Welcome back to Frogs O' War Video Rewind where HawkeyedFrog has (temporarily) stopped writing pieces on crazy conspiracy theories to beat LSU in order to get down to the nitty gritty film review. If you're new to the series, this is where we break down video of the Frogs previous game (or upcoming opponent) in an effort to better understand what we saw and what we expect to see in future games. This week we'll be going through some key plays, both good and bad, for the Frogs against LSU.
What went wrong #1: No pass rush without blitzing
It's not hyperbole to say that this is a very different game with Devonte Fields playing, so I hope that watching the TCU pass rush without him teaches the Big 12's defensive player of the year about responsibility. To illustrate what a little pressure might have accomplished, here's LSU's first key play. LSU had just completed their first third and long of the game, a grim omen of things to come, and they line up in an offset I formation with a tight end and twin receivers to the left. TCU is in the 4-2-5 with Verrett moving over to line up over the inside receiver.
LSU is running play action, faking the handoff right in a not very convincing fashion. The majority of TCU's secondary isn't biting as they continue to backpedal up top, but Sam Carter and the defensive ends hesitate while DTs Hunter and Pierson create a huge mess of bodies inside.
The fake is done, and Carter turns to try and catch up with the receivers, meanwhile #40 James McFarland- the bottom most TCU player finally begins to move forward, while Koontz is doubled by the TE up top. The receivers are starting to break into their post routes up top with Verrett and Olabode taking LSU's danger man Landry, while Beckham is one on one with Kevin White on the outside
McFarland actually does a good job of getting by his man and getting upfield, but that initial hesitation ends up giving Beckham a full five seconds to get open. If the highly instinctive and disruptive Fields were lined up here, it's likely he would have been a full two yards closer to Zach Mettenberger here, not allowing him to set his feet and throw very accurately downfield.
As it is, Verrett sees the help from Hackett and moves to the deep man too late to help White, who has been staying close with Beckham but not close enough. To his credit, White plays this as well as anyone could without committing interference. He's in perfect position to challenge the catch or make the pick
Alas, Beckham gets his hands on it first and the rip attempt that follows doesn't score a fumble. White couldn't have played it any better as the last shot shows he has a hand in between Beckham's arms to try and rip it loose.
This is the play that sets up LSU's first touchdown of the game and leads to TCU working from a significant deficit the rest of the game. With Fields playing, Mettenberger has less time and would likely not have been able to drop the ball into the perfect spot to beat solid coverage by White. When Fields watches this I hope he gets frustrated and will be prepared to make up for lost time against Tech.
What went right #1: Pass rush with blitzing
Though the Frogs played it mostly vanilla in the game out of respect for LSU's running game, when the Frogs did bring pressure they had very good success with it. Here, a promising Tiger drive had just crossed into TCU territory, only to have the momentum totally snuffed by a well-timed blitz. LSU lines up in the offset I, a wide receiver on each side and tight end to the left. TCU is in the 4-2-5 (It goes without saying, yet still I feel compelled to mention it) with Sam Carter lined up over the tight end and Verrett playing close to the line up top.
LSU is running play action again, really selling it by pulling the left guard #78. Up top however, Verrett has left his man and is heading straight for the play. Fortunately Mettenberger is looking completely away from Verrett as the rest of the TCU defense is reading and reacting to the likely power.
Chris Hackett is moving over to take Verrett's man as judge dreads reads the fake without pausing to make a move toward Blue. Verrett is running headlong at Mettenberger who sees that he's going to have to get rid of it quickly.
Mettenberger turns away from Verrett's vacated man, hoping to gun it out before Verrett contacts him. Blue has totally missed reading the blitz, however, so Verrett has a free run up.
Happily, instead of going for a de-cleating hit, Verrett wraps Zach up and swipes at the ball. Mettenberger holds on, but it's definitely the right thing to do. LSU wound up in second and seventeen and went nowhere on their next two plays, killing the LSU momentum and getting off the field (we were down 2:1 in time of possession at this point, so getting off the field was key).
I really wish that Patterson had brought more pressure on third downs, because the down linemen simply weren't getting to Mettenberger whatsoever. Hindsight is 20/20 and all, but on every blitz TCU at least managed to pressure Mettenberger and sacked him twice compared to zero sacks and no pressure without the blitz. If your secondary is getting beaten because the line is giving the QB too much time, you have to stop him from having the time, no matter the risk.
What went Wrong #2: Casey blows it.
Listenbee was open, Casey. Really, really open. Though Boykin led us back to striking distance soon after this, this is the sequence that, in my opinion, lost the game for the Frogs. After getting lucky to not throw an interception on a wobbly pass in his very first attempt of the game, Casey settled a bit and looked okay in the first half but certainly not his dominating self. Coming out of the half, the rust has apparently set back in, leading to this travesty on TCU's first offensive play. TCU is in the spread with James as the back and with Brandon Carter moving across the formation to trail the twin receivers on the bottom to try and take advantage of vacated coverage.
Casey fakes the handoff to James and looks downfield. The inside receiver is running an out while Listenbee is running a post and the trailing Carter is running a wheel route. It's a good play to confuse coverage, as it's easy for the defense to lose track of someone. Casey has a clean pocket and makes his decision.
It is a very, very bad decision, as 2012 Casey's willingness to fit the ball into a window form an unfortunate tandem with 2013 Casey's suspect timing and the result has disaster written all over it as soon as the camera pans to where Casey's pass is targeted- a double covered Brandon Carter. Just take a minute to look at how open Listenbee is in the top middle of the screen. That is a touchdown and a 17-16 lead.
Carter attempts to bail Casey out of this decision as best he can, leaping up for it, but Casey mistimed it and it goes a bit long. You can see Carter giving it his all here as Listenbee looks on thinking "Seriously? Did you not see me?"
Somehow Carter gets a hand on it while in an awkward split position, while Mills gets two hands on it because the darn thing pretty well hits him in the chest. Meanwhile Listenbee is thinking, "No, seriously. That could've been my game ball."
I love Casey and think that if he gets back into form he'll be the best quarterback in the Big 12, but everything he did after faking the handoff was wrong and it turned the game from a dogfight where the lead seesawed back and forth down the stretch into a chase where TCU could never close all the way. Casey didn't see the field the rest of the game, and rightly so in my opinion, as Boykin played great. Speaking of chases...
I normally alternate good and bad, but since this next play was so tightly linked to the Casey pick it comes next. No matter how good they may be, when a defense is frustrated, they make mistakes. After spending 2/3s of the first half on the field, the TCU defense had to be a little frustrated when Casey threw an interception on the very first play of the half. When they thought they had held LSU to a three and out, only to be penalized for holding in a different fashion, they were a lot frustrated. That's when disaster struck. LSU is lined up in a basic I formation with a tight end to the right. TCU is in that 4-2-5 we run sometime. By which I mean all the time.
What follows is the most basic play from the I-formation. If you followed the Cowboys back in the 90s you saw it a thousand times with Troy Aikman handing it off to Emmitt Smith behind Moose Johnson. This is the kind of running play that the 4-2-5 regularly eats for breakfast. TCU has numbers in the hole, so it should be a two-four yard gain.
The fullback goes down after meeting the TCU linebacker, but Defensive end Terrell Lathan and safety Chris Hackett both go inside, leaving Magee a big lane outside. Hackett should have been a bit more cautious here with Sam Carter on the other side of the formation and unable to support, but again, frustration has built.
Hackett finds himself out of position and there's no one behind the line to help anymore. Either CB Kevin White or the aforementioned Lathan will have to beat their blocker to prevent this from being a disaster.
They do not.
As a result, the 280 pound Terrence Lathan is left trying to chase down a tailback- a speedy LSU tailback, no less- from behind. He gives it a good effort, but by this point the boning is compete.
People throughout the continent of Australia could hear the swearing that was going on in the Hawkeyed household after this one, and were doubtlessly befuddled at what there was to swear about at 11:00 on a Sunday morning. "The cricket's not on for hours, mate!" they likely called back.
What went Right #2: Trevone Boykin learned to throw, guys.
So out goes Casey Pachall, in comes Trevone Boykin and the TCU offense comes alive for the first time all game and answers with a B.J. Catalon touchdown (which should probably be charted, but I'm saving #3 for my favorite player so Catalon will have to wait until next week for his feature). LSU answered with a touchdown of their own and things were starting to look dire. The Frogs repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with penalties and ended up in a third and seventeen from their own ten yard line. If Boykin hadn't looked so good in spring and fall practices I can virtually guarantee they would have pulled him for Pachall here and I wouldn't have complained too much. As it was, TCU's pass of the day was in the offing. TCU is in the spread with three receivers to the right and third string receiver Josh Doctson alone up top. LSU is in a nickel with two safeties deep off the screen.
Boykin has plenty of time as Catalon moves out of the backfield on a wheel route but is quickly picked up. A special shoutout to Halapoulivaati Vaitai who is doing a commendable job in pass protection.
Boykin sees Doctson create a little space and goes for it. It's pretty similar to the coverage Casey's pick came on, a corner below a safety coming on top, giving Boykin a small window to work with. He drops it in absolutely perfectly.
Pass complete, Doctson takes it out to the 45 before being shoved out of bounds. It's not a lot to chart in pictures, admittedly, but this is the play that convinced me that Boykin is the man for TCU at quarterback. Yes, he still made a couple of mistakes on whether to pull or keep in the zone running game, but if Boykin can make a beautiful throw like this to let a receiver catch it over his shoulder in stride there's no upside to Casey being the starter. You'd want 2012 Casey Pachall in because he can make all the throws, but if Boykin can make the throws 2013 Casey can make while also opening up the running game, where's the benefit to trotting out Casey?
What went right #3: Waymon James, we missed you.
After LSU's fumble that Kevin White recovered (Kevin White is my defensive player of the game by the mile, just to clarify) TCU went to work on the LSU doorstep. This may not be TCU's best running play of the game, but it shows just how much we missed when Waymon James went out with an injury last year. TCU is spread out with three receivers up top to give big powerhouse receiver LaDarius Brown one on one beneath and Waymon James is the back to Boykin's left. LSU is in a goal line set.
The snap is low but Boykin makes a clean handoff to James as TCU runs the stretch. Trouble is brewing, however, as though it's hard to see with the pulling Jamelle Naff (#77) in the way, LSU has a totally unblocked defensive end in James' hole- which kind of makes it not a hole at all.
A recipe for disaster for almost anyone, but Waymon James is something else, as even with the end staring at him head on he continues the play the way it was drawn up.
The end has a good angle on James, and as a result he should be absolutely dead to rights, and any of last years backs would be done, giving TCU third down and goal from the 7. James has other ideas, and turns outside to turn a good angle into a bad one for the LSU end.
Even with the good move, this is still probably a win to get back to the line. The end still is in position to get hands on James and a linebacker is coming to clean up if James is slowed for even an instant.
James runs straight through the armtackle attempt without breaking stride and is able to bowl straight into the end zone.
Catalon has great moves and good speed, but the vision of James combined with his subtle cuts, speed and raw power make him the ideal back to me. James used all of them on this play and it ended up being a touchdown that changed momentum. Sadly, shortly after this LSU had the 77 yard kickoff return that set up their own touchdown, but the combination of Catalon, Boykin and James on the ground pulled TCU back into a game that by all rights should have been over.
Overall after rewatching the game I'm more frustrated with the way things turned out than I was before, because it could easily have been a very different game. With Devonte Fields playing would LSU have converted so many of those key third down passes? What if Casey had thrown to the wide open Listenbee instead of the double covered Carter, resulting in a 14 point swing? If Jeremy Hill hadn't had so many issues with haters, would he have made for a better ground effort for the Tigers? A few changes here and there and TCU could have leaned more on the running game, which actually worked pretty well against the huge tiger defense- and bodes well for their play in the Big 12. If TCU can keep from falling into big early deficits, I think the Frogs will do very well this year, well enough where... I know LSU fans are kind of cold toward the idea of rematches, but...