Live Blog Live updates during Les Miles’ Monday lunch press conference
Welcome to Film Room, our weekly analysis of LSU’s last football game. Have a seat. No talking. No tweeting. No texting. Pay attention.
(click photos to enlarge)
How They Happened (big-play analysis)
- In the shot above, you see that LSU has crowded the line with six defenders. Linebacker Deion Jones and safety Jalen Mills (both in blue) and Dwayne Thomas (red) are the non-linemen who have crept to the line. All of them are acting as if they’ll blitz. That, of course, won’t happen.
- What does happen: Jones and Mills drop into coverage (as you see in the photo to the right) and Thomas comes in completely free on a blitz from the edge. Thomas smacks ULM QB Pete Thomas after coming off the edge untouched. LSU rushed four guys (Thomas and three defensive linemen) against ULM’s five O-linemen but still got pressure. The Mustang doing its best.
Freshman’s big score: On third-and-one, Darrel Williams, running from the fullback position, rumbled 22 yards for a touchdown to make it 10-0.
- LSU runs to the left side of the field, where tight ends Dillon Gordon and Colin Jeter are. Both Gordon and Jeter make great blocks on the play. ULM linebacker Hunter Kissinger (arrow) picks the correct hole, but he over-pursues.
- Louisiana-Monroe has what appears to be four guys free (No. 34 and three red circles) to tackle Williams (in blue). There was one problem: Williams is a big guy. The 230-pound Williams bounces off No. 34, LB Michael Johnson, Gordon blocks one of the three circled players and the other two crash into the pileup that Gordon and Williams create.
- Gordon takes out safety Mitch Lane and Williams hits Johnson, creating a jumbled mess that Junior Williams and Bryce Ray find. Ray was fooled just enough on the play by the decoy: RB Leonard Fournette.
Fournette’s TD rumble: RB Leonard Fournette scores from 24 yards out to put LSU up 24-0, a game-sealing victory late in the third quarter.
- This play is blocked to absolute perfection. Everyone involved gets his block. That includes Vadal Alexander on the linebacker, La’el Collins on the defensive tackle and TE Dillon Gordon on the defensive end (all in red circles).
- Fournette does something we haven’t seen in the first two games: He stays patient and waits for the blocks and the hole to materialize. Fournette follows his lead blockers, which include pulling RG Evan Washington (blue circle) and FB Connor Neighbors, who gets a great block on CB Trey Caldwell.
- Fournette does the rest, out-running two Louisiana-Monroe defensive backs down the sidelines. He shows some serious speed.
Big ugly blips and booms (O-line analysis)
- It wasn’t the greatest night for the line. In fact, LSU’s offensive line has probably not lived up to its preseason hype through three games. The unit has really struggled in spots, specifically in blocking at the second level (the linebackers). They haven’t created a ton of gaping holes. It doesn’t help that defenses are loading the box.
- In the first half alone, LG Vadal Alexander had five missed blocks, and Elliott Porter had three. Porter, in his first game action of this season, finished with four missed blocks and a hold and he stepped on Anthony Jennings’ foot at one point. Alexander had a unit-leading six misses. The Tigers had five missed pass blocks, including one on tight end Colin Jeter.
- All of this is probably a bit disturbing if you’re an LSU fan – this is against Louisiana-Monroe and it’s the third game of the season.
- There was some good. La’el Collins had at least three “booms” (great blocks that sprung a run). Jeter had two booms. He’s being used a ton and has shown a great ability to run-block. TE Dillon Gordon had two booms as well.
- Here’s the bad: Jennings had two misfires and he scrambled on a third down when WR Trey Quinn appeared to be wide open (check out that photo above). He completely misses Quinn, gets flustered in the pocket and scrambles for nine yards when LSU needed 10 for a first down. Quinn ran a great deep out route for 15-plus yards. Jennings also had that interception, throwing into triple coverage.
- The good: He broke two tackles on a 22-yard scramble for a first down. It was, really, a great run. He threw his best pass of the night to John Diarse while scrambling from the pocket. Jennings seems to be best when on the move. He found Diarse hovering in a zone defense. Jennings had to throw the pass into a tight window over a defender’s head. He threw it perfect.
- There wasn’t much to grade Harris on. He had an overthrow, but he also took a busted play and turned it into a first down with a nice scamper. However, the best thing he did was show some nifty feet in the pocket while stepping up to hit Dural with a nice pass. Check it out:
— Ross Dellenger (@DellengerAdv) September 15, 2014
- There were issues here. Leonard Fournette ran to the wrong hole twice. We have one of those shots to the right. Fournette chooses to go inside instead of following lead blocker Connor Neighbors over left tackle. That’s where the hole is. That play came on a third-and-2. Fournette gained one yard.
- LSU coaches are determined to get Fournette involved as much as they can. For instance, check out this formation. Fournette aligns behind Jennings while in the shotgun. He flares out to the flats, catches a pass and uses his speed along the sideline to pick up 20 yards.
- Magee had at least one play in which he ran right into his blockers instead of waiting for a hole to open, but he had a few breakout runs. Kenny Hilliard had a solid game, including a 4-yard touchdown run in which he met a defender at the 3 and then pushed him into the end zone.
- FB Connor Neighbors had the best game of his season so far. We charted Neighbors with a whopping seven booms. Check out the photo on the right. He pushes his man 10 yards into out-of-bounds territory on Hilliard’s run to the 1.
Five-yard out (WR analysis)
- There were three drops, all coming on the second drive of the game: Connor Neighbors, Trey Quinn and John Diarse had the dropped passes. Diarse bounced back to make a great catch (the one from above on the Jennings’ scramble), and Dural had a nice snag, too.
- Malachi Dupre had an ugly missed block on the outside. He was supposed to block the cornerback on a receiver screen play for Diarse. Outside of that drop, Quinn played fine. He caught a pass, turned a screen into a big gain and had a catch over the middle on a slant.
- Meanwhile, Travin Dural played with 13 stitches above his left eye. The shot above is from ESPN’s cameras during pregame.
Front Seven (Defensive linemen and linebacker analysis)
- Complete domination. LSU’s defensive line and linebackers combined for 11 “pressures” (pressures are heat on the QB that forced a poor play). Jermauria Rasco led the charge with five pressures. He’s having an impressive season so far.
- The defensive tackles had a banner day. Christian LaCouture had one pressure and two “attacks” (a disruptive play). Freshman Davon Godchaux had a pair of attacks, too, and backup MLB Kendell Beckwith had a pair.
- We charted only two missed tackles while the starting units were in (first three and a half quarters). Both whiffs were on LB Deion Jones.
Break It Up (secondary analysis)
- Another swarming day. This unit benefited from a defensive line that won the line of scrimmage. Ronald Martin might have had his best game, and Jalen Mills had at least one attack. Freshman Jamal Adams had an attack on a great run-stuffing tackle.
- Whenever Pete Thomas did find time to throw, the DBs were closely on their men. No separation at all.
How I Voted will be a weekly blog in which Ross Dellenger reveals his AP Top 25 voting with a blurb on each explaining that team’s ranking.
1. Florida State
8. LSU (UP 1)
9. Notre Dame (UP 1)
10. Ole Miss (UP 1)
11. Missouri (UP 1)
12. Texas A&M (UP 3)
13. Kansas State (Up 1)
14. Georgia (DOWN 6)
15. Arizona State (UP 1)
16. Nebraska (UP 1)
17. South Carolina (UP 3)
18. Michigan State (UP 1)
19. Ohio State (UP 2)
20. Southern Cal (DOWN 7)
21. Stanford (DOWN 3)
22. North Carolina
- Others considered: Florida, Brigham Young, Mississippi State
- Biggest jump: Texas A&M and South Carolina (three spots)
- Biggest fall: Southern Cal (seven spots)
- Questionable move: Stanford won but dropped three spots. The Cardinal was hurt by Southern Cal’s loss to Boston College. Southern Cal won at Stanford last week.
The Game Story
True freshmen running backs Darrel Williams and Leonard Fournette combined to score three of their team’s four touchdowns and the No. 9 Tigers were suffocating on defense in a 31-0 victory Saturday over UL-Monroe at Tiger Stadium.
Fournette led LSU’s rushing attack for the second consecutive game with 10 rushes for 52 yards, including a 24-yard scoring run late in the third quarter.
The Turning Point
Louisiana-Monroe didn’t crack the 100-yard mark in the game, but the Tigers only led 10-0 midway through the third quarter before freshman RB Darrel Williams’ 1-yard touchdown plunge gave the Tigers some space. Overcoming a 17-point lead against LSU’s defense seemed an impossible feat Saturday.
- RB Darrel Williams: The rookie had two touchdowns, both from the fullback position. Coach Les Miles said in post-game interviews that Williams has been learning both positions. He runs like a fullback too – right over people. He finished with 37 yards on seven carries.
- LB Duke Riley: Riley got his first career start, replacing Lamar Louis, and he led the Tigers in tackles with eight. He and Deion Jones filled in for Louis and Alexander, who were held out as a precaution. Alexander is recovering from a shoulder stinger. Louis’ injury is unclear.
- DE Jermauria Rasco: Rasco had the game’s only sack and he had multiple quarterback hurries. He and the Tigers defensive line caused ULM quarterback Pete Thomas to go 16-of-33 for just 77 yards.
- No Alexander, Louis: We all knew that LBs Kwon Alexander and Lamar Louis were injured in some way after DT Trey Lealaimatafao tweeted a photo of them not practicing earlier this week, but they didn’t play at all, a surprise. No worries, though, Duke Riley and Deion Jones played well in their place.
- Fournette again: For a second straight week, true freshman running back Leonard Fournette led the Tigers in rushing. We all knew Fournette would be a big part of the game play, but the leading rusher in Game 2 and Game 3? That’s surprising. All four of the Tigers running backs had at least 37 yards, but Fournette led them all with 52 yards on 10 carries.
The Key Matchup
- LSU’s D-line vs. ULM’s O-line: The Tigers dominated the line of scrimmage. They pressured QB Pete Thomas enough so that he didn’t complete many long passes. ULM ran for 16 yards.
- 93: ULM’s total offensive yards
- 31: Consecutive drives in which LSU has not allowed a score
- 219: LSU rushing yards
“I think we’re in a position now to take on a very quality opponent, Mississippi State.” – LSU coach Les Miles
- Follow our updates during the game here.
- 5:30 p.m.: Elliott Porter was taking snaps with the No. 1 group at center, and Jalen Collins was working with the starters at cornerback while Rashard Robinson ran with the second group. Travin Dural was also running with the starters at receiver.
- 5:20 p.m.: Stokes has made it on the field.
- 5:08 p.m.: Tight end Logan Stokes is not on the field warming up with the other tight ends. Stokes was seen earlier this week in a walking boot on his foot.
- 5 p.m.: Ethan Pocic, who suffered a sprained ankle in the win over Sam Houston last week, is fully dressed out and warming up with other offensive linemen. Elliott Porter, expected to start, is also fully dressed out and warming up. Porter was suspended for the last two games.
- 4:55 p.m.: Travin Dural ran onto the field with the returners. He’s in full pads and has his helmet on.
- 4:40 p.m.: WR Travin Dural is not out there warming up with other receivers.
- 4:35 p.m.: LB Kwon Alexander was seen warming up with other players. He didn’t play much last week because of a shoulder stinger. He missed at least one practice this week. LB Lamar Louis also went through warmups. He missed at least one practice this week.
- 4:25 p.m.: Defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao is on the field for warmups. He began practice this week after recovering from an arm injury he suffered over the summer when he punched through a window. Fullback Connor Neighbors was also spotted – without a giant club on his right hand, which he wore last week for a wrist sprain.
- 3:40 p.m.: LSU’s depth chart shows only two minor changes to the one we received earlier this week: There is no “OR” at right guard, where Hoko Fanaika appears to have the spot secured over Evan Washington. Also, tight end Logan Stokes dropped from No. 2 on the depth chart to No. 3/4. Stokes was seen earlier this week in a walking boot. Here’s a shot of the depth charts:
- Match: No. 10 LSU (2-0) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (2-0)
- TDP: 6 p.m., Saturday, Tiger Stadium
- TV: ESPNU (Clay Matvick, Anthony Becht, Dawn Davenport)
- Series Record: LSU 2-0
Players To Watch (LSU)
- QB Anthony Jennings: Jennings gets his last shot before SEC play to show that he’s LSU’s unquestioned QB. He’s tightened his grip on the job, but that doesn’t mean freshman Brandon Harris won’t get some significant snaps. He’s still on the chase.
- WR Malachi Dupre: The freshman got his first collegiate action last week, catching two passes (both from Harris) and scoring a touchdown. But can he and Jennings find a connection? That may be necessary with Travin Dural injured.
- LB Kwon Alexander: The junior saw just two to three series of playing time against Sam Houston State because of a shoulder stinger. How much he’ll play against ULM is uncertain, but Alexander is a key piece to the Tigers’ defense.
Players To Watch (Louisiana-Monroe)
- NT Gerrad Johnson: Monroe’s 280-pound nose tackle had 56 tackles, 11 for loss, last season. He’s a preseason consensus All-Sun Belt player who has 1.5 sacks and 11 tackles through two games this year.
- QB Pete Thomas: Thomas is on his third school in three years, finally finding a home in north Louisiana after signing with Colorado State as a four-star recruit and then transferring to NC State. He’s completed 55 percent of his passes for 573 yards.
- RB Centarius Donald: A 223-pound fifth-year senior, Donald is averaging five yards a carry through two games. His 228 yards this year is more than half of his total as a reserve last year.
- LSU’s O-line vs. ULM’s 3-4 front: The Tigers offensive line has not lived up to preseason expectation level. But the unit returns one of its senior leaders. Elliott Porter returns from a two-game suspension, and look for Evan Washington to see a lot of playing time.
- QB Pete Thomas vs. LSU’s DBs: Thomas has passing skills, but he makes mistakes. Against the Tigers secondary, mistakes can be turned into nightmares. CB Rashard Robinson is likely to see substantial playing time in his first real test of 2013.
How They Win
- LSU: The Tigers get a bigger challenge than last week against Sam Houston, but the goal is the same – just don’t screw up. If LSU doesn’t have many turnovers, the squad should pull away and easily outlast the Warhawks.
- UL-Monroe: The Warhawks need some LSU turnovers. More so, they’ve got to have Pete Thomas play well and that means running the ball effectively against a stiff LSU defense.
- Best win: 17-0 vs. Wake Forest
- Worst loss: None
- Sagarin strength of schedule: 150
- Record vs. Sagarin Top 30: 0-0
- 2010: LSU 51-0
- 2003: LSU 49-7
Longest Win Streaks
- LSU 2 (2003-2010)
- LSU 51-0
Saturday’s game against UL-Monroe will be LSU’s first against an in-state opponent since a 49-3 victory over Northwestern State in 2011. Here’s a look back at five of LSU’s most memorable games against in-state teams:
Aug. 30, 2003 – LSU 49, UL-Monroe 7: The Tigers aren’t among the preseason national title contenders at No. 14 in the preseason AP poll, but make a statement in their soggy season opener. Matt Mauck throws three touchdown passes in the last 6:37 before halftime to lead the first win of a 13-1 campaign that ends with a BCS championship.
Dec. 1, 1973 – Tulane 14, LSU 0: The Tigers haven’t lost to the Green Wave since 1948, but before a record crowd of 86,598 in old Tulane Stadium, the Wave puts an emphatic end to a quarter-century of frustration. Terry Looney’s 36-yard TD pass to Darwin Willie with :19 left before halftime is the only score Tulane needs.
Nov. 26, 1949 – LSU 21, Tulane 0: The Green Wave had already clinched the SEC championship, but Gaynell Tinsley’s Tigers pull a stunning upset at Tulane Stadium to earn a Sugar Bowl berth against Oklahoma, avenging a 46-0 rout by Tulane a year earlier at Tiger Stadium.
Nov. 22, 1958 – LSU 62, Tulane 0: LSU comes into this game 9-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country, needing to topple the Green Wave to win its first modern national championship (trophies were awarded before bowls then). The Tigers lead only 6-0 at halftime but swamp the Wave with a 35-point fourth quarter. Remarkably, LSU would also beat Tulane 62-0 in 1961 and 1965.
Nov. 21, 1936 – LSU 93, Southwestern Louisiana 0: The first game presided over by LSU’s live Bengal tiger mascot, Mike I, is a 14-touchdown score fest that still stands the most lopsided victory in LSU history. The Tigers finish 9-0-1 in the regular season and No. 2 in the first Associated Press poll behind 7-1 Minnesota.
9 a.m. LSU SportShop opens
10:30 a.m. LSU Legends at Andonie Museum
Noon Ticket office opens
1:30 p.m. Tiger One Village opens (front of PMAC)
2 p.m. 9 Volt performs Zatarain’s Tiger One Village
2p.m. L-Club Tailgate (Legends Club at PMAC)
2:30p.m. TAF Tailgate Party (PMAC)
3 p.m. Club level and Suites open at Tiger Stadium
3:15 p.m. LSU Student gates open at Tiger Stadium
3:30 p.m. All remaining gates open at Tiger Stadium
3:50 p.m. LSU walks down “Victory Hill”
4:05 p.m. Mike VI comes down Victory Hill
4:10 p.m. Band comes down Victory Hill
5:27 p.m. Mike the Tiger and LSU Cheerleaders field parade
5:44 p.m. Guest Captain Presentation (Bo Campbell, Doug Boutte)
5:45p.m. Golden Band from Tigerland takes the field for pregame
5:50 p.m. Alma Mater and National Anthem
5:56 LSU intro video
5:58 p.m. LSU takes the field
5:59 p.m. ULM takes the field
5:59 p.m. Coin toss at midfield
6:02 p.m. Kickoff: LSU vs. ULM on ESPNU
Dusty Thibodeaux was more than happy to oblige our request for a Q&A. Dusty knows all things Louisiana-Monroe.
1. ULM QB Pete Thomas was a major college talent and a four-star recruit coming out of high school, but he’s at his third school in three years. What can LSU fans expect from this former ColoradoState signee?
His road to Monroe, La has definitely had some twists and turns. He was originally an ArizonaState commit, before flipping to Colorado St. A coaching change there led him to NC State, where another coaching change and an early graduation allowed him to test the fifth year market; committing to the Warhawks for 2014. Thomas is a leader on and off the field and is a guy that came into the ULM program to win a championship.
He pushed the receivers throughout the summer in conditioning and 7-on-7 drills to get timing and the playbook down with them. Now he’s taking advantage of every rep in practice to get better and make sure everyone is on the same page to make every play count.
2. How dangerous is punter returner and receiver Rashon Ceasar?
Ceaser has big play capabilities, but facing an injury in the season opener, it’s not known just how effective he will be this week. Last week against Idaho he was able to just fair catch punts, though he was facing one of the nation’s best punters in the nation. I think only the progression of the season will really show if the injury lingers on or if he can return to being the key receiver and play maker that he’s expected to be.
3. ULM had to replace two starters on an offensive line that struggled, somewhat, a year ago. How is that unit playing?
The line lost Josh Allen and Jon Fisher, both four year starters, from last year. The biggest concern coming into this season was at center, and snaps in the spring and early parts of fall camp were an issue. Since that time, Matt Oubre and Colby Mitchell have settled into the role and have played well there.
4. If there’s one thing that ULM must do really well to win this game, what is it?
Two things they really need to do, one on each side of the ball – move it offensively and not surrender the big play on defense. In the last meeting, 2010, the Warhawks found themselves down on the scoreboard, but leading in nearly every statistical category.
The reason for the lopsided score was the inability to stop LSU from having big play after big play. The ULM secondary in particular is more mature now than they were then, so they should be able to contain the Tiger receivers, but will have to get good pressure from the defensive front to help with this.
5. What’s the strength of the ULM defense and what’s a spot LSU could exploit?
The 3-3-5 scheme implemented by defensive coordinator Troy Reffett is best described as organized chaos, with lots of movement and blitzes from all angles.
While this is great when able to apply backfield pressure, it leaves the defensive backs on islands and exposed. This has been the downfall of the Warhawks over the past few seasons, as young and inexperienced players have been exposed over and over again. While they are now more mature, the nature of the scheme though leaves it as the biggest weakness.
6. LSU may play both quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris. How does ULM plan to defend each?
Both are solid QBs, with both having great arms to air it out. The biggest difference I see as to how the Warhawks might approach them, is that Jennings has a bit more experience, leading me to believe the defense will ease back to try and force him to make a play happen. With Harris, his youth and inexperience could lead to a more aggressive defense that attempts to rattle his psyche and confidence via different looks and blitzes.