Welcome to Film Room, our weekly analysis of LSU’s last football game. Have a seat. No talking. No tweeting. No texting. Pay attention.
You’ll notice our most time is spent on the first segment. After all, big plays win games – and lose them.
How They Happened (big-play analysis)
- The Badgers have two tight ends left and two receivers right. Love, starting on the right, goes in motion left, running behind the O-line and taking the handoff from QB Tanner McEvoy.
- It appears that at least one (and maybe two) LSU linebackers goof on this play. Was Lamar Louis, aligned opposite Love when the two are set, supposed to follow Love when he ran in motion? He didn’t. Meanwhile, Kwon Alexander (yellow circle), who aligns in the spot in which Love ran, stunts into the backfield at the snap.
- To make matters worse, defensive end Danielle Hunter (red) trips as Love races by him. LB D.J. Welter who’d also crept toward the line of scrimmage, failed to catch Love down field.
- Gordon gets the ball and the seas part on the right side of the line. DE Jermauria Rasco crashes down and topples Christian LaCouture in the process.
- Meanwhile, Kendell Beckwith (left circle) is just too late to the play, and Kwon Alexander (right) had stepped out to guard a slot receiver. The closest circle is Ronald Martin being kicked out.
Gordon’s dash: Melvin Gordon’s 63-yard run came on the first play of the second half and set up a TD that put the Badgers up 24-7.
- Gordon gets the handoff, starts left and then cuts to the middle of the field. D.J. Welter (circle) is blocked out by the left guard. He’s taken completely out of the play. Kwon Alexander (arrow) takes the wrong hole and gets caught up in blocks.
- Finally, LSU’s last man, safety Jalen Mills, rushes to the action too fast, leaving no one at home as a last resort.
- You wanna know what really happened though? Gordon is good, that’s what. His vision was impeccable on the play.
- The 17-yard first-down play (which you see on the right) was a read-option for QB Anthony Jennings. He gave to Hilliard, and the seas parted. Credit RG Hoko Fanaika and RT Jerald Hawkins for winning their individual battles. They parted a hole for Hilliard that’s, literally, 10-plus feet wide. The UW linebacker went after Jennings.
- On the 8-yard carry, LSU again ran behind Fanaika. He sprung Hilliard for a block and so did center Ethan Pocic, who moved to the second level and got a linebacker.
- Guess what? For a third straight down, Hilliard ran behind Fanaika. The right guard, in conjunction with Hawkins, whipped his man. UW’s linebackers, again, split to the outside for Jennings, leaving the middle wide open for Hilliard’s 28-yard TD. That play came while UW was in its nickel package.
- Coach Les Miles said afterward that the appropriate personnel weren’t on the field. Redshirt freshman John David Moore rushes onto the field at the last minute.
- Beckwith received the direct snap, faked the pitch to punter Jamie Keehn and headed left. Tackle La’el Collins and guard Vadal Alexander got the blocks, but it’s Beckwith’s last-second cut (see the red arrow) to the right that gets the necessary yard or two for the first down.
- Moore had a nice block too. It was believed to be the first play of his LSU career.
One last stand: Down four points and pinned at its own 10-yard line, Wisconsin had one last shot to drive down for a game-winning score. LSU’s defense forced a three-and-out.
- It’s worth noting that Keehn hit a spectacular punt to pin the Badgers. Punting from midfield with 2:30 left in the game, Keehn’s high punt was fair caught at the 10.
- On first down, Wisconsin’s attempt at the option failed because of LB Kwon Alexander (circle). The speedy Alexander immediately read the play. As soon as UW QB Tanner McEvoy pitched to his running back, Alexander darted in for the tackle-for-loss, stepping over his would-be blocker.
- On second down, DE Danielle Hunter created pressure to force McEvoy to throw off his back foot (an incomplete pass). On third-and-12, LSU used its Mustang package to create pressure, specifically from Dwayne Thomas. The result? Incomplete pass and a punt.
Big Ugly Blips and Booms (O-line analysis)
- The blips were everywhere, especially in the first half. At halftime, LSU had one real pancake block while tallying a total of nine missed blocks.
- LG Vadal Alexander struggled the most. He had four miscues blocking and a false start. Jerald Hawkins had three missed blocks. Hawkins came out of the game at one point. He was replaced by Evan Washington for one drive.
- In the second half, the line picked up (and so did the rushing yards) . We counted five good pancakes in the second half, three from left tackle La’el Collins. Hoko Fanaika had two good rushing blocks as well in the second half.
Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)
- We charted Anthony Jennings for about a half-dozen errant passes, at least three of them on screen passes. He had a tough time with the touch throws, but had two precise long bombs to Travin Dural and a wonderfully thrown post route to Dural, who seems to be his go-to receiver (see below).
- Jennings seemed to make good decisions on the read-option. He mostly handed it off, but he kept it at least three times and got decent yardage. Sacks brought down his net rushing yards. We only saw the option once or twice. Jennings ran it with Fournette, kept it and got a good chunk of yards.
- Jennings heaved the ball down field, up for grabs, more than anyone would want. Against a good SEC secondary, many of his long heaves would have been intercepted.
Backing it up (FB/RB analysis)
- The running backs found little daylight over the first three quarters. Finally, Kenny Hilliard had success in the fourth quarter. Don’t necessarily blame the group of tailbacks for the early woes. Wisconsin’s linebackers, sometimes, appeared to know where the play was going, and LSU’s line didn’t help much.
- Now, let’s turn to the guy everyone wants to talk about: Fournette. He rarely followed his blocks. The former No. 1 recruit in the nation, instead, jetted toward the end of the line on many of his carries. He didn’t shy away from contact, though. Problem is, neither did Wisconsin players. They stood their ground and made great tackles on the running back. They were well informed of Fournette. There was a lot of celebration after tackling him.
- FB Connor Neighbors didn’t have his best game. We charted him for three missed block and one pancake.
Five-yard Out (receiver analysis)
- Travin Dural and John Diarse certainly emerged as LSU’s top two receivers. Diarse is a strong wideout who has Jarvis Landry-ability to get yards after the catch. Dural is the deep threat, and he’s apparently the go-to person for Jennings.
- Dural, who had three catches, was targeted eight times. That’s about twice as many as the next wideout was targeted. He’s clearly a guy Jennings likes to hit, but LSU needs to spread it around more. Trey Quinn, who was in on nearly every offensive play, was targeted just 3-4 times. He caught one pass and a two-point conversion.
- The only drops came from tight ends. DeSean Smith dropped a low but catchable ball from Jennings. Travis Dickson had a drop, though it would have been a tough catch.
- The difference in the second half was one player: LB Kwon Alexander (to the right, he makes a speedy move past UW’s LG for a tackle for loss). The guy was everywhere. His speed was no match for Wisconsin’s offensive line. Alexander struggled at times in the first half (on at least two big running plays, he was blocked out). He was pulled for several series before being re-inserted in the second half. He did great things. We charted him for four “attacks” and two “pressures” in the second half. An attack is a defensive player making a great hustle play for a tackle. A pressure is pressuring the QB.
- The defensive ends – Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco – each had a three kill points (kill points are combined pressures and attacks). Outside of Alexander, they led the defense. What really helped: DC John Chavis loaded the box late, stacking eight to nine people in there to force Wisconsin to throw.
- Starting middle linebacker D.J. Welter didn’t do any fantastic things. He had at least one “attack” but was blocked out of plays, especially in the first half. Kendell Beckwith, his backup, was blocked out of at least two plays and did not register a kill point.
- Freshman Davon Godchaux saw a lot of playing time at DT, especially in the fourth quarter (10-15 snaps overall). During the TV broadcast, play-by-play man Sean McDonough said Miles compared Godchaux to Glenn Dorsey during the ESPN crew meeting with the coach the day before the game. Maybe he’s the reason we didn’t see any of Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore.
Break It Up (secondary analysis)
- The best unit on the field, despite the whiffs. This group had the most missed tackles, but that’s mostly because they had the most opportunities (not a good thing since running backs aren’t supposed to get to that level).
- At one point during the TV broadcast, McDonough mentioned that Wisconsin’s receivers were being “blanketed” by LSU’s defensive backs. Nearly every pass attempt was challenged by the unit.
- Tre’Davious White and Jalen Collins (in for suspended CB Rashard Robinson) excelled. White made a tackle after fighting off a block and falling to the ground, and Collins had multiple impressive tackles. Each had great coverage – even on completions. They forced UW QB Tanner McEvoy to be perfect – and he wasn’t more often than not.
- Safety Jalen Mills over-pursued on a few running plays, but he made up for it. He had that outstretched interception, a couple of nice tackles and he came off the edge in the Mustang, pressuring McEvoy into an interception that Ronald Marin hauled in (that’s above).