We’re now in this weird place, after almost beating Alabama, where the games still don’t matter but we’re a little re-invested. There’s a QB controversy, a new defense entirely, and a fight for bowl eligibility. Let’s get into it.
Attacking the Blitz
LSU broke out an entire array of new pressures, particularly in the form of 0 blitzes, against Alabama. They did a good job of sniffing out Bryce Young’s hots, forcing him to hold the ball, and blowing up the play. The main weakness of 0 blitzes is simply that your corners have no help in the deep middle. The way a lot of teams have attacked 0 blitzes is by hulking up your protections and sending a people vertically into the voided area. Arkansas’ QB KJ Jefferson is certainly inflated as a passer by their QB friendly system, but he has the arm to really let it go and they have the best receiver, particularly vertically, in the whole country in Treylon Burks. Alabama neglected to take vertical shots against LSU (except for the one they did take which they scored on?!?) and punish them for putting so much on backup and 3rd string DBs. Arkansas likes to throw it vertically in Kendal Briles’ offense.
Running the ball
Arkansas’ offense is built on the run. It’s not build on the run in the way a Les Miles offense would be, but they still love to run the hell out of the football. They love their outside zone scheme particularly. The LSU defense is coming off a fantastic performance against the run, debuting different fronts, slants, and inserts to stifle Alabama’s run game. Arkansas will need to come up with solutions to what Daronte Jones throws at them or they will find themselves behind the sticks and vulnerable to exotic pressures in obvious pass situations.
How to run the football without guards
LSU has now lost both of their starting guards for this week. Arkansas’ defense is very emptied out, with a lot of light boxes in an effort to slow down more efficient passing. This has left them a bit vulnerable to the run, with teams like Ole Miss and Auburn running effectively. LSU needs something offensively here, because their dropback, spread out quick passing attack is exactly what this defense is really geared to stop. They need to be able to punish the empty boxes by running efficiently.
It looks like Garrett Nussmeier is about to get his first significant game action. He is obviously talented, but I think it’s a bit unwise to throw a true freshman into one of the worst systems in the country. Arkansas likes to drop 8 into coverage and are effective at generating turnover worthy plays from impatient QBs. Nussmeier is very much a gunslinger, so that could create some issues. If he comes out and plays really well under the adverse circumstances, It’ll be a bit of an issue he didn’t start a bit earlier, because it will mean he is very advanced.