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Post Game Review: Arkansas

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Gus Stark, LSU athletics

Winning is fun. Most importantly, it was great to see the team gut out a win in a tight situation. This team has had effort problems all year and while they still didn’t look like a good team, there were no effort problems on Saturday. That alone is great to see, and it was great to see it rewarded with a win. Once again, shoutout to Terrace Marshall for his midweek address to the team.

Recap

The game started with three punts, with LSU’s defense getting consecutive stops against all odds. LSU got the offense moving a little bit before kicking a field goal to go up 3-0. The defense then forced another punt.

LSU punted back to Arkansas who made it 7-3 on a long touchdown to Treylon Burks. LSU answered with a touchdown of their own to Racey McMath to make it 10-7. Arkansas then went three and out. LSU proceeded to lose two fumbles on one possession with the second counting. It was cool though because Arkansas went three and out again, but LSU went answered with a three and out of their own.

Arkansas then threw an interception that Jabril Cox returned to the one, which LSU would punch in immediately after to make it 17-7. Arkansas struck back to make it 17-14, but LSU would hit a field goal to make it 20-14 at the half.

The second half started the way the first one did, with three straight punts, two by LSU. Then, Arkansas scored a touchdown to take a 21-20 lead. LSU couldn’t respond, instead going—once again—three and out. Arkansas added a field goal to extend its lead, 24-20. The teams traded punts before LSU went ahead late with a Jaray Jenkins touchdown catch after the idiot refs stole one from Ty Davis-Price. Jay Ward blocked a field goal to seal it, 27-24 LSU.

Film Review

So this was by far the best defensive performance of the season excluding Vanderbilt who is horrible (Florida your defense needs serious work, too). Limited the coverage busts to one or two, excellent in their run fits where they’d been so awful. Really good stuff relatively speaking.

This was the only egregious bust. It looks like Cordale Flott thought they were playing a switch and Derek Stingley had other ideas, thinking it was just straight man-to-man. Fewer busts this week, but it’s still clear this is a shakily installed defense.

After losing Ricks to targeting and Stingley to injury, the rest of the damage to LSU’s defense basically occurred on these four plays. Not busts, simply backup corners getting slightly beat and the quarterback dropping absolute dimes. Even with the corners getting beat, the odds are usually against a non elite quarterback connecting on all four of these. Hats off to Franks, who has become a solid quarterback, but I’m not losing sleep over this; this game isn’t nearly as close if LSU has Stingley and Ricks. A good defensive performance all in all.

LSU is really holding TJ Finley’s hand and they’ve used their doubles, or 3-verts concept off play action to do this in a lot of situations. It’s a simple read for the quarterback and doesn’t take any complex post-snap processing, which Finley struggles with.

Finley simply identifies which option he likes pre-snap. The outside receivers either head deep against tighter coverage or stop and come back if there’s a cushion. The inside receiver heads straight deep and splits the safeties if they’re in a split safety look or bends his route if they are in single high or cover 3. That actually sometimes even happens against split safety looks if one of the safeties is over top of where he’d head vertically. It’s up to the receiver really, but that’s the general rule of thumb.

The play action holds the backers underneath and the heavy protection gives him time to process and potentially work off his pre-snap primary if need be. Finley doesn’t usually do that, he just kinda picks one pre-snap and throws to him in rhythm. The second one is actually sketchy quarterbacking, Finley needs to throw right off the play fake with the field safety in position to break on the route. Instead, he takes a hitch step and gets Boutte killed.

Finley gets screwed

In this section of the film room, I’d like to highlight TJ Finley’s four best plays of the game. All of his top four plays—all of them—were wiped out due to drops, ref malfeasance, and a stupid holding call.

This is just a terrific back shoulder ball that Jenkins drops. Team drops a lot of passes, stop doing that.

Given how obsessed I am with Arik Gilbert, this one bugs me. This would have been an awesome highlight. It does show how devastating he is to match up with. Here, at 250 pounds, he just scalds a corner. Great quarterbacking by Finley, too. The safety is on that hash so he has to be held there or he blows this up. Finley does a great job holding him with his eyes and putting this right on the money. This was a walk in touchdown and something I’d have watched a million times. Tough one.

Shanahan didn’t have to do this. Great job sliding up and putting it into a tight window on the run.

Send the refs to jail. What a dime, this would have been a much prettier game winner.