DeAngelo Brown vs. Ethan Pocic
Nose tackles never get the credit that they deserve and DeAngelo Brown is a prime example of that. Brown led UofL with 12 tackles for loss this year and made countless more plays that won’t show up in the box score. Brown will go up against 6-7 Ethan Pocic this weekend and I think it’s one of the best match ups of any of the bowls this season.
Pocic is an NFL talent that is not only a great blocker at the line, but he’s also athletic enough to pull and become a lead blocker for Derrius Guice. That’ not too common, especially at the college level. Brown is an extremely strong guy and he has a very low pad level at 6 feet even. You have to wonder how the much taller Pocic handles Brown. If Brown can cause some havoc from his spot, it would go a long way to slowing down LSU’s rushing attack.
Can LSU Contain Lamar Jackson’s Legs?
Todd Orlando will be able to tell his grandchildren that he shut down Lamar Jackson the two times he faced him. I personally entered this season wondering if other teams would deploy the same game plan that Orlando has and Lamar Jackson would have a less successful season. That obviously didn’t happen, but Orlando was able to show everyone that if you have speed on defense and a plan to confuse Jackson and his line, it’s very possible to take away Jackson’s legs. Well, LSU has a ton of speed on defense and Aranda can bring pressure from outside with Arden Key and inside with Duke Riley and Jamal Adams. He also has defensive linemen that can stunt and twist.
What Houston was able to show people is that Louisville's offensive line is not very good. It also showed everyone that Lamar Jackson is very far away from being able to recognize pre-snap pressure as well as adjusting when the play starts. However, I think Houston was really able to give Louisville fits when they brought secondary players up on the edges to try and force Jackson back inside or to make the play on him. Before the UK game I spoke about Houston’s defense having guys that “went after” Lamar and made the stop. LSU has those same types of guys on their team. They won’t wait for Lamar to come to them. They’ll get after him and force him to beat them.
D.J. Chark Could Give UofL Fits
Louisville’s defense has been very inconsistent this year, but for the most part they have done what needs to be done to win football games. The two games where they really struggled were against Clemson and their great receivers and Kentucky and their speedy receivers and strong running game. Because Kentucky is such a run heavy team, Louisville ended up in solo man coverage with either one safety deep or no safety at all. LSU won’t spread Louisville as much as UK did, but they can run the ball much better. If Louisville has single cover Chark without a safety shaded to his side, Chark could have a big day. He is extremely fast and he is just one of those guys that makes big plays. Also, UofL doesn’t have multiple guys that can run with him.
The Tigers also like to use Chark on end around plays. He scored on a 79 yard run last year in their bowl game. LSU made some simple changes when they let Cam Cameron go earlier this year. The main thing that shows when you watch them is that they use their running game to set up a lot of other things. Chark has been a beneficiary with more run plays as well as more deep balls. LSU forces you to choose on defense and if they don’t choose Chark, he’ll get loose.
Derrius Guice Could Have A Game Similar To Nick Chubb
I think we all remember Nick Chubb running for a career high 266 yards two years ago in a not so fun bowl game loss. Well, Derrius Guice is the type of running back that could do the same. Guice set the LSU record for rushing yards in a game with 285 in their last game. That was his second game with more than 250 yards in a game this season. He’s the backup. Leonard Fournette set the single game record before Guice bested him by one yard. So, besides the fact that Guice is a great back, he also has a line that is opening up holes for him.
The other similarity with Guice and Chubb is the offensive system. Georgia didn’t do anything flashy back then. They lined up in single back or I-formation and they ran the ball right at you. They also utilized stretch runs very well and LSU does the same. Misdirection is a great way to take advantage of overly aggressive defenses, but stretch runs work really well, too. Guice is a patient enough to let his blockers get to their man and he’s quick enough to blow through the smallest hole and get to the second level. Guice isn’t a bruiser like Chubb but he is a violent runner who will run through arm tackles with ease. Guice puts up another crazy day if UofL’s defense shows up like they did two years ago.