So that was very boring. I had forgotten how absolutely awful cupcake games are to watch. In theory you can get excited about seeing the youth or whatever but you generally can’t form conclusions from these games unless something bad happens which means it’s all downside. Watching LSU just continue to try to force an offense made almost entirely of quick dropback passing and inside zone was pretty tough again. They tried some wrinkles but it’s pretty clear at the moment that they don’t have a ton in their back pocket besides what we’ve seen. This is just the offense. The defense looked very good but it sorta just looked like a defense that couldn’t be blocked by FCS scrubs. So, learned nothing about them.
There’s not a lot of sequence to recap here really, it wasn’t a competitive football game at any point, nor was it intended to be. LSU struggled to score relative to the expectation given their opponent, but got into the end zone a few times. Cade York boomed multiple kicks from space and McNeese got nothing going because they can’t block 4 stars. The teams traded punts a lot as well, and the game sorta just ended. I hate these games.
While they spent most of the game still running inside zone to very little effect, LSU did make some effort to shake things up schematically in the run game. They aren’t super comfortable doing it yet since they planned on leaning so heavily on IZ, but it’s good to see them recognize the issue and try to correct it. Pin and pull here on the toss. They only went under center (outside of a sneak situation) to run this, which they did a couple times, so if they don’t design something off it like a play action boot opposite the flow, DCs will sniff it out pretty quickly.
Despite the previous encouraging sign, most of the night was filled with what makes the LSU offense broken. They are not at all good at generating explosive plays, nobody believes they can run the ball, they will only protect with 5 or 6, and their OL is just awful. Here, you see the consequences of an inability to run the ball. McNeese is calling a sim pressure on 2nd and 11 because they aren’t too worried about the run. This way you end up with standard downs basically being treated like 3rd and long by the defense and that’s just a nightmare to deal with for the QB and the offensive line. A problem with being so dependent on the quick game, being so spread out and inflexible in the run game, is that teams will just drop 8 into coverage. That is how Mississippi State’s entire season fell apart last year, and why USC is struggling so mightily despite their high end talent at the skill positions. They can clog up your underneath passing windows and force you to hold the ball or force it into windows that aren’t there. An offense rooted in the drop back quick game is really defendable in the modern era of college football. The spread as we knew it, where the answers were to open defenses up, throw quick to deal with pressure, and run inside zone into the empty boxes.....it’s pretty over.
Also the line is just so bad, I mean, blocking somebody would make LSU’s insistence on empty or 6 man (with the back) protections much less of a problem.
Here was something I found encouraging. The principle of this is pretty much how you should construct a gigantic chunk of your passing game. I’m not saying it has to be this same action or anything, but using play action, taking advantage of flow, and using RPOs to scheme people open is how hyper modern offense is done at this level. If you aren’t doing stuff like this, or using a lot of play action/RPOs in general, your offense is static. The LSU offense, with its constant straight dropback passing, is static. It’s also inefficient, but that has more to do with their unwillingness to heavier protect and scheme up downfield shots (best done, btw, off of play action). You don’t have to get in the i or anything, you just have to be willing to get into 12 personnel, get into pistol so your play fakes generate more pull into the fit, protect with 7, and take shots. If you wanna generate explosive plays and be efficient, it’s gonna need to look something like this:
You can also do things like LSU did on this Boutte TD or boot action a la Kyle Shanahan to get people flowing in the wrong direction. This TD was encouraging, and they scored another on it, but things like this seem to be red zone gadgets rather than features of the offense.
As for Garrett Nussmeier, they called a better offense when he came in the game. They protected with more, they attacked downfield, they used play action and even boot action here, it was better. This is a pretty brutal read by Nussmeier, he just ignores the deep half safety and locks onto his primary, but he makes an absolute banger of a throw. If you can put him in a system next year that minimizes processing and maximizes use of his absurd arm, aggression, and solid accuracy, you can create a situation akin to the one Lane Kiffin has created with Matt Corral or Phil Longo and Sam Howell. If you put him in now, in the offense you’re currently running, it’ll go very poorly.
Deion Smith gets open here, btw, if he isn’t held. Good scheme.
Here you can really see the arm talent and accuracy at work. His read is the cornerback, if he stays low on the 8 yard in route by Bech, the window to throw the corner route should be open. The problem is that he’s just a beat late, and allows the apex (2nd from the sideline) defender to zone off and undercut it. He fits the ball into the window because he’s accurate and has a cannon, but this ball needs to get there a hair earlier, difference between a catch and an incompletion. That said, absolute rip of a throw.