Florida gave LSU all they could handle two weeks ago in Death Valley, and that was after having to scramble to create a makeshift offense with Treon Harris (who’s very talented, yes, but also raw) at the controls. The Gators lost, of course, but we did see some promising signs from the offense.
The Gators have used all three of their tight ends- C’yontai Lewis, DeAndre Goolsby and Jake McGee- as much as possible. Both Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier like to play around with multiple tight end sets, and they’re particularly useful when you’ve got tight ends who can catch passes and make guys miss like wide receivers can. Cue the LSU game, where McElwain was able to coach around Harris’s inexperience by creating a mismatch for him to take advantage of- McGee on a defensive end.
Florida’s down 21-7 late in the first half, but a bomb from Harris to Antonio Callaway has put them in scoring range. Now it’s time to capitalize. Callaway (highlighted in orange), who just caught the deep pass after tipping it to himself and then juggling it has done more than enough to merit LSU’s full attention, so the Tigers put star corner Tre’Davious White on him (highlighted in purple). Nobody really notices tight end Jake McGee (highlighted in blue), who’s posing as a blocker to Harris’s right. The other player highlighted is defensive end Arden Kay, in yellow. We’ll get to each player’s role shortly.
McGee is going to go in motion back to his left, and reset himself, while Callaway is going to run a go pattern on the yard markers- certainly on the outside of the field, but still leaving McGee some room to work the sideline. Kay, meanwhile, is going to drop back as a spy. Now that McGee has shifted over to the left side, and White is preoccupied with Callaway, Kay appears to be the Tigers’ only shot to cover McGee if that’s where the play is designed to go.
The LSU linebacker highlighted in silver is Deion Jones, the only other player who potentially has a chance to do something to stop what’s about to happen. He, too, has been assigned to spy on this play, and make sure Harris doesn’t try to beat the Tigers with his legs. But now McGee has shifted and the ball’s about to be snapped, and still nobody on LSU’s defense is directly accounting for him. And Treon is about to make them pay for that.
The ball is snapped, and McGee runs an ordinary wheel route- he first goes laterally toward the sideline and when he gets near it, takes off straight ahead toward the goal line. Meanwhile, Callaway is running a go route with a slight diagonal movement toward the middle of the field. This turns out to be doubly useful, as not only does he run Tre’Davious White away from where the ball is going to be thrown, it also disrupts Kay’s intention to drop back and cover McGee. Kay, who by this point seems to have realized his mistake, has his path to get in position to cover McGee blocked off by Callaway, as Callaway’s seemingly simple pattern brings him right into Kay’s way, forcing Kay to reroute himself. Jones, meanwhile, continues to spy, because to his knowledge, he has to. He doesn’t know how open McGee is about to be, and if he eschews his assignment, Harris could take off and score on the ground, which was what he was told to not let happen.
Since Callaway’s route forced Kay- who was late in figuring out what he had to do to begin with- to take a detour on his way to covering Jake McGee, he’s now so badly out of position that he may as well take off his helmet and head over to the sideline, because the play is over. McGee is wide open for a touchdown, and Treon has found him and is about to hit him. Hats off to Callaway for running right into Kay’s way to block him off, and hats off to McElwain for drawing it up that way.
And now we see the genius behind McElwain’s play design, as well as the exemplary execution by Callaway of screening Kay off. Just look at all that open space that’s been created, approximately a half second before McGee catches the ball. Not a Tiger in sight.
In case you haven’t yet figured out the end result of the play: touchdown, Florida.
And LSU fans can’t believe just how easy that was.
Nor can the LSU defenders.