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The Saturday Night Film Review: LSU @ Texas

Don’t Wake Me, I’m Dreaming

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

This all has to be a dream. Did I really watch LSU put up 45 points on the road against a “top 10” opponent? Did I watch the LSU offense roll up almost 600 yards of total offense? Did I watch 3 LSU receivers each go over 100 yards receiving? DID I WATCH AN LSU QUARTERBACK THROW FOR 471 YARDS?!?!

If I’m dreaming
Then just let me sleep
Don’t wake me up
‘Til my dream is complete

As of writing, I have still yet to come down from the high of Saturday and I really don’t ever want to. The LSU offense did whatever they pleased against Texas in a game that has became an instant classic. Joe Burrow was magical. It’s the best quarterback performance from anyone to ever wear an LSU jersey. I say that without any hyperbole. Joe barely put a wrong foot forward throughout the whole game. He pushed the ball downfield at will and the longer the pass, it felt like the more accurate he was. A deadly intermediate catch and run game coupled with a few shot plays left Texas bewildered. Burrow’s accuracy has stood out over the first 2 weeks of the season. Just look at all the “hands catches” the LSU receivers are making in stride. They’re getting open and then Burrow is delivering balls with incredible accuracy.

If I’m dreaming
Just leave me on my own
Turn off the lights
And unplug the phone

It didn’t start as smooth as it finished. Burrow had trouble finding open receivers at first. Right off the bat, Texas does a good job with their trap/sight cornerback to the wide side. The Longhorns are allowing the wide receiver on the top of screen to run free and then get picked up by the safety so they can squeeze the underneath routes. LSU is running stick or double outs and the underneath coverage is able to condense the windows because they don’t care about the #1 receiver. The ball should go outside to the sideline but it’s tough for a QB to get off the stick route and throw the far side 9. A win for Texas.

Later in the drive, on a 3rd down, the pressure gets to Burrow and he tries to break it by throwing the swing to Clyde. This may have been the “rush” route in the progression and if so, he’s right to throw it there. However, 2 Texas defenders accidentally cover the running back which frees up Terrace Marshall on the slant. It just sucks because right in front of him you can see the vacated area that Marshall’s route is coming into. Texas gets off the field.

Burrow threw one ball that was interception worthy and it was not the actual interception. That was the ball he tried to fit into the endzone on the run that hit the DB’s hands and then is dropped. The interception he did throw was on a batted ball so we can’t blame him for that. In fact, I think he makes the right read on the play. You guys wanted and NFL offense and I was shocked to see LSU run one of the New England Patriots staple plays: Hoss Y-Juke. It’s an empty formation play with the 2 outside receivers running 6 yard stop routes, the #2 receivers running seams and the #3 receiver to the trips side running the “juke” route. This is the concept that Tom Brady marched his offense down the field with to kill off the Rams in the Super Bowl. It’s 3rd and 9 here so Burrow is not really interested in hitting the juke route for 4 yards. Instead when he sees the pressure come from the weakside linebacker, he knows he has a window to throw to Ja’Marr Chase who bends his seam route inside because the safety looms over top of him. He’s open for a first down but the ball gets tipped. LSU got what they wanted with Chase in man coverage against a guy wearing #46 but alas.

The first Justin Jefferson touchdown was on a tight window throw against Texas’ 2 high structure. Burrow’s eyes are initially to his right for the corner/flat combination from Sullivan and Fournette. That was something they showed against GSU a week earlier. When the safety widens for the corner route, Burrow knows that Jefferson will win inside on the opposite safety so he brings his eyes back to the middle, sees the hole and guns it for a touchdown.

The second Jefferson touchdown was vintage Drew Brees from Joe Burrow. With his big bodied slot receivers (think Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham) Brees became a master at throwing back shoulder seam passes, especially for touchdowns. Texas is playing Cover 1 here, which is a fine coverage to defend 4 Verts (what LSU is running). Every defender has a man straight up and the safety can roam over top. With the defenders backs turned away from the quarterback, they can’t stop and locate the ball if it’s thrown behind them. All Burrow has to do is make sure the free safety stays in the middle of the field. He does and the timing and ball placement are perfect.

The Marshall touchdown is off the classic Mills concept. Todd Orlando is playing a defense right out of Dave Aranda’s playbook. It’s his Tite 4 front and coverage. To the bottom of the screen, you’re going to have the cornerback locked up on Marshall’s post route and against Jefferson in the slot, the apex’d linebacker will play underneath the route while the safety plays anything deep. The play action holds that linebacker and he allows Jefferson to get a clean release on the safety who has to honor his intermediate in breaking route. Once Burrow sees that, it’s over. He’ll take Marshall on the post against almost any defensive back in the country. The safety is compromised and now Marshall just has to win inside. He does. Touchdown.

The dagger touchdown, Jefferson’s 3rd of the night, was all about Burrow knowing Jefferson was going to get open as long as he could maneuver enough in the pocket to buy time. Texas sends 6 rushers plus the safety comes down to play man on the running back if he were to release. Burrow knows against Cover 0 (man to man no safety) that in breaking routes are the killers. The problem is that on 3rd and 17, you can’t just a run 5 yard in route. You gotta let something develop downfield. Burrow knows he’ll have Jefferson, he just waits long enough and finds a way to deliver the knockout blow.

Girl, if I’m dreaming
I’m dreaming ‘bout you
About the things
That I like to do

I could go on and on. I’m leaving out some really special Burrow completions, especially a few to Ja’Marr Chase that were ludicrous but I wanted to get into a nice scheme advantage that Brady/Ensminger found early that Texas couldn’t cope with. I think we’ll see it a lot throughout the year. It’s been good in the 2 games so far and it’s LSU’s 11 personnel bunch formation.

LSU lined up in a tight bunch 17 times (25% of all plays) and had 9 successful plays. 10 times they ran the ball and had about 5 successful plays including the late CEH touchdown.

LSU had one run concept out of this set: Duo. If you’re looking for something very NFL, this concept is it. I’m not an o-line expert but I believe that while it might look like inside zone, this is a Duo run concept. Because of Texas’ Tite front (and GSU’s last week) LSU is able to use their tight receivers to almost wash everything down and it leaves the running back 1v1 with a defensive back often.

Duo is a man blocking scheme run to the tight end side and the defensive end is blocked so quarterback doesn’t have to read him. I’ve heard people call it a power run without any pullers. Throughout the night, the running backs usually hit the play on the frontside but the touchdown came on CEH hitting it all the way to the backside.

On a lot of these calls, Ja’Marr Chase has a “gift” route as the isolated X receiver on the backside. If Burrow likes what he sees pre-snap, he can whip the ball out to Chase on the quick out.

The fun part of LSU’s bunch formation was how they were able to hit explosive plays off it in the passing game. LSU called 7 passes out of this formation. 2 of them were straight dropbacks that weren’t successful. 5 of them we’re off play action with 4 of them being big plays.

For the most part LSU wanted to use Chase to clear out the backside defender and then slide Jefferson into that vacated zone on an over route. The play action sucks the linebackers up, the go/post route by the X receiver clears out the backside and Jefferson eats up the available grass.

When Texas was able to cover Jefferson on the over route, Burrow calmly went to his next read: Marshall on the deep in.

Finally, the Tigers were able to show the same play action but flip the play and have Chase be the over runner (from a tight split alignment). Really awesome stuff from the coaching staff here.

Whether Texas turns out to be a dud or LSU loses 5 games this year, nothing will change about how I felt Saturday night about this team. This was the coming out party we’ve all been waiting for.

Don’t wake me, I’m dreaming
Girl, don’t wake me
Don’t wake me, I’m dreaming
LSU, I’m dreaming ‘bout you