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Music City Bowl Film Review: First Quarter

NCAA Football: Music City Bowl-Mississippi State vs Louisville Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville won their eight game of the year in a very entertaining bowl game that definitely didn’t start out that way. The Louisville defense started off strong but they gave up some chunk plays that led to a touchdown. Louisville's offense wasn’t able to convert their one good drive but they moved the ball well. There was plenty to like about the first quarter but Louisville didn’t take advantage of all of their opportunities.


Louisville couldn’t have started this game better from a defensive standpoint. Bryan Brown used Khane Pass as an extra linebacker and dared MSU to beat them with the pass. The defense set the tone early by bringing Kylin Hill down behind the line on the first play of the game.

The defensive line makes the play here by owning the point of attack and not letting blockers push them into the linebackers. Avery and Etheridge take on their blockers but there isn’t anyone to account for Pass and he knifes through to make the tackle after G.G. Robinson slows him up.


Bryan Brown goes overload on this play and his gamble pays off. This is a defensive call that is essentially three defensive backs covering four receivers and everyone else blitzing. Dorian Etheridge slides over to become an edge defender and Rodjay Burns comes over top of him into the void that is left. C.J. Avery Slides past what should be a double team that scrapes into him and he’s also there if Burns doesn’t make the play. The aggressive call pays off here.

Another thing that I like on this play is how the corners play off but don’t bail and Khane Pass kind of holds his ground. If this were a pass play and the pressure doesn’t get home, that’s on the other 8 guys on the field. The DBs sit because the ball should have to come out very quickly. If the rush can’t get there with extra guys and Tommy Stevens has the time to sit back and wait for guys to beat the coverage, this defense deserves to get beat.


Play action worked really well for Louisville in this game and they utilized it early and often. MSU has aggressive linebackers that love to play downhill. You can see how much they flow to the run action and Tutu Atwell slips right under the play into the vacated area from the corner blitz. Don’t sleep on Micale Cunningham getting this ball up and over the defender. He knows he will have the time to float the ball because he has pressure in his face right away. That means man and no one is running with Tutu.


I really liked that Satterfield used some of this traditional speed option stuff in this game. He has two fast guys and he just kind of bets that his fast guys could beat their fast guys to the edge. He also knows that he has receivers that will work hard as hell as blockers down the field. MC does such a great job here of inviting the linebacker to take him on and he holds off on the pitch until the last minute.

Another guy to keep an eye on on this play is Caleb Chandler. He pulls around and you can see him take out two guys. He forces Willie Gay (#6) to jump over him and he ends up taking down #90 who is trailing the play. Chandler is a guy that I think could have a really big year next season because I think he’ll be a bit quicker and faster on plays like this. He’s not flying around that corner but you can see how quickly he gets out of his stance. He’s an athletic guy. He just needs a bit of fine tuning to maximize that athleticism.


Scott Satterfield seemed to have a plan to take advantage of MSU’s safeties playing deep. He used the outside receivers to run off coverage and the safeties didn’t help much on underneath routes because they needed to protect the freshmen corners on the outside. That left these types of routes from Jordan Davis and Tutu Atwell open all day. Davis runs a deep cross behind the linebackers. The play action pulls them up while the deep run off pulls the safeties down the field. What’s left is a massive void for Davis.

The pass protection is outstanding here, also. The design of the play is meant to slow the pass rush and in doing so it also allows Isaac Martin to set up as a blocker and Javian Hawkins is also there for the double. Everyone else is just running their man towards the run action. MC just has to sit and be patient enough to let the routes develop. He does a nice job on this play.


Here’s the type of play that Dwayne Ledford has to find a way to fix or at least minimize in 2020. Louisville led the nation in tackles for loss allowed by a fairly large margin. It’s not completely unexpected as the line was asked to do something they weren’t really recruited to do. On this play you can see that Adonis Boone and Cole Bentley both get pushed deep into the backfield. Robbie Bell also ends up missing his block though it’s likely due to him not expecting his guy to be taking the path he takes.

In general, this play just turns into a mess because guys get beat at the snap. Some of that is due to just having guys that came here to run a different blocking scheme. Some of it is probably due to guys still not mastering all that comes with the zone blocking scheme. Ledford is held in high regard as a coach, so he’ll earn his salary if he can get this type of stuff fixed this summer.


This is nearly a perfect play by the offense. Dez Fitzpatrick sees the blitz and he points it out. THat leads to Javian Hawkins bailing on the play action to make sure he’s there to make the block on the edge. MC also gets his head around quickly and gets the ball out of his hands as quickly as he can. The ball is out before Dez makes his break which allows him to make a play after the catch but then he fumbles.

It’s impossible to know for sure but it seems like the defender got to Dez much more quickly than he expected. He can see him when he looks back and he goes to tuck the ball but he doesn’t get it put away quickly enough. This was a rough way to end a very good drive for the offense.


This play is a perfect example of Chandler Jones’ progression through the season. This is an easy catch for this receiver in the first half of the season. The Louisville corners were bailing out in these off coverages early in the season but you can see that he stays in his backpedal and trusts the pass rush here. They’re playing cover three so he’s responsible for this guy all the way up the field. If he gets beat there’s no one in coverage behind him. So it’s great to see him finally trust the call and the scheme.


This entire drive was frustrating because it was just Tommy Stevens getting chunk plays on what were essentially busted plays by the offense. This play was great, though. MSU tries to run a reverse out of the slot but C.J. Avery plays this exactly how he’s taught to outside of the facemask. This is the exact type of play that kills aggressive defenses. Avery could have worked over top of the blockers here and tried to angle towards the sideline here but he plays his role and stays on the backside of the play. That makes it easy for him to run this play down to make the tackle. He just needs to avoid the penalty.


Here’s a major issue for the defense that really caused issues this season. Guys missed too many one-on-one tackles. Khane Pass has a free shot at the runner here but he ends up having to lunge for the runner and doesn’t get enough of him to bring him down. He also isn’t able to grab a leg or ankle here. He slows down the runner a bit but as a second level defender you have to make sure this guy isn’t still running once they get to you.

Clemson was the obvious game that stands out when it comes to the poor tackling but this was an issue all the way back to the Notre Dame game. I don’t know what the fix is but getting more guys to the ball is something that has to improve just as much as pure tackling.


This is another blown blocking assignment that leads to a tackle for loss. It’s a different blocking scheme than the normal zone blocking scheme as Caleb Chandler and Cole Bentley actually pull on the play. Jordan Davis gets pushed back into the path of Bentley which forces him to widen out a bit. It looks like he ends up not even seeing the guy he’s supposed to block for some reason. Maybe if Bentely can come straight down the line here, he can get his guy and Hawkins is left to just beat the safety.

The concern or worry I have is if Bentley has the speed to get to these types of blocks. Robbie Bell has had some struggles getting out into space as well at times. Can Mike Sirignano and his staff work on these guys’ quickness and speed this summer? I’m not sure how easy it is to improve the foot speed of 300 pound people. If these guys can get a bit quicker, I think the offensive line can shore up some of these gaps that allow guys to shoot through and get to the running back.


Here’s the defensive line being very disruptive and blowing up the blocking scheme and forcing offensive linemen to chase them instead of blocking. Watch #78 for MSU end up facing the wrong direction on this play. Tabarius Peterson dips under him and beats him to the spot. That leaves the pulling guard to try to block Dorian Etherige who is not at all the guy he should be blocking. He should be blocking Rodjay Burns who ends up with a free run to the back because no one is there to account for him.

I know I’ve been beating this drum for a full year now but when they get consistent play up front this defense will work well. I believe we saw what this defense can be against the run in the bowl game. They wore down late in the season but overall, there was obvious evidence that they could be good on defense. It will probably just take some time to get some guys into the program.


This was a really nice coverage sack for the defense. They bring a corner blitz with a nice twist inside. The goal is to push Stevens up into the pocket right into the twist action. Amonte Caban comes right up the middle and his pressure ends up forcing Stevens into his own blockers. Khane Pass appears to be in good coverage as Stevens doesn’t pull the trigger and he ends up getting taken down by Avery on a delayed rush.


Micale Cunningham really showed off his ability to throw on the run in this game. I’m still blown away by it after watching the game a few times. The free rusher makes this pass impossible unless he throws it as soon as he gets away. If he hesitates at all, Tutu runs out of room to make the catch. I think this is a sign of him mastering this offense. He knows exactly where his guys will be AND where the defense will be based off of what he sees presnap as well as the action of the play. That’s easy when you’re throwing a deep post against zero coverage. It’s a different level when you’re throwing crossing routes around the first down marker.


This is a really good individual play by Hassan Hall. Boone gets beat at the snap and he gets pushed right into the path of the play. It slows down everything on the play which means that everyone else has to hold their blocks for that much longer. MSU players start to get off of their blocks as Hall gets to the line of scrimmage but he makes two guys miss and he drags Willie Gay for about three extra yards. I love these kinds of plays because they take real effort when he could have easily just gotten back to the line and turtled for a yard or two. Instead he made the effort to keep driving his legs and he gets them into second and short.