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Florida Film Review: Decisive Daniels

Jayden Daniels and his receivers take a major step

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The LSU offense took a major step forward against Florida for a very simple reason; Jayden Daniels and his WRs simply played better football. While the offensive staff showed some ability to adjust a bit to all the man coverage they had been getting with some double moves and schemed releases, the offense remained broadly the same. What changed, however, was how decisive and AGGRESSIVE the QB was with the football, and all the things the WRs did to generate separation and create offense.

New Daniels

Jayden Daniels displayed a willingness to create with his arm that he hadn’t at any point this season. It was a fairly stark change to see a guy who didn’t seem to trust his protection, receivers, or concepts change that almost on a dime. Here, against a Drop-2 look, he simply waits in his clean pocket for Boutte to break the structure of his route and find space. While it’s not some incredibly difficult read or throw, it displays a major change in approach for Daniels. This is a play you make if you’re making an effort to create with your arm, not with your legs.

Again, a fairly simple play, it’s just 4 verts in the seam to the TE, but it’s a QB trusting his vision and playing decisively. Kole Taylor does a really good job as well winning inside leverage and bending into space. It’s these kinds of plays I expected to see a bit more of from the Taylors. Overall, it’s good vision and an accurate throw in a collapsing pocket, not something you’d have seen from Daniels before this week.

While a free play is hardly an indicator of decisiveness, the end-of-half TD to Jaray Jenkins gave us a glimpse into the Jayden Daniels that created significant buzz during his freshman season at Arizona State. It wasn’t because he was running around that he captured national attention, it was because of his downfield aggression and ability to create explosives in the passing game on sideline shots to Brandon Aiyuk and Frank Darby. That is the Jayden Daniels LSU needs to see if it is going to have an efficient offense. They’ve struggled as much as any team in the conference to create explosive plays but if Daniels can rediscover the magic he had as a freshman, that could change quickly. Additionally, Jaray Jenkins does a great job of generating late separation to make a play on the ball, similar to the way Ja’Marr Chase does it in the NFL.

Daniels didn’t just become more aggressive, by the end of the game he was AGGRESSIVE throwing the football. Here they have Malik Nabers on a sluggo but he’s effectively bracketed. Daniels trusts that Nabers will be able to exploit the space between the two defenders and lets it fly. He misses a difficult throw, but I like the process here. I also like to see LSU using more double moves like this to try to scheme separation. When teams try to man up their spread alignments, routes like this can punish them for it.

New Receivers

The LSU receivers played what was by far their best game of the year, and finally looked like the dominant, explosive drivers of the offense that we have expected and needed them to be. They created separation, they created at the catch point, and they created after the catch. As much as Daniels’ improved aggression made a difference, the improved play from the receivers was just as big of a factor in LSU’s offensive explosion.

Thomas Jr does a nice job getting vertical leverage on his double move. The ball is a touch late, but Thomas erases the mistake by dominating at the catch point.

Here, Kyren Lacy does a great job working into the corner’s blind spot and snapping off his comeback. Getting open on a comeback route against man is hard. Plays like this turn bad calls into good calls.

Finally, it’s nice to see Kayshon Boutte playing with some real juice again. We need him making plays like this after the catch to create more explosives.