Now that Saturday has come and gone and I’ve watched the game three or so times through (I don’t get out much), there are a couple plays that were pretty significant. They could get lost in the shuffle of everything that happened near the end of the game, with the last field goal by Rafael Gaglianone, or the interception by D’Cota Dixon, or the hit by LSU lineman Josh Boutte.
Those plays are significant in their own right, but the result isn’t even what I’m focused on. It’s the reasons why they occurred that are more intriguing.
We’ll start with this LSU 4th-and-1 play with 1:53 left in the second quarter. LSU is on its own 45-yard line.
Marked with the yellow star is LSU tight end Colin Jeter. In my previous article talking about the LSU run game, I discussed how Jeter uses a technique that’s a bit unorthodox, but usually works due to blunt force. What happens here allows inside linebacker Jack Cichy (yellow arrow), to tackle Leonard Fournette behind the line of scrimmage. This would lead to Gaglianone’s second field goal of the first half, which turned out to be pretty important.
Bear with the bevy of yellow lines here. The yellow arrow indicates Jeter. You can see him physically pushing his fellow tight end, Foster Moreau, down the line toward Cichy, who is almost on the right hash mark. If the tight end is able to block Cichy, there is no penetration up the middle. Jeter and fullback J.D. Moore are looking to seal the edge, with pulling guard Will Clapp definitely providing enough manpower to get a first down with Fournette still coming behind them, right?
Wrong. Jeter’s overzealous approach, which normally works, backfires on the Tigers as Moreau is knocked off balance, and he’s in no position to prohibit Cichy from knifing into the backfield and stopping Fournette from reaching the first down. It’s ironic that Jeter, who is simply trying to overwhelm the defense with aggression, put his own teammate in a poor position by being too aggressive.
Let’s take a look at the other play:
This is a pretty basic power play by Wisconsin. In 21 personnel, the front side of the play will block down and create a wall of sorts while Beau Benzschawel pulls to the front side in front of Austin Ramesh and Dare Ogunbowale.
Big blocks by Jon Dietzen on Travonte Valentine (not small) and Troy Fumagalli on future NFLer Davon Godchaux allow this play to happen. Fumagalli cutting off Godchaux will draw No. 45 Michael Divinity Jr. down the line to be kicked out by Benzschawel. However, the biggest block on this play is from Ryan Ramczyk, who actually blocks two guys, and enables Ogunbowale to gain valuable yardage, which led to the game-winning field goal.
Ramczyk climbs well up to the second level. His assignment is No. 40 Duke Riley. Riley sees the down block by Dietzen and comes forward to attack the line of scrimmage. This makes Ramczyk’s block easier, as it decreases the amount of space for the superior athlete, Riley, to utilize. For whatever reason, Kendall Beckwith also steps forward, taking a false step. This allows Ramczyk to also pester Beckwith, which allows Ogunbowale extra yards. Riley getting too far up field takes himself out of the play entirely and Ramcyzk to focus solely on Beckwith as the play continues.
Rather than being tackled around the 45-yard line, he’s tackled at the 32 due to extraordinary effort on the second level like this:
Ogunbowale goes from the 50 to past the 40 of LSU while Ramczyk is sustaining this block, something very hard to do on a future NFL linebacker who is a better athlete than the man blocking him.
The Badgers beat a more talented team on Saturday due to superior effort and being opportunistic. If they want to make the most out of this murderer’s row schedule, it’ll have to be through effort and execution.