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What To Watch For: Ole Miss

Stop the run, and stop what they do when you try to do that. Seems easy right?

NCAA Football: Auburn at Mississippi Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

This is a HUGE game for all involved. Ole Miss is undefeated, in the top, 10, and riding high. LSU is 5-2 with a chance for a statement home win. Let’s get into it.

When LSU has the ball

More diversity in the run game.

Ole Miss, defensively, likes to play the kinds of odd (3 down with a 0 technique) front structures, which are designed to plug interior gaps and take away inside-zone. The problem is that LSU leans very heavily on it. It’s very important for LSU to get better at attacking the perimeter in the run game, and run-blocking a broader variety of concepts in general.

Building on last week

Simply put, it’s essential that Jayden Daniels and the WR group continue to build on what they did last week. They need to create explosive plays because this isn’t an offense that really designs them up. Ole Miss may score, so they need to have a similar game to last week to keep up.

Picking up pressure

It was really the OL alone that ruined LSU’s offensive game against Tennessee. Ole Miss does a lot of stuff to scheme up pressure and stress your protections both in assignment and execution. LSU’s gotta keep pockets clean like it did against Florida.

When Ole Miss has the ball

Fitting the run

I think it’s time to talk about LSU’s run defense because frankly, it is just not what it needs to be. Make no mistake, Matt House’s defense is pretty perfectly schemed to me. I absolutely love it and I think it does a great job accounting for things it needs to account for. The thing holding LSU back from being one of the nation’s 10-15 best defenses is simply their soundness in run-fit assignments and tackling. Nowhere is this clearer than in the run game. Far too often there is uncertainty about gap assignments, resulting in people out of their fit, creating lanes to run through. Additionally, when you aren’t certain about your assignments in the run game, you aren’t able to play fast, and when you can’t play fast, you can’t beat blocks and make plays. Ole Miss has a very diverse, well deployed run game that is effective on both zone schemes like inside zone, and a ton of different gap schemes like counter, trap, power, etc. This week in practice needed to be something special to get them to the level they need to be in run D with an opponent like that. They also struggle to tackle far more than they should, which is an issue period, but is frightening when you have to tackle players like Zach Evans and Quinshon Judkins. Broadly, Ole Miss has really changed their offensive approach this year to be more condensed, more diverse in the run game, and more dependant on the run game. Simply, they are one of the premiere rushing teams in the country; they carry a lot and they execute everything well. Against teams like Florida, LSU’s run D fundamentals are merely a nuisance and something holding them back from dominance, against Ole Miss, it can be fatally ripped open.

Conflict resolution

The entire design of this Ole Miss offense is to create massive amounts of conflict. They live mostly in 11 personnel, run the ball extremely well from it, and create explosives on deep crossing routes on play-action. From the same personnel grouping, they can also spread you out and RPO your second level defenders. It’s all fairly easy on the QB as well, with very little straight dropback for him to operate.

-If you try to deal with their run game by playing in base (which Brian Kelly mentioned as a possibility this week to get. Harold Perkins on the field, a mistake, imo, do not play base this week), you’re outmatched in your coverage personnel, as they have 3 wide receivers on the field and can throw the ball downfield on PA from tight bunches or spread you out and put your LBs in conflict in space in the RPO game. They also like to run more air-raid style deep cross concepts (either with a frontside out route or a bubble screen to pull the frontside flat defender down and away from the crosser) from spread looks so if you’re in base against 11 personnel, that’s gonna be really tough to deal with.

-If you try to deal with their run game by spinning a safety down to account for every gap and play single-high, they will hit you with multiple shot concepts off play-action. Their receivers are excellent too.

-If you try to play nickel and stay in 2-high, they will just run the ball down your throat as you will be short at least one gap. A lot of times they will live in these tight bunches with their WRs to create extra gaps in the run game and allow for a greater diversity of run tags. It’s hard to stay in 2-high against them when they can rush for 500 yards.

Hope House has an answer because I kinda do not. Hope we’re just more talented