(Sorry for the delay on this, I had the flu and couldn’t do much of anything)
Initially, it really appeared that LSU got off to a bad start, made massive adjustments, and were able to shut Ole Miss down because of that.
That wasn’t entirely the case. If I had to really summarize what happened, it was that Ole Miss just stopped connecting on their chunk plays and stopped getting bailed out by penalties. LSU did a great job stopping the run game, so when they started missing on their downfield play-action stuff, they had no way to stay efficient on early downs. With LSU’s Run D, which won mostly by simply winning in the trenches, forcing them into passing downs, Jaxson Dart was simply out of his element and the House’s defense was able to get aggressive and creative in forcing the issue for him.
Winning on Standard Downs
LSU was able to do a great job keeping the Ole Miss offense inefficient on standard downs simply by winning up front and making plays against the run. Just good old fashioned beating blockers and making tackles.
When you run from 4 open looks, you can be vulnerable to run thrus that create TFLs. LSU uses a simulated pressure from the 2nd level to get downhill through the line to make a play and put them behind in the sticks. The nose occupies the center and guard, creating a lane for the inserter to make a play.
Here, Harold Perkins does an excellent job getting outside his blocker and running the ballcarrier down. Additionally, the corner does a nice job on what is known as a “crack replace.” With the WR cracking down to the S, he replaces him and gets in on the tackle.
All told, LSU did a great, great job defending the run on early downs, which forced them into obvious passing situations, where they could really make the QB uncomfortable.
Winning on Passing Downs: The Dance of the Dragons
LSU’s domination up front continued on passing downs, where they used their DRAGON package (2-3-6 with their best rushers) to get their best pass rushers on the field and create havoc without blitzing. They alIgn in a BOSS (big on same side) front which creates 1 on 1s for Ojulari, Roy, and Wingo. Ojulari cleans the guard with a swipe and gets to the QB, forcing an incompletion.
LSU also utilized DL games to force the OL to communicate and generate pressure without sending extra bodies. Here, they execute a double TEX stunt. The lack of extra rushers triggers the back to check-release, which means nobody is there to clean up Perkins if he gets through, which he does. Wingo does an excellent job locking up the guard and preventing them from passing this off and picking up the stunt.
Once again they come out in DRAGON. The mug LB drops out into the flat to confuse QB as the field safety buzzes down late to take away his second option and forces him to hold the ball and take sack by Wingo on TEX stunt. Good job using rotations and picture changes to confuse 2 and allow the rush to get home.
One concept, which I think has a lot of utility against Alabama, that LSU has gotten a lot of mileage out of lately in DRAGON is “Odd Mirror 5.”
The concept is basically 2-man on the back end with a 3 man rush and a spy. The concept is great on passing downs because it plays tight to routes and forces tight windows/funnels to help, but eliminates the weakness of Cover 5, or 2-Man, by putting a spy on QB. In 2-man, everyone’s back is turned to the QB and that makes the defense vulnerable to scrambles. Perkins’ athleticism and tackling ability makes him a fantastic spy.
Harold Perkins has been all over the previous categories, but they used him in a fairly unique way against Ole Miss. Against 4 wide looks, they would split him out very wide off the edge and use his speed to rush from that alignment. What this does is create a ton of space for him to rush into. They were successful in getting him free off the edge from this look multiple times. Here he is blowing up a boot.
The width hides him from the OL and also would prevent the tackle from getting wide enough on a guy that fast in that much space even if they were wise to it. It creates great rush angles. They get him free here and force Dart into a near disaster.