Jack Mashburn for President
Less than 24 hours before the Ed Orgeron news captured the attention of the LSU fanbase, LSU beat a top 20 team in a wildly fun football game. I regret that the Ed Orgeron stuff has clouded our enjoyment of beating Florida A G A I N with a terrible LSU team beset by injuries and adversity. AGAIN!!! IT HAPPENED AGAIN!!! LOL!
I spent so much of my LSU energy yesterday thinking about Orgeron’s downfall and potential replacements and that sucks. That sucks because LSU won a fun football game that sent Florida’s fanbase into absolute disarray and made Dan Mullen look like an ass for keeping Todd Grantham. That’s fun! We should be having fun with that! So allow this to be a bit of a re-orientation into the very fun Saturday we all had before the un-fun Sunday rained on it.
The game started with LSU punting after five plays, not exactly inspiring stuff. Florida went a quick three and out to give it right back. Then, LSU went three and out right back, so a start to this game that was not reflective of the rest of it.
Florida opened the scoring with a touchdown drive culminating in a Dameon Pierce run. LSU went three and out again and it looked like the route was about to begin. Luckily, Florida went three and out themselves. Max Johnson and Ty Davis-Price answered it by driving LSU down for a touchdown to tie it. The teams traded punts from there, but when Florida got it back, Emory Jones was picked off on a tipped ball by Micah Baskerville, who returned it for a cool 54 yards to set LSU up.
In one play, Johnson cashed in with the first of three Jaray Jenkins touchdowns. Florida IMMEDIATELY threw another pick, this one by alternate QB Anthony Richardson. LSU cashed it in for another Jenkins score. The teams then traded punts, with LSU’s possession having two big plays wiped out for penalties, including a 50-yard completion to Brian Thomas Jr. on a gorgeous switch release post/wheel concept that I’d like to see a lot more of. That sour note was compounded by Florida cashing in a Hail Mary at the end of the half to make it 21-13 LSU instead of the blowout it could have been.
That sour note, however, was undone the moment the second half started, as Emory Jones threw a pick-6 to Dwight McGlothern. Florida followed it up with a touchdown drive after benching Emory Jones, but LSU struck back with a 40-yard touchdown run by Ty Davis-Price. Florida hit back with a touchdown of their own. Then, in the last possession they really threw the ball (before a later touchdown on fourth and goal), LSU went three and out. Florida then struck with a touchdown to tie the game. LSU never looked back, they rode Ty Davis-Price all the way to the end zone. They gave a touchdown back to Florida to tie it, but then LSU went down to the goal line and hit Jaray Jenkins on a ballsy fourth and goal call. Richardson then threw an interception to Damone Clark and it was over. Tigers win, somehow.
Before we get into the meat of this, I am not really going to go into LSU’s issues with play action pop passes and wheels. I’ve done it before, it’s the same problem, it’s all in my Kentucky post game review. The defense isn’t changing at this point so it is what it is.
I do, however, want to highlight a fantastic game by BJ Ojulari. He had his best game of the year, putting Florida’s left tackle in absolute hell for a lot of the game. First you see an absolutely filthy spin move he uses to blow the play up, and the second you see a false step to the outside and an inside move to beat the tackle clean and get the sack. I still think he’s too small to be a great 4-down defensive end, but if LSU gets a head coach or defensive coordinator who will use him as a standup edge rusher, or at least use him flexibly between hand in the dirt and standing up (like Georgia and Alabama use their edge rushers), I think we’ll see a massive breakout from him next season.
Counter vs Tite
Before reading the rest of this, you should read my piece from July about gap schemes against the tite front. That is a useful primer on what we FINALLY saw on Saturday.
Todd Grantham’s gameplan was pretty simple, and sound in theory at the onset. LSU’s run game for much of the year has been to spread you out in 3 and 4-wide sets and run inside zone into the empty boxes, so he would get into the tite front and take away inside zone, destroying LSU’s run game the same way UCLA was able to. Teams have also benefitted from LSU’s previous inability to block literally anybody. Jake Peetz, to his credit, has finally figured this out the last couple of weeks. This is mostly a college phenomenon, so it’s not crazy for him to be behind the 8 ball on this having spent the last few years in the NFL.
LSU ran two variations of counter, they ran this GY counter a few times, with the guard and tight end pulling. Here you see Ed Ingram on the kickout of the overhang defender with Jack Mashburn cleaning up the linebacker.
The one they really ran a lot is this GT (guard and tackle pulling) Counter with the TE faking an arc block to the outside to widen the edge defender for the pulling guard’s kickout. After the fake, Mashburn, who had such an unbelievable game it’s crazy, would climb to the second level and take out the safety coming down in run support. This is how LSU adjusted to Florida bringing down that extra defender into the fit. Gorgeous. Todd Grantham spent almost the entire game lining up in the tite front. They did some things to try different DL slants after the snap at times but the structure remained generally the same, and LSU SPAMMED this variant of GT counter over and over and over against it as Grantham refused to adjust. It ruled.
One thing LSU did a good job of was concealing the direction of their runs. A lot of times if you aren’t careful, teams can key into your run direction based on tight end alignment and start run blitzing the path of the running back. Between mixing in their GY counter and frequently motioning Mashburn, either from out wide, from side to side, etc, they did a good job keeping Florida honest and not being static. They would also motion the back from side to side as well in an effort to do this. Really good stuff. They obviously worked their gap schemes hard after the Auburn game and it’s really paid off. Good for them.
All Hail Jack Mashburn. The savior of the LSU run game (for now, Alabama and A&M are still on the schedule).