LSU was expected to fall into a post-Alabama hangover … but a trip to Fayetteville, Ark., was seemingly the remedy.
In this one, the Tigers rushing game rediscovered its form against a more vulnerable Arkansas front. Both Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice took full advantage.
We stepped into the LSU film room to take a closer look at why LSU was able to amass a whopping 390 yards on the ground against the Hogs. Fournette managed 98 yards and 3 touchdowns on 17 carries, and his understudy, Guice, accounted for 252 yards on 21 carries (both career-highs), including 2 scores.
Here’s a closer look at Guice, whose single-game yardage total was the second-highest in LSU history (behind Fournette):
This is Guice’s first carry — a 5-yard gain — but it immediately shows a level of physical dominance LSU was unable to achieve a week ago in Tiger Stadium.
J.D. Moore picks up the first would-be tackler at the line of scrimmage, but as opposed to the Alabama game, every single LSU offensive lineman is moving a defensive lineman and, more so, driving them back. It makes it even easier for Guice to pick up yards when the holes are glaring to run through.
New formations and point of attack
The game plan against ‘Bama was simple: try to run downhill between the tackles. There was success, at times, but hardly on a consistent basis.
Offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger attacked the Hogs up the middle, but also called for several runs right around tackle and to the sideline. Guice is arguably LSU’s best option at the latter style of runs.
LSU lines up in the pistol, with quarterback Danny Etling in shotgun and Guice lined up behind him. Left tackle K.J. Malone and center Ethan Pocic both pull to the left and serve as lead blockers for the sophomore running back. The rest of the line is forced to merely get in the way of Arkansas’ back-side defense, but Guice is so quick to follow his blockers and race to the edge it helps the Tigers to gain a significant amount of yards and avoid the third-and-longs that did the offense in a week ago.
What’s the rush?
OK, so back to a more traditional formation. This, of course, set up Guice’s first rushing score of the evening and pushed the Tigers’ lead to 21-0 early on in the second quarter.
Basic I-formation with Guice in the game in place of Fournette, who was hobbled on the sideline at this point. Etling drops back to deceive the defense, but instead gives it to Guice on a delayed handoff.
Arkansas’ front is trying to make a play, and Ensminger catches them overpursuing. By the time Guice has the ball in his belly, he’s already past two defensive linemen and both Pocic and Maea Teuhema have created a wall for him to run past.
This, of course, set up Guice’s first rushing score of the evening and pushed the Tigers’ lead to 21-0 early on in the second quarter.
Dominating the edge
Fournette and Guice opened the third quarter with a dominant stretch, but it was No. 5 who was a big play waiting to happen.
In their own territory, Ensminger called a simple pitch to Guice, who all night had plays attacking Arkansas around the edge. On this pitch, LSU uses an unbalanced line to the left, where the tight end, Colin Jeter, just has to get in the way of the would-be defender, and does effectively. That block springs Guice for a 30-plus-yard pickup to eventually set up LSU’s first score of the second half.
On the ensuing play, the decision is made to continue to feed Guice.
Ensminger does another great job of mixing up running plays, using misdirection to trick Arkansas on this one. Guice fakes as if he’s running to the wide part of the field (left side), but counters back and takes the handoff to the wide-open right side, where most of the Hogs defenders have gravitated toward the play side.
It’s an open lane for Guice as right tackle Toby Weathersby and Teuhema are able to move their linemen off the ball. From there, it’s up to Guice to make a defender miss, which of course, he accomplished with ease.
With 14 minutes to play, Fournette exited the game for good and Guice just topped the century mark. The difference between this game and last week’s — no fatigue in the fourth quarter.
The offensive line continued to dominate up front, and they deserve the credit for creating another glaring hole in front of Guice on this one.
LSU lines up in a tight I-formation with Moore, the fullback, shifted over the right side. There is also a wide receiver flanked close in on that side, too. Weathersby, Teuhema and Pocic all win their 1-on-1 matchups while Will Clapp is helping to prevent any back-side penetration. Moore comes right through the hole to take care of the second layer of the defense.
It’s another 10-plus-yard gain for Guice, who also manhandled an Arkansas defender once he got past the first layer of blocks. This was the running game coach Ed Orgeron was clamoring to get back to all week long.
Guice put a pin in his career night with a 96-yard run in which he received the handoff in his own end zone before exploding for the longest play from scrimmage in LSU history.
Again, credit Ensminger for mixing up formations here. LSU consistently ran toward the strong side of the formation all night and tended to attack the open side of the field.
LSU opened up the formation with two tight ends and two wide recivers flanked to the right side — the open part of the field.
The blocking was good, not great. Jeter pulled from the other side of the formation and Foster Moreau became a lead blocker from the left tight end spot.
The truth: Guice’s quick first step, vision and burst made the difference. He took an unusual route to the hole, first attacking in between the left tackle and guard before he made the smart decision to bounce it outside and race down the sideline. There wasn’t a Razorbacks defender in the stadium that could have kept pace with No. 5 on this historical run.
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