• My thoughts exactly!
      LSU’s one strike TDs out of these slot fades were just like Briles’s slot verticals (in Briles’ offense the slot was already isolated on a safety so he didn’t necessarily have to run a fade since there was no safety help coming from the middle) off of play-action and no one really came close defending his offense..

  1. Clayton Davis

    What I don’t understand is how a defense can stop a QB who is able to deliver the ball 30 or more yards downfield with or without pressure to a receiver who is able to catch it with a defender running step for step with the WR. If that’s supposed to be a low percentage play, but the WR and QB are good enough to make it a medium percentage play, the only way to win is to have weapons just as good on O.

  2. Michael Kramer

    Rushing 3 did not work for any team all year vs LSU all year. Thought Auburn did the best all year with their down 4. Man coverage.

  3. Greg

    Would an uber talented Defensive line like Clemson had last year have made a difference? When they did cover well, they got beat by burrow scrambles…

  4. Jt

    Yea first goal is to stop those long TD bombs at all costs bc those are the kill shots especially if u have an deadly accurate passer like Burrows showed to be. Mix in zone and almost a prevent style D in the backend.

    Then just pray that ur front DL can handle the run game. If I was a D coordinator, I’d gladly be willing to give up 200+ yds of rushing to stop those kill shot bombs.

  5. Anthony

    May be totally off but why was a Clemson so much more aggressive this game vs Bama in last years title game? Last year it felt as if , “we’ll give up 8 yards rushing” as you’ve stated here and on Football Study Hall, but this year they seemed to have wanted to gamble more against an even more lethal deep attack ? Again I could be way off

    • ianaboyd

      Trusted the DL more perhaps. Also, Alabama didn’t want to take deep shots like LSU, they were an easier opponent to handle honestly.

  6. Chris R.

    As a Sooner fan…I have to give you major props about the comparison to the 2000 OU team. People forget how good OU’s resume was that year…beating KSU twice was very impressive. KSU, NU, and FSU all finished top 10 and Texas was 12. OU beat KSU, NU, Texas and FSU by double digits.

    What was more remarkable is OU had very little NFL talent on offense…Quentin Griffin and Trent Smith were the only starters that ever took meaningful NFL snaps.

  7. Zman

    Can you speak to what exactly teams can do to limit the deep strikes? What’s the ideal personnel and scheme?

  8. quigley

    As a historian, you probably realize the legacy of football-is-war analogies. Not only is it a dubious choice at this cultural moment, it’s wrong.

    Football is Tennis, not war. Now, when you’re on offense in football, it’s your serve. To win, you need to protect your serve and brake the other team. College games average 13 offensive possessions per team, and at the elite level, offenses need to score TDs on six or seven per game against good defense to win (data below)

    Clemson DC Venables is smart and knows this and a lot more. First, he knows that efficiency is more important to offensive success than explosiveness (I’ll come back to this). Next, he knows his players, and their strengths and weaknesses. And, he also knows what he’ll be able to install in two weeks.

    Finally, he knows that if he keeps two safeties back, LSU will skip down the field with seven yard runs and 15 yd passes. The LA-Tigers will win with a series of eight-play 70 yard drives, because they’re very efficient in these situations AND ARE GUARANTEED to convert them into seven points the majority of the time (7 out of 13 drives = 49 points).

    Venables knows that the odds are stacked against him in this situation because, as another poster said, LSU had made low efficiency plays medium or even high efficiency (Think Harden taking a very low efficiency shot, the step-back 3 pointer, and now making 38% of them. The Rockets have now converted a losing play into a winning one). Venables was hoping for an off night from his opponent or a few superlative plays from his own guys.

    Most of all, Venables knows that if his own offense can’t hold serve, Clemson’s in a bad spot. LSU’s ultra-efficient offense demanded efficiency from the opposing offense. There were openings for the Clemson offense, but the very high level execution required to take advantage of them wasn’t present every down this year.

    Burrow and OC Brady appear to be headed to the League and we’ll learn if there are more teams that can make the hard play regularly next year.

    • quigley


      In their last three games, LSU had three of the top 14 single game performances of the season! They were really peaking.

      Vs OU, they scored on 7 TDs out of 8 non-garbage time possessions (7/8).

      Vs George, 4/9 (with three FG attempts, so Georgia did well to get off the field).

      Vs Clemson 6/13 (one missed FG)

      • Clayton Davis

        Last year Bama mostly had to kick field goals in the red zone, or they turned it over. This year LSU scored 5 TDs in the red zone.

    • BT

      The problem here is the way efficiency is being applied. All else equal, it isn’t more efficient to score a touchdown with a 7 play drive than a 3 play drive. When you need 7+ successful plays to score, NOTHING is guaranteed.

      If a team can complete 30 yard passes 1/4 of the time and 7 yard passes 3/4 of the time, the 30 yard pass is still the more efficient play. This is similar to the math that showed 3 pointers averaged more points per shot attempt than any other shot (using NBA average rates). Strategies revolve around a teams ability to make the large return plays at high enough rates.

      In this case, LSU was elite at those shot plays into space. Their game plan built around these plays is more efficient than the script they would have been forced into had Clemson taken away those large return plays.

      A defense’s chosen strategy here depends on their talent. You want to match up where your talent will win, and use numbers and deception elsewhere.

      All this said, hoping for “an off night” is itself bad game planning, and I doubt this was his intention. It seems as if he thought pressure was a better tactic against these deep shots than sitting back in coverage. Clemson got to Burrow just fine, but that didn’t stop LSU.

  9. Jason Boa

    There’s a mistaken assumption (though not baseless) being made in the comments about the viability of setting up your defense to stop kill shots 1st. LSU has the greatest college offense of all time, them being able to score 40+ no matter how you set up your defense is not the norm. Even most elite offenses won’t hit their averages if you force them to score 7-10 plays at a time.

      • BT

        It’s more difficult on a per drive basis. Generally the more things you need to go right(successful plays, etc), the tougher it will be.

      • Jason Boa

        More difficult. Longer drives play wise means more chances to stall because of a sack/tfl, incompletions, turnovers, etc, on top of the difficulty of executing in condensed space in the red zone.

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