Look, I know that it’s UAB, and that we didn’t really learn much of anything. As a result, I’m going to keep this fairly simple and somewhat brief. All year, my primary issue with the offense has been that they don’t use enough backfield action (play-action/downfield RPOs), and are too spread out in their alignments and releases out wide, which makes them vulnerable to man-coverage and stops you from creating easy explosives in the passing game. All season, I’ve been pretty concerned about what LSU can do to get teams with great athletes out of tight coverages like Cover-1 and press quarters, and have been concerned about general efficiency in the passing game. So here, I’ll highlight a few things I liked that I want the LSU offense to build more off of and emphasize to address those issues going forward into the postseason and into next year.
I’ve called for LSU to use more deep cross concepts off hard play action to create easy explosive plays for the passing game. Here, LSU employs a concept that The Athletic’s Nate Tice has called “cross country.” It’s essentially just a post-over concept with another deep over from the opposite side. LSU gets a big play on it, even if the ball is horribly late from Daniels. This helps you against cover-1 (which UAB is not playing) because it can be hard for a DB to track the crossers all the way across the field. In cover-1, if the post safety drives on one of the overs, you can throw the post over everyone’s head. The 7-man protection keeps the pocket clean and easy for Daniels. It’s a great way to generate big plays.
Another deep crosser, but this time off of a half boot to the opposite side. This influences the 2nd level defenders horizontally away from the crossing route and opens it up against their Cover-3 look. The post S stays high on the post and the wheel runs off the down safety. More heavy protection and another easy pocket. This is exactly what I’m talking about when it comes to scheming open explosive plays, it’s a free 15+ yards here
A good way to scheme up releases against man-coverage is to align your WR in what is known as a “nasty split,” which is just a tighter alignment to the formation than being split out wide. This usually forces the corner into an off-and-outside alignment, which gives the receiver leverage on the deep crosser. Often, teams will employ a “short motion” and move the receiver from a wide split to a nasty split right before the ball is snapped. Another free 15+ yards.
Another good way to create easy, efficient offense for the passer is boot-action. If the flat defender collapses on the slide route, it opens up the comeback. Since the QB doesn’t have to worry about pressure or anything, it’s pretty easy for him to operate. You can do a ton of different things off of boot-action, with offenses like Baylor and Michigan State being good examples of units that build huge chunks of their offense out of it.
Downfield RPOs off of 2nd and 3rd level defenders are a great way to grab a free 15 yards as well. Once the MIKE LB collapses in on the run fit, it’s an easy pitch and catch on the stick route to Taylor. Like with boot-action, you can build entire offenses out of things like this and what you do off of it, keeping things easy for the QB and hard for the DC.
Tightly spaced switch releases kill man coverage. Stuff like this is how you punish it, especially in the low red zone.