LSU football film study: Tigers physically manhandled Florida in victory

LSU’s football team asserted itself as one of the dominant teams in college football with last Saturday’s 41-11 victory against Florida. Even though the Gators were down to third string freshman quarterback Jacoby Brissett, they still have good talent at every position. but LSU took control early and the Gators were never in the game. LSU ran 24 plays in the first half and netted 24 points thanks to a pair of two-play drives.

This was an odd sight, a Florida team in such a weakened state that LSU just lined up and pushed the Gators around almost all day. out of 63 offensive plays, LSU called only 15 passes, preferring to hammer Florida with 41 sets of at least two tight ends. That led to a season high of 238 yards rushing even if you remove Brad Wing’s 44-yard jaunt on the fake punt. the Florida defense didn’t tackle well, either, and by the fourth quarter seemed to just want to go home.

Defensively, LSU knew Florida wasn’t going to try and throw much with Brissett, who had never taken a college snap. So the Tigers played mostly base defense with three linebackers and four defensive backs to cover for a lot of wildcat offense. out of 48 total plays, Florida ran 19 with either Trey Burton or Chris Rainey playing quarterback in the wildcat and had some success until LSU adjusted. Fourteen of those wildcat plays came in the first half. Florida was forced to throw in the second.

LSU was much more physical than the Gators, who became the first team to top 100 yards rushing against LSU. but they didn’t do it until the third to last play of the game with less than a minute to play. Florida ran only 14 plays in the second half, partly due to a pair of one-play drives ending in a 65-yard touchdown and an interception.

Player of the Game

Spencer Ware with 24 carries for 109 yards and two touchdowns. LSU was obviously committed to pounding the Gators and Ware did that, delivering some big hits to Florida defenders when he wasn’t roaring through gigantic holes.

Ware showed all of his wares on his longest run, an 18-yarder in the fourth quarter. Guard Will Blackwell, who had a good day, was unimpeded in seeking out the linebacker while Ware used his good footwork to step away from diving DT Jaye Howard from the right. Ware sailed through the hole and simply ran over safety Matt Elam and into the arms of two other defenders, which he carried for 5 more yards.

Ware’s second TD run, an 8-yarder was more of the same. Mitch Joseph set the outside edge to the left and when Gators LB Jon Bostic filled the hole, fullback J.C. Copeland took him out. Ware ran through an attempted tackle by Deante Saunders at the 5-yard line and took a hit at the goal line from Elam as he tumbled into the end zone.

Ware’s running symbolized LSU’s toughness. Offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa saw no need to mix in many first down passes as the Tigers threw four times on 29 first down snaps. the only troubling part is how long can he hold up. Michael Ford played two snaps and has been used very little since fumbling against Kentucky. Alfred Blue had a good game but isn’t near the physical runner Ware is. Miles said some of that was due to poor blocking, citing two occasions where blockers completely missed defenders. but my eyes tell me Ware is the only viable short-yardage back.

Offensive Play of the Game

Jump pass for a touchdown from Jordan Jefferson to Mitch Joseph. LSU Coach Les Miles afterward said “it’s not like this play has never been run before,” trying to dispel thoughts of LSU running it as chilled revenge for the Tim Tebow jump pass in the 2006 LSU-Florida game. When he says that I can see him winking inwardly.

Obviously, this was part of a two-play sequence from a formation LSU has not used previously this season. With three tight ends and two backs in the game, running back Alfred Blue motioned out of the backfield to a wide receiver spot and Jefferson lined up under center first, then backed out to take a shotgun snap. On the first play he ran into the pile, the second he stopped short and threw the pass.

There was one slight difference. On the first play the offensive line drive-blocked the Gators line trying to get a push. On the TD pass, they stood up and let the Florida line come forward slightly. both times Joseph blocked outside against Gator DT Shariff Floyd, lined up at end in goal line defense. the second time he pushed Floyd outside and then stepped inside.

With the Gators moving forward, there was no one in the end zone. Jefferson got to the line and there was no penetration, making it easy to jump up behind Josh Williford and flip the pass to Joseph. Floyd tried to get a hand up and block the pass, but was too far to the outside. It was a nice gift for Joseph, a quiet, unassuming fifth-year senior with eight career receptions and no touchdowns coming into the game.

Defensive Play of the Game

Honey Badger special, Tyrann Mathieu‘s interception. not long before Mathieu got the second of two LSU interceptions, he predicted Florida would try to go long to Andre Debose again and that he would be there. He was. It’s the fifth game of six this season that Mathieu has caused a turnover.

Mathieu was locked up with Debose one on one down the right sideline and Jacoby Brisset’s pass was slightly underthrown. Mathieu positioned himself perfectly with inside leverage on Debose, which was the easy part. Coming down with the ball was the beauty of the play. Debose went over Mathieu to try and break it up but Mathieu showed how strong his hands are by snatching the ball in traffic. Mathieu also had to survive a hit from teammate Brandon Taylor, coming over to break up the play. Taylor hit Mathieu just as he caught the ball. Simple, yet amazing.

Special teams play of the game

Brad Wing‘s 44-yard run on a fake punt on fourth-and-15 from the LSU 48. This was not a called play, Wing had the option if he saw the right circumstances. Wing probably could have run for a first down on the punt play before, which was nullified by an illegal formation penalty. Chase Clement, one of Wing’s protectors, turned and told him the play would work. Wing made the call.

Two Florida defenders lined up in front of gunner Ron Brooks on the left side of the formation, turned and ran. two Florida players – return man Chris Rainey and Chris Johnson who was lined up on the end to Wing’s right – saw the fake immediately. the rest of the Florida players turned their backs and ran.

Johnson began tracking Wing immediately across the field but Blackwell cut him off just across midfield and Wing was wide open with Clement leading the way. Rainey was hit first by Ron Brooks early in the play and then tried unsuccessfully to crash through Clement, who made the key block. Johnson kept up pursuit and was nailed on a big hit by Brooks.

Oops play

Morris Claiborne stumbles on Florida’s 65-yard touchdown pass play. Claiborne has been good on his technique and will probably leave for the NFL next season but this time couldn’t keep his balance on a play that was nearly one-third of the Gators total yards.

It was first and 10 and Claiborne had Debose man-to-man in press coverage. Gator WR Deonte Thompson was on that side also and motioned toward the ball, drawing LSU safety Brandon Taylor over. Thompson ran a streak pattern up the sideline and Claiborne was in good position. but when he turned to transition from back-pedaling to running with his back to the ball, he lost his balance and fell into Debose, pushing him out of bounds.

Florida QB Jacoby Brissett lofted the ball high, which allowed Debose time to run under it easily and score, despite being detoured. NCAA rules say a receiver can’t run out of bounds and come back in to catch a ball. the referee marked the spot Debose went out of bounds with his hat but the play stood because Claiborne forced him out of bounds.

Quarterback report

Jarrett Lee played 46 of LSU’s 62 offensive snaps and Jordan Jefferson 16. I’m not sure if that was the plan, but LSU got off to such a fast start, it probably was because the offensive coaching staff was never under any pressure.

Lee’s first throw was a beauty, especially considering he had a strong wind at his back and would have overthrown Rueben Randle on the 46-yard TD if he put too much air under it. Lee nearly had another touchdown on the next series but James Wright couldn’t come up with a diving catch.

Lee’s third pass was ugly. He tried to make a quick throw to Chase Clement before he was open in double coverage and made it flat-footed. It may have been a busted pattern because Odell Beckham Jr. was in the vicinity, drawing an extra defender there. Clement never turned to look for the ball.

Lee also made a poor throw on a bubble screen to Russell Shepard, who had to bend down low to catch the ball, which cost him time to run. but Lee atoned on the next play, a deep route to Randle for 57 yards, hitting him in stride. Lee showed some toughness and courage on that play because he got blasted head on by DT Jaye Howard just after the throw. Coaches simply didn’t ask Lee to do much with a season low 10 pass attempts.

Jefferson played much less than I thought he would but threw the ball well. He really showed me something when he hit TE DeAngelo Peterson for 22 yards on second-and-19. That pass was a laser and I know he didn’t throw one that well all of last season. the rest of his throws were short and he ran the ball four times. Give Jefferson credit on the jump pass. because it’s an unusual play, it’s easier to foul it up than one would think.


Rueben Randle had a career-high 127 receiving yards and his blocking was better than average. I think Les Miles sent him a message – one he received loud and clear – when he did not start the Kentucky game. Jarvis Landry started in a one-receiver set.

Randle came back focused and it paid off early. his touchdown route was well executed. He made an outside fake and ran inside of CB Cody Riggs straight to the end zone.

On his 57-yard catch, his strength came into play. CB Marcus Robertson tried to jam Randle at the line and Randle ran through it, causing Robertson to stumble. That gave Randle the opening he needed. It may be nitpicky, but I thought Randle could have scored had he lowered his shoulder and cut to the end zone when Elam caught up to him. Instead, he ran out of bounds at the 3-yard line.

Didja notice

Rueben Randle gave Mathieu a break on returning punts in the second quarter. but Mathieu, who sat out the preceding defensive series, was in the game on the left side and rushed the punter. Tharold Simon filled in at CB on the three plays. . . Florida defensive tackle Leon Orr fair caught a kickoff in the second quarter. . . LSU averaged one point per play in the first half, 24 plays, 24 points. . . Josh Johns, who was reinstated to the team along with Jordan Jefferson last week, played for the first time this year on LSU’s final kickoff. Terrence Magee also played, taking Claiborne’s spot at left contain. . . LSU was called for a rare illegal formation penalty on a kickoff when Claiborne had to hold the ball for kicker James Hairston because the wind kept blowing it off the tee. the formation requires at least four players on either side of the kicker and Claiborne had to kneel to Hairston’s right because Hairston is right-footed, leaving only three to his left. . . LSU broke out a new formation: one wide receivedr, three tight ends and one running back.

Skill position participation breakdown

Running backs: Spencer Ware, 36 snaps; Michael Ford, 2; Alfred Blue, 20; Terrence Magee, 3; James Stampley, 13; J.C. Copeland, 24; Kenny Hilliard, 1.

Wide receivers: Rueben Randle, 24; Odell Beckham Jr., 19; Russell Shepard, 11; Kadron Boone, 18; James Wright, 13; Jarvis Landry, 15.

Tight ends: Mitch Joseph, 31; Chase Clement, 42; DeAngelo Peterson, 24; Tyler Edwards, 4.

Formation breakdown

2WR/2TE/1RB – 20 snaps of 63

Offensive line snaps/knockdowns

LT Chris Faulk: 62 snaps, 6 knockdowns

LG Will Blackwell: 62 snaps, 10 knockdowns

C P.J. Lonergan: 23 snaps, 5.5 knockdowns

RG Josh Williford: 62 snaps, 8.5 knockdowns

RT Alex Hurst: 62 snaps, 7 knockdowns

LT Chris Davenport: 3 snaps, 0 knockdowns

C T-Bob Hebert: 39 snaps, 6 knockdowns

Note and observations

First quarter

Florida RB Chris Rainey was probably surprised at the quickness of LSU DT Michael Brockers, who ankle-tackled him from behind and he headed for a hole. . . Mathieu blew up a Florida screen pass, dropping Rainey for a 7-yard loss. Mathieu anticipated the play, making his move toward Rainey before Brissett even looked that way. . . On LSU’s first play from scrimmage, the offensive line pushed Florida’s line back 4 yards. . . Brockers showed his quickness again, roaring in behind a pulling guard to nail Jeff Demps for a 3-yard loss. . . LSU’s No. 1 Eric Reid tackled Florida’s No. 1 Rainey 1-on-1, literally and literally, after a 4-yard gain. . . Blackwell and P.J. Lonergan stacked up the Florida line like a row of dominoes for Ware to get 13. . . Chase Clement had a good day blocking, helping Alfred Blue to back-to-back gains of 13 and 11 yards. . . the hole on LSU’s second TD, a 2-yard run by Ware, was so big, Lee could have handed the another ball to FB J.C. Copeland and both would have scored. Lonergan turned his man to the left and Josh Williford buried DT Dominique Easley. . . Brisset looked poised for playing his first college game. He deftly eluded a sack by Ken Adams to make a completion. . . Rainey somehow eluded Sam Montgomery, Ryan Baker and Stefoin Francois for a 25-yard gain which was nullified by a block in the back. . .Kevin Minter made a nice play after getting knocked down. He jumped up and forced a fumble by Rainey on a 1-yard gain. . . Luke Muncie helped foil a fake punt run by Trey Burton forcing him to cut inside and then making a diving tackle with help from Brandon Taylor.

Second quarter

Tharold Simon let Rainey get outside away for a big gain by taking an inside angle after fighting off a block. most of the play was called back because of an illegal block. . . Jon Halapio pulled Lavar Edwards down for a holding penalty on the next play. . . Brisset avoided a sack by Brooks and apparently tried to overthrow his deep pass, which was intercepted by Brandon Taylor. . . Michael Ford didn’t appear to be focused on his only carry. He ran into guard Josh Williford on a cutback and played only one other snap. . . Lonergan and Chris Faulk created a huge hole on Ware’s 11-yard run. . . either Clement or Peterson, lined up on the same side, were probably supposed to block DE William Green, who roared in and forced Lee to step up and be sacked by Bostic. . . a referee swallowed his whistle and couldn’t find his flag when safety Jaylen Watkins interfered with Odell Beckham Jr. on a short pass. . . Shepard showed good running instincts after catching a short pass from Jefferson and turning it into a 37-yard gain. He went in motion left to right and pretended to block. as two defenders rushed by, Jefferson dumped the ball to him and he just ran by Saunders. . . Florida had a five-play wilcat formation sequence where it averaged 6 yards per play . . . Simon came on a corner blitz and Burton was uncovered in the flat in a coverage mixup for LSU that got Florida a first down on third and 9. . . Brisset did a good job stepping up in the pocket, with LSU CBs Simon and Claiborne blitzing from either side, to make a 14-yard completion to Frankie Hammond. . . Burton fumbled a wildcat play when he tried to fake to Mike Gillislee, who knocked the ball out of his hands. . . Mathieu made a strong one-on-one tackle to stop Burton after 4 yards. Burton appeared to have room to pick up the first down. . . Clement returned a kickoff 9 yards on the final play of the half and absolutely pancaked, Cody Riggs who was trying to make the tackle.

Third quarter

Florida DT Jaye Howard steamrolled LSU C T-Bob Hebert to stop Ware after 1 yard. . . Kenny Hilliard ran for 5 yards from the fullback spot, staying low on his only snap . . . Sam Montgomery shut off the outside for Gator backs all day and tackled Rainey after a 1 yard gain. . . LSU tried to quick snap the Gators after a first and goal at the Florida 6, but Blue only got 1 yard then a no gain on the sequence. . . Mathieu and Francois held their positions to funnel Rainey to Taylor who made the tackle after a 2-yard gain. . . Bennie Logan pushed his blocker into Halapio, who was pulling, holding Rainey to a 1-yard gain. . . Randle could have picked up more than 17 yards had he stayed outside after catching a crossing-pattern pass. He cut inside Riggs and was tackled by pursuing Gator players.

Fourth quarter

Easley ran through Williford to stop Ware for no gain on first and goal at the Gator 3 . . . Elam got some pay back on Ware with a big hit after a 1-yard gain. . . Solomon Patton came in unblocked to partially block Wing’s punt. Tahj Jones and Eric Reid double teamed Stephen Alli, who lined up inside Patton on the end. Graham Stewart and Hygens Succes came in unblocked but were picked up by Blackwell and Joseph as Patton ran past. . . Montgomery got LSU’s only sack from a standup position and despite being held by Kyle Koehne. . . Kadron Boone fought his way for 21 yards after a short reception, partly due to poor tackling by Robertson and Josh Shaw. . . Easley had his hand inside Hebert’s facemask on a Ware run for 2 yards. . . Ware was still running hard on his final carry of the game, on which he got 5 yards. . . Blue turned on the jets to outrun two defenders around the right side for 7 yards and a first down. . Faulk, Joseph and James Stampley created a solid wall of white jerseys on Blue’s 20-yard run. Blackwell turned DT Omar Hunter inside to open the way. . . Hebert took out Hunter and Blackwell took care of Howard to open a huge hole for Blue’s 2-yard TD run.


LSU football film study: Tigers physically manhandled Florida in victory

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