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LSU Versus Alabama Film Study -- Crimson Tide Fight for a First Down

Reid & TR3 went head on all game. This is from the below play.
Photo via Naples News
This piece is a part of the "LSU Versus Alabama Film Study" in route to the BCS National Championship. To read the opening piece on the ultimate reason why Alabama lost to LSU, click here. Here is Part I & Part II of Alabama's first offensive drive. Here is the first installment & the second installment of the LSU offense. 

As many of you know, I am presently in New Orleans covering BCS National Championship Game for numerous outlets. Because of that, I am now going to pick out plays that I found interesting. This study won't be as precise as the other ones, but who cares. I want to go out and party. 

(Side Note: Here are a few interviews I've done so far with Alabama's Jim McElwain and DeQuan Menzie as well as syndicated radio host Paul Finebaum of the "Paul Finebaum Radio Network.")

Here we go. 

Play #21
Trent Richardson runs left for 4 yards, gets first down

This play was actually well defended by LSU, except for a few parts. Let's hit the tape. 

Because it was a third and one, defensive coordinator John Chavis lined his defense up in a 5-2-4 (5 DLs, 2 LBs & 4 DBs), this time with personnel to match the scheme. The fifth defensive lineman added to the formation was LSU defensive tackle Josh Downs. He is the defensive lineman in the middle, lined up over center. 

The benefit of running a 5-2 front is to add more beef to the middle of the defense to defend against runs between the tackles. One of it's weaknesses is defending an outside running play since the linebackers in the 5-2 are usually in a centralized location, never outside the defensive ends. 

Because the Crimson Tide was only in a one WR formation, Tyrann Mathieu (located at the bottom of the screen) was able to roam and help contain with defensive end Barkevious Mingo (defensive lineman located at bottom of the screen). The original formation had tight end Chris Underwood line up to the right. But as you can see he begins motions over to the left. This was a brilliant decision by offensive coordinator Jim McElwain because it created a numbers and matchup advantage on the other side of the ball.  

As you can see, Underwood is now stationed to the left of left tackle Barrett Jones. McElwain likes the matchup Jones has on defensive end Sam Montgomery, despite Montgomery's ability to stop the run. Montgomery had "contain" responsibilities on his side of the field before the play began. But now that the tight end is on side of the field lined up outside of him, safety Brandon Taylor now has contain. You can see that now as Taylor creeps closer to the line of scrimmage. 

Basically, now that Alabama has created this numbers advantage, they know they have a clear path to run outside, especially if Jones can flush and seal Montgomery out of the play. The funniest part of this play is that the blocking matchups were almost exactly identical to the first play of the game, which I already broke down in an earlier films study. 

As you can see off the snap, LSU fires off the ball spectacularly. All five of the LSU defensive lineman are getting push on their respective man, leaving little room to run up the middle. Unfortunately, this play is going to the outside. Montgomery is having to face a double team between Jones and Underwood. 

As you see here, LSU has an insane amount of penetration this play because of their fast and athletic defensive line, especially by Montgomery. But Jones knew since the play was going outside of him, he used Montgomery's explosiveness and aggressiveness to his advantage. Because Montgomery felt a double team to the outside of him from Underwood, he decided to keep penetrating to the inside. 

Trent Richardson sees Jones on the other side of Montgomery and trusts his own speed and Jones strength to seal off Montgomery. As we will see in this next slide, this is great patience and vision from TR3. 

As you can see in this slide, TR3 was able to run around the penetration of Montgomery. Jones does a great job of getting his butt to the playside gap (which in this case is the "C-Gap") and "sealing" off Montgomery. Like I mentioned earlier, because Baker has to play so far inside, he couldn't get out to TR3 in time.

You see tight end No. 17 Brad Smelley at the top of the screen do a great job of "kicking out" his man (who is Taylor) and getting his butt to the gap as well. Taylor had to remain to the outside of him because he has contain responsibilities on the play. You can see No. 46, LSU linebacker Kevin Minter, in the middle of the screen getting sealed inside by a Alabama offensive lineman. Minter was in the same dilema as Baker. Because he was so far inside, he couldn't get out to the play and a lineman was able to "seal him".

This wasn't the pretties blocking from Alabama, but it was cerebral and effective. They used the speed and aggressiveness of the front line of the LSU defensive against them and it payed off. 

As I mentioned in earlier film study, if a basic run play with basic blocking is perfectly blocked, it is up to the running back to make a safety miss in open field to bust it open for a big gain. Fortunately enough for LSU, they have one of the best safeties in the country in Eric Reid.  

Reid's amazing interception early in the fourth quarter has been touted by many LSU historians as one of best plays in LSU history.  But if their was a downside to the play, it was that it masked his overall brilliant performance for LSU versus Alabama, particularly in the first quarter where he had five tackles. He missed a few tackles versus TR3, but who in the Hell doesn't.

As you can see here, Reid makes a phenomenal tackle on Richardson in the open field. If the tackle is missed, TR3 gains a minimum of 10 more yards. TR3 did a great job of setting up his blocks, being patient throughout the run and getting the first down. But he didn't make the safety miss in the open field. 


Reid had a phenomenal game, probably the best of his LSU career. So did Richardson. The battle between those two was one for the ages. I can't wait to see these two clash for the BCS National Championship on Monday. 

This is another example of how important the play-side defensive end to the running game. Because McElwain loves to motion his tight ends, defensive ends have to do a better job of keeping the edge against tackles. Montgomery got great penetration, but that was because Jones tricked him and flushed him out of the play. If Montgomery attacks his outside shoulder, even with the double team from the tight end, and sits in the C-Gap, he has a chance to make a difficult play. 

In the ultimate battles of coordinators, Chavis defeated McElwain. But part of McElwain's success was when he put his tight ends in motion and still ran simple plays and blocking schemes out of it. Expect more that on Monday, especially inside the 30 yard line where Alabama so desperately struggled. 

LSU's linebackers will have to play better in this game as well. Baker and Minter didn't have good games versus Alabama and Baker has struggled lately versus Arkansas and Georgia, LSU's last two opponents. 

Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.


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