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*Red Zone Concerns Intensify*

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NCAA Football: SEC Media Day Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, our resident old man, Poseur, yelled at some clouds about LSU’s redzone play in 2018. His article was illuminating for how bad the Tigers were a year ago inside the opponents 20. Here was the chilling finale written by Poseur:

Joe Burrow completed 32.6 percent of his passes inside the 20. Mizzou was the second worst team in the SEC, at 40.4. LSU was the only team with a passer rating inside the red zone below 100, and one of just two teams (Ole Miss 108.03) below 140. ONE FORTY. LSU’s passing game wasn’t bad inside the red zone, it was comically bad. It was so bad that if Burrow literally doubled his yards/attempt (2.37), the new number would still rank only fifth in the SEC. I would like to point out right now that LSU has a 6-7 receiver on the roster who ranked second on the team in receptions and yards, and who is yet to catch a red zone pass in his entire LSU career.

The whole article is great and a worthwhile, heartbreaking read.

The offense was useless in the red zone so I looked at the film to give more context to the stats. I watched Joe Burrow’s pass attempts in the red zone against SEC competition.

The first thing that popped out to me was how little success they had on football’s easiest completion: Spider 2 Y-Banana*

*I’m using “Spider 2 Y-Banana” as an all encompassing term denoting any goal line roll out flood concept. The play I chose is not the classic Jon Gruden Y-Banana play.

In my very quick charting (read: trying to remember things in my head), LSU completed ZERO of these passes. I really couldn’t find any and that is kinda shocking. It shouldn’t be that hard to leverage a fullback or tight end or backside slot receiver into the flat near the endzone. Yet, LSU had such abysmal success with this play that I can’t help but believe it’s a fluke and regression will catch up to the team and we’ll at least get one Joe Burrow to Tory Carter touchdown, and hopefully two.

The next issue, and this was an issue for Burrow throughout between the 20s also, is his reliance on fade throws down the sideline. I felt like his talented group of receivers bailed him out the whole year with great catches over defenders on these ‘9’ routes. The problem is whether or not this type of offense is sustainable. I don’t believe it is but I’d love to be proven wrong by the 2019 offense. In the red zone, however, Burrow’s luck ran out. Throwing the red zone / goal line fade is not a redeeming quality and a few NFL studies (like this one) have shown how much of a waste that pass is.

That clip is a good example of a wasted down. On 2nd & 5, when Georgia blitzes their Mike linebacker, the ball should quickly go to Johnathon Giles in the slot against outside leverage by the nickel back.

Same play later in the game, resulted in the same result, albeit the slant route wasn’t open on this one.

This next one absolutely destroyed me. Auburn comes with the corner blitz so naturally the safety rolls over the top from depth. Either that route on the sideline should break at about 6 yards for an easy completion or Burrow needs to get his eyes to the other side of the field. Throwing the fade against a defender that was off at 12 yards from the start is weird.

Like the goal line rollout pass, LSU was useless trying the end zone fade but it’s tough for me to assume that this will even out and LSU will catch 4-6 touchdowns on this next season. It’s just not a good play. Burrow trusts his receivers, and why not, they’re amazing, but let’s see them in better situations to exploit their ability.

There were a handful of plays that went well for LSU like this double slant (one of Burrows favorite concepts) that gave LSU a first down against Florida...

...but what I felt really could help the offense down in the danger zone is Burrow’s running ability. Yes, I know the staff wouldn’t let him run because Myles Brennan had a secret injury, but going forward it would be nice to see more of these plays:

LSU had success when they went to their QB Run stuff. When the defense can pinch everything in, you need that extra hat in the run game to sort things out.

Sure there were some unlucky plays that I watched:

That ball should be at the back pylon for a touchdown.

Again, unlucky here as the receiver gets free but can’t get his head around in time.

Overall, however, it didn’t feel like this was good process from the coaching staff and Burrow. Of course, these things are fixable and we’ll all be praying that they do.