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Arkansas FIlm Review: Zero Dark 40

Harold Perkins hunts quarterbacks for sport.

“I must break you”

There are certain players on the defensive side of the ball who don’t necessarily fit into a specific position label. It’s hard to call them a linebacker or a DB or an edge rusher, but you know that they just play ball, make plays, and do a lot of different things. Players like Jabrill Peppers at Michigan, Micah Parsons at Penn State (and especially now in Dallas with the Cowboys), and Isaiah Simmons at Clemson come to mind. Increasingly in the modern game, we see positionless weapons of war on defense.

Harold Perkins still has some growing to do on the finer points of being an inside linebacker, like dropping to hook, sorting out run fits and leverages, and whatnot. He is, however, a playmaker and a surprisingly advanced and gifted pure edge rusher. That allows the defensive staff, while he grows as an interior linebacker, to continue to put him on the field and use him to create negative plays and attack the passer. I’ve broken these down at length, and while they didn’t necessarily change this week, Harold Perkins continues to become more explosive as he grows comfortable in his specific role.

Against Arkansas, he took over the game by living at the QB. Whether it be as a spy in their “Odd Mirror” series, a true edge rusher, or an inserter from a wide alignment, Perkins created havoc. By my personal count, which cuts through the hair-splitting semantics of backward NCAA statistics, he had 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles on Saturday.

Odd Mirror....Again

In obvious passing situations, LSU’s Odd Mirror series, which I wrote about a week ago, has become their bread and butter as Harold Perkins has emerged as the best pursuit player in the sport. Behind it, they play several different coverages which have all done a good job of forcing the QB to hold the ball and leave structure. When he does that, he gets run down. Odd Mirror is a widely used weapon to deal with scrambling QBs, but it eliminates them entirely when the spy is a player like this. Malik Hornsby is a track star, and Perkins ran him down like he was a wounded animal.

Off The Edge

These creepers from a wide SAM linebacker alignment have become a weapon for LSU, particularly in base. It does a good job of messing up angles for the offense and getting him free to the QB. It also helps seal the edge and attack boots and zone reads. Here, the QB is reading the end man on the line who stunts inside, so he keeps. The arc across the formation by the TE is supposed to clean up the SAM (Perkins) but he blows up the angle and gets a TFL.

Perkins has also continued to show incredible ability as a true standup EDGE rusher in the mold of Von Miller and TJ Watt, if slightly smaller. Late in this game, LSU broke out a nickel package with Ojulari and Perkins on either edge. He’s fairly advanced there too, with a lot of really good pass-rush technique. Here, he does his best Von Miller, and wins on a ghost move off the edge, making a great tight turn to get to the QB.

Here, he displays great bend, dip, and balance to get around the tackle and tight turn to the QB. There is no reason for LSU, going forward into next year, to try to pigeonhole him. Use him in different ways in different packages and allow him to make plays.