LSU Pass Rush Should Improve Against Mississippi State's Tyler Russell
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The LSU pass rush stank against Georgia.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray eviscerated the LSU defense. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo stretched out the Tigers.
This is not typical LSU defense.
In a recent poll, people believe the secondary needs to improve the most on the LSU defense. But the more pressure put on the quarterback from the defensive line, the less pressure is put on the secondary.
The Tigers rarely sniffed Murray, accumulating zero sacks.
Now the Tigers will go on the road to play against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs in Starkville are not near as talented as the ones in Athens, especially at quarterback.
Head coach Dan Mullen said earlier this week senior quarterback Tyler Russell will start. Russell has not played since suffering a concussion in the Bulldogs' season opener.
Russell has seen action against the Tigers every season since he has arrived in Starkville. His first two years did not go smoothly as a reserve, but he did have some success last season as a starter.
The LSU defense started off sluggishly against the Bulldogs last season in Tiger Stadium, but they finished strong. The pass rush for the Tigers had their best series of the season, turning Russell over on downs.
With less than nine minutes remaining, the Bulldogs drove down inside the LSU red zone down 30-17. The first play went for a short completion, but Sam Montgomery leveled Russell on the play.
Montgomery fired off low and hard off the snap, making him difficult to block by left tackle Blaine Clausell.
Montgomery uses his speed and slender frame to bend around the corner. Clausell's only option is to hold him.
Montgomery gets a great hit on Russell despite him completing the pass. Hits stick in the back of the head of a quarterback.
On second down, Anthony Johnson penetrated into the backfield for a nice tackle-for-loss. Johnson best football has came against the Bulldogs in his career.
Montgomery would finally get his sack on this drive after attacking Clausell's outside shoulder on third down. He pulls the exact "rip" move he did against Clausell on first down, except does it a tad bit lower, quicker and tighter.
Now the Tigers have the Bulldogs in 4th and long. Barkevious Mingo got a great jump off the snap against right tackle Charles Siddoway. Mingo does a great job swiping his right arm underneath Siddoway's extended limbs.
Mingo's closing speed is fantastic. He delivers the knockout blow to Mississippi State's chances of winning the game.
The above examples were Mingo and Montgomery's best rushes all season. The duo did not do enough of these kind of rushes when one-on-one with a tackle. Instead, they would make themselves easy to block for most of the season in pass rushing situations by firing off high and not using their speed.
LSU's defense did a great job of closing with a lead against Mississippi State, something they have struggled to do under Chavis. Sacking the quarterback kills the momentum of a two-minute drill. The Tigers pass rush has little excuse for bad pass-rushing if they know the quarterback is throwing the football.
The above photo is the release point of Murray's game winning touchdown pass against LSU. The Tigers get nowhere close to Murray, which was the story of the day for the Bayou Bengals.
LSU needs to be more like Mingo and Montgomery against Mississippi State. If Russell is the quarterback, he will not run for massive yardage. That means the Tigers should be able to pin their ears back and attack like rabid beasts.
Russell's main mistake in the above photos was not stepping up in the pocket and helping out his tackles. Expect his pocket presence to be better on Saturday.
Mississippi State has an experienced offensive line. The Bulldogs won't make as many technical mistakes, although they have allowed six sacks for 29 yards on the season.
Clausell and Siddoway return at left and right tackle. That means Jermauria Rasco, Jordan Allen and Danielle Hunter should have better games than they did against Georgia. All three of these defensive ends have a similar build to Mingo and Montgomery.
Backup quarterback Dak Prescott has filled in nicely for Russell during the injury. The Louisiana native provides a dual-threat option, as Prescott currently leads the Bulldogs in passing and rushing.
Prescott is not developed enough as a passer to complete long third downs against LSU. Expect Chavis to blitz out of the 3-2-6 Mustang defense to make plays against him.
Ultimately, the Tigers must do a better job of mixing up their pass-rushing technique. They were far too predictable in their rushes.
How many sacks will LSU have against Mississippi State?
Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson wore down defending the Georgia run. But there was no excuse for them not to get more push up the middle on a consistent basis.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis and defensive line coach Brick Haley need to help build their confidence by mixing up their calls as well. LSU should run more "twist" stunts, where the defensive tackle and defensive end switch their rushing lanes at the snap. Georgia's sack on LSU's opening play on their final drive came as a result of a twist call. Montgomery was deadly at LSU on twist stunts as well.
Do not be surprised if Chavis plays more freshmen. Kendell Beckwith and Lewis Neal have both shown flashes of excellence as pass-rushers this season in limited playing time.
The LSU secondary and linebackers will bounce back. The receivers for Mississippi State are not that good, so expect a few coverage sacks.
Russell is not a great quarterback. But if any experienced quarterback is given time in the pocket, he will have some success.
LSU needs to bring the heat up front against Mississippi State because the offensive lines and quarterbacks in the SEC only get tougher after this Saturday.
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