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LSU Film Review: Ole Miss' pop passing is now setting up QB scrambles

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Chad Kelly's big day on the ground against LSU was set up by an early option play that forced the defense to stay honest.

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss has used a non-traditional (and at the same time very traditional) passing play to set up Chad Kelly's success on the ground this season. Ole Miss used a pop pass that may or may not have been legal in order to beat Alabama this season, and Rebel fans have continued to see similar plays implemented this year. They're not unique in this. Here's an article from SB Nation about the pop pass.

When the Rebels run pop passes (essentially plays in which a quarterback rolls out of the pocket with an option to either run or pass), defenders begin to respect their receivers more. Because of this, when Kelly rolls out, they can't devote themselves solely to stopping a scramble and are instead forced to stay in coverage a tick longer.

Against LSU, a very early pop passing play helped set up success that would later yield over 80 yards rushing for Kelly. On Ole Miss' first drive, a beautiful post pattern by Quincy Adeboyejo gained 56 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Two plays later, this happened.

As you can see, Kelly gets to the outside, and the defender on Engram has to choose to let Kelly gain yards on the ground or let him pass to Engram. Kelly catches him out of position and makes this play work. Ultimately, the Rebels failed to pick up a first down and had to settle for a field goal, but this play was important. It showed LSU that Kelly would find receivers even when scrambling.

Here's the particular play design.

Pop Pass vs. LSU

I made this in MS Paint, so don't be nitpicky.

With this particular play, Kelly ends up with three options. He can hand it to Jaylen Walton running up the middle, keep the ball and scramble left, or pass to a receiver on the left side running a hook. I don't know for sure who he reads to make his initial decision whether to give the ball to Walton. I would assume it's the linebacker or a safety since every defensive lineman is blocked. That's not really important. His primary read is the linebacker covering Engram. When that linebacker doesn't stay on Engram, the decision is obvious.

Later in the game, whenever Kelly rolled out, he pump faked, freezing the defense. I'm not saying it's all because of this nine yard gain. That would be silly. But things like this do play a part.

Zedrick Woods blanketed LSU's Colin Jeter on his pick that led to the fight

First, enjoy this.

True freshman Zedrick Woods, who was one of the bottom three recruits in last year's class according to 247Sports.com's rankings, was matched up against Colin Jeter, a junior tight end with 11 catches for 123 yards on the season. That doesn't sound like much, but in LSU's offense, those totals make him the 4th most targeted receiver on the team.

When Tony Conner went down this season, the coaches tried Woods at Husky briefly. He was a true freshman and was exposed in coverage. A few games later, he covered a starting junior tight end an absolutely blanketed him, leading to a really well played ball and interception.

Woods Lineup

Here, Woods knows he has safety help over the top. He can play Jeter aggressively on the inside because of Trae Elston's positioning.

Woods stays inside and underneath Jeter. For some reason Brandon Harris still thinks it's a good idea to throw the ball here. In his defense, there are no other receivers open, but that doesn't mean he has to throw it.

Woods makes the pick and gets a decent return. A fight ensues. LSU's #28 is really aggressive and shoving lots of Ole Miss players. Ole Miss' #28 is ejected from the game. Life makes perfect sense.

So here's to Zedrick Woods. May he continue to improve and eventually become a strong replacement to Tony Conner.