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CFB: 2019 LSU Defensive Efficiency Numbers, and How Aranda's Sim-Pressure Scheme Correlates

2019 LSU Defensive Efficiency Numbers, and How Dave Aranda's Sim-Pressure Scheme Correlates

The LSU defense led by Dave Aranda came into the semifinal nationally ranked at 24th in Havoc Rate (30.75%) with 3rd down stops included during the regular season. Subtract the third-down stops from the equation and go with the traditional raw Havoc Rate, and LSU ranks 39th (15.74%). The LSU defense gets off of the field at a high rate without having to create a lot of box score stats like turnovers, sacks and TFL's. LSU ranks 14th nationally with 122 third-down stops and 12th in 3rd down conversion rate (30.68%).

Against the Sooners in the College Football Playoff Semi-Final, the LSU defense created Havoc with 3rd down stops on 20.9% of their total plays. Without the 3rd down stops, the Tigers tallied an 8% havoc created rate with two sacks, two TFL's, and one INT. The difference between Havoc with third-down stops and without is near 13% differential, which mirrors how the Tigers have operated throughout the 2019 regular season.

LSU was able to hold the Sooners top-ranked big-play offense, which averages 20.75 plays per game of 10 yds or more to a combined total of seven plays (five Passing, two running). The LSU defense ranks 42nd nationally in plays of 10 yds or more allowed and was an area of concern for the Tigers that Oklahoma would try to exploit. Still, LSU was successful throughout the game, getting pressure with four and dropping seven into coverage.

The Effect of Dave Aranda's Simulated Pressures

Aranda's simulated pressure philosophy directly Reflects the effect it had against Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff Semi-Final. The LSU defensive effort, as referenced above, did not appear in the traditional boxscore with crazy stats. The two areas where it does show up, third-down stops, and third-down conversion rate.

LSU consistently kept Oklahoma behind the chains on 2nd and 3rd down. By using simulated pressure, LSU could aggressively dictate how Oklahoma would need to adjust protections with their backs and TEs. Hurt's spent the entire night getting moved off of his spot and throwing the ball away off of his back foot leading to empty downs. Hurts did not get the opportunities in the run game he had been accustomed too during the regular season because of LSU's discipline in the run game, filling gaps, and their overall team speed.

What is A Simulated Pressure

A simulated pressure is a rush four rather than the more traditional fire zone where you rush five. The goal is to pressure the QB, moving him off of his spot and force the RB to stay in protection erasing him from the passing game. If the RB goes out on a route, the defense has a chance to gain a one on one or a free rusher. With the simulated pressure allowing you to rush four, it leaves seven in coverage and opens up a myriad of coverage options.

We diagrammed three plays, and situations from the LSU vs Oklahoma Semi-Final that directly reflect how the LSU defense was able to keep Oklahoma’s offense off balance and out of rhythm.

Oklahoma's First Five Drives Dictated Their Final Outcome

LSU's offense started the game fast, scoring TD's on three of their first four drives leading in the first QTR 21-7. They would go on a run of 7 consecutive TD scoring drives extending their lead to 56-14 early in the third quarter.

Oklahoma's first five drives started with a sack, false start, run by hurts for five yds, pass incomplete, and pass incomplete. The drive that started with a +5 gain would lead to a sooner TD and gave them some life, but the Tiger's never let off the gas on offense allowing for their defense to pin their ears back and remain aggressive.

The Situation

D&D: 1st & 10

AOF: -25

QTR: 1 15:00

The Simulated Pre-Snap Look

Aranda's four-person pressure would be enough to stifle the Sooners early in the game. On the opening play of the game, LSU brought eight into the box with Grant Delpit coming up from his deep safety spot to line up outside of the TE, who is tight to the right of the formation in a WR stance with K'lavon Chaisson already lined up in a two-point stance in front of him. With Delpit moving into this position, it puts pressure on the protection to that side of the offensive formation forcing the Sooners to account for him pre-snap as a potential rusher off the edge.

The Post Snap Outcome

Delpit is there to simulate pressure and force the one on one between the TE and Chaisson and force the tailback to account for Delpit as a free rusher candidate. With LSU in their base front "tite" 3-4 look (two DE's 4i), and their secondary showing a cover one look, they have the one on one matchups they want upfront dictated because of Delpit's aligning himself in the box outside of the right TE. The final result of the play, whether this was the original call or determined pre-snap to run the tailback on a wheel without any chip or help with Chaisson, would be a sack to open the game.

LSU's Ability to Displace Hurts from his spot.

LSU did a great job of moving Hurts off of his spot and forcing him backward by staying in his potential rushing lanes and not rushing up the field with too much depth allowing him to take off underneath the rush defender.

The Situation

D&D: 3rd & 11

AOF: -24

QTR: 1 11:23

The Simulated Pre-Snap Look

LSU lines up in dime personnel subbing out a DE and DT for two additional DB on an apparent passing down. LSU wants to put pressure on the protection by shifting OLB K'lavon Chaisson and the DT to the left of the center with their hands down. LSU brings one of their LB's up to the LOS outside the shade of the RT in a two-point stance showing a blitz. They also add the extra dime safety to the outside shade of the RG in a two-point position showing blitz. Oklahoma has the numbers advantage upfront because of Hurts' ability to run, but given the down and distance, LSU knows that they need to cover the backend more than worry about Hurts running. They are showing confidence in their defensive speed by doing this.

The Post Snap Outcome

With six in the box, LSU decides to rush four and drop seven into coverage after showing a potential six-man rush pre-snap. LSU tdrops the LB to the left of the Oklahoma formation and brings the backside LB right through the B gap forcing the TB to come across Hurt's face to pick up the protection. The TB gets forced backward by the blitzing LB, and Hurts, must move to his right where if he runs the additional safety will get him, or the dropping LB to that side will be able to pick him up. Hurt's throws it away due to the double coverage on Lamb to that same side.

The Situation

D&D: 3rd & 20

AOF: -15

QTR: 2 3:44

The Simulated Pre-Snap Look

LSU comes out in their Nickel look (Peso), Subbing a DT for the additional DB. They have four along the LOS with K'lavon Chaisson lined up wide seven tech with his hand down forcing Oklahoma to bring their TB, who split out wide left back into the formation.

The Post Snap Outcome

Oklahoma did an excellent job picking up the rush four. The Sooners accounted for Chaisson on their left edge with two blockers, and they were able to negate the interior rush. Where LSU succeeded in this play would be in their secondary, where they allowed the rush four to get Jaylen Hurts off of his spot and force a throwaway.

In Conclusion

The key to LSU's 2019 defensive success is primarily due to its ability to cover on the back end while rushing four and dropping seven into coverage regardless of down and distance. LSU's simulated pressure can force their opponents to think more pre-snap, confusing them and leading to a game of rock, paper scissors. Their overall athleticism allows them to be diverse in how and from what angle they will attack opponents with pressure.

Against the Sooners, the Tigers were able to keep them off schedule early, forcing them into longer, less manageable 2nd and 3rd downs attempts. The LSU defense was able to get off the field and give their explosive offense more opportunities. LSU will need to continue this trend in the National Championship against Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tiger offense If LSU wants to walk away as champions.

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