Alabama and LSU met in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night with serious SEC West and College Football Playoff implications. The No. 2 ranked Tigers were expected to give No. 4 Alabama a serious challenge, but the Tide dominated by controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball ... and wound up stealing LSU's No. 2 ranking this wee.k
Alabama held LSU running back -- and Heisman front-runner -- Leonard Fournette to just 31 yards on 19 carries. The front seven dominated LSU up front and consistently met Fournette at or behind the line of scrimmage.
On offense, the Alabama offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and opened up holes for Derrick Henry to rush for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns on 38 carries.
This week on SEC Film Study, we look at how Alabama created opportunities in the run game against LSU through great play design and execution.
In the second quarter, Alabama created the first big offensive play of the game from either side on a 39-yard run by Henry inside the LSU 5. Alabama's blocking up front sprung Henry into the secondary.
The Tide have the right tackle and center chip with the guards before releasing to the second level to pick up LSU's two inside linebackers. Tight end O.J. Howard does a great job to pin the defensive end inside and create a seal for Henry to run behind.
Howard and the right guard seal their defenders inside, while the right tackle kicks the linebacker outside -- which also walls off the outside defensive back. Center Ryan Kelly drives the linebacker down the field as Henry goes untouched into the third level of the defense.
Henry follows Kelly until he turns the linebacker inside, allowing Henry to jump cut outside and take off.
Kelly's final contact with the linebacker comes 12 yards from the line of scrimmage, which is also the first time Henry is contacted by a defensive back. Henry uses a stiff arm to create separation and gains another 26 yards due to his strength and speed before getting run out of bounds.
Henry polished off the drive with a touchdown run where Alabama uses its counter scheme to perfection. The left side of the line will crash down to pin LSU's defensive line inside. The in-line tight end kicks out the outside defender, while the H-Backs and right guard pull through the hole to pick up linebackers.
The line's movement to the right freezes the linebackers and holds them inside. The line creates a seal inside with their crash technique and with the wave of three lead blockers, Henry can burst through the line before taking his first contact.
By the time Henry has to take a square hit, he's at the goal line and is one-on-one with a safety. That's a matchup he's going to win every time and it gives Alabama the first touchdown of the game.
Later, in the third quarter, Alabama found itself in another goal-to-go situation and used another counter design to spring Henry for a touchdown where he went untouched into the end zone.
This time, the right side of the line crashes to the left and the left guard and fullback pull around to the right.
The line movement holds the linebackers inside and the wide receiver and pulling guard do a great job to seal them in to give Henry a lane to bounce outside.
The LSU defensive back jumps inside and then gets blasted by the fullback that pulls around, springing Henry for a walk-in touchdown to put Alabama up 17.
Late in the fourth quarter Alabama was in front by two touchdowns and trying to ice the game. On 3rd-and-9 the Tide turned once again to Derrick Henry to try and pick up a first down to seal the game.
Alabama lined up in a bunch set to the right and had a bubble screen option on top of the run play. LSU's linebackers overloaded the right side of Alabama's formation, giving Coker an easy read on the inside handoff to Henry.
All three LSU linebackers brought pressure from the right, which took them out of the play and gave Henry plenty of room to run for the first down.
LSU's defensive line gets turned inside, while left tackle Arie Kouandjio is more than happy to let the defensive end get up field and run himself out of the play.
Henry does get tripped up by a linebacker that catches his ankle, but he has the balance to stay on his feet as he nears the sticks.
The LSU safety is in position to come up and make a tackle just beyond the first down marker and at least limit the damage on the play. Instead, Henry is able to regain his balance and cut inside to somehow beat the safety to the angle and turn upfield.
Henry's strength comes into play once again as he begins his stiff arm at the Alabama 45 and gains an extra 10 or 11 yards from there to put the game on ice.
Derrick Henry is a special back with his combination of power and speed, but he gets plenty of help from a terrific run-blocking group up front. Alabama's offensive line ranks 6th in the country in adjusted line yards, and once Henry gets to the second and third level he's extremely difficult to catch and tackle in the open field.
The offense is able to grind opponents down in the running game and limit the other team's possessions by burning the clock. The defense, which stays well rested, is a physical group that is as good against the run as any unit in the country.
With that combination, which was on full display Saturday night, the Tide are the clear favorites in the SEC right now.