings six, but the weakside linebacker jams Edwards-Helaire and then takes him down the field, so Burrow’s pressure read is covered, with a stunt in his face keeping him from going to the play side. He manages to deke Travon Walker, and is just quick enough to avoid Jordan Davis, who also takes Walker back out in trying to get back after Burrow. Jefferson, for his part, follows his scramble rules and stems his route towards the sideline, but drifts deep towards some open space. And the thing is, when you see Burrow get free towards the sideline, his head is up and he’s looking for a man. So he puts it up to see if Jefferson can get it, No. 2 gets under the ball and then makes a heck of a run after the catch and nearly scores.
- And two plays later, he squeezes in a slant to Marshall for six, and it now just feels like Georgia’s back is broken. Even their body language doesn’t look great.
- So naturally, LSU kicks them even further on the next offensive play, as Stingley rips the ball out of George Pickens’ hands on an out-route. Fromm targeted Stingley SIXTEEN TIMES in this game. I’ve already wondered if Fromm’s accuracy issues stem from some unknown injury, but that really brings decision-making into question as well.
- Burrow cashes in to Jefferson, and this game was basically over before the fourth quarter hit.
I think most of us went into this game pretty confident, and it turned out to be the coronation, and that’s one hell of a feeling.