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What went wrong on LSU’s game-deciding play against Florida?

The Gators’ impressive goal-line stand is only one part of the equation.

NCAA Football:  Florida at Louisiana State Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s the final play of Florida’s 16-10 win over LSU, when RB Derrius Guice was stopped short.

After the game, head coach Ed Orgeron said Guice ran the wrong way:

"The back went the wrong way," Orgeron said of sophomore Derrius Guice's unsuccessful attempt to go over the top and middle of the Gator defense on the game's final play.

"It was a little short toss called. The back went the wrong way. He made a good effort, but it just wasn't executed right."

Guice’s awkward-looking footwork backs that up. His steps aren’t right because he knows he needs to get to the other side of the line of scrimmage. Sometimes coaches can get this immediate postmortem analysis wrong, because they haven’t watched the tape, and you’ll often hear them couch a postgame comment with that qualifier. But no, O’s hit the nail on the head there.

Here’s the “little short toss” O is referencing, but earlier in the game.

Here, it’s not blocked the same way as it was on the goal-line play, but I just wanted to illustrate what the pitch relationship looks like between QB and RB when done correctly.

It’s indeed simple. Reverse out to the right, and quick flip to the running back who’s going left.

Now watch it near the goal line.

Pay close attention to QB Danny Etling, who hesitates and stops his pitch motion short to keep Guice going on the track he’s already on.

Space is at a premium on the goal line.

Wasted steps can be killers. Plays need to be run in rhythm anywhere on the field, especially 3 feet away from pay dirt.

Things also look a little odd because Etling gets his foot stepped on during the center-quarterback exchange. Doesn’t throw things off by much, and I’m not blaming Etling, because he keeps his balance, but it still is a thing that happened.

LSU set this play up with the play immediately before.

It was a fullback dive to the weak side out of the same formation, only flipped.

The play was probably supposed to go to the left. But to the inside or outside?

On fourth down, with a rivalry game and potential Sugar Bowl trip on the line, the Tigers put the wing back on the left and tightened the linemen for some all-out trench manball, but why?

I don’t have the playbook, but I have two schools of thought.


Part of me thinks this was supposed to have set up Guice on a foot race out to the wide side of the field (purple arrow) with the unblocked defender (Nick Washington, No. 8, orange arrow) that Guice probably would have won.

It looks like fullback J.D. Moore (No. 44 in the white box) partially whiffs a block, but if the play gets bounced out, I’d argue Moore doesn’t need to do more than get in the way, because if Guice is on or near the purple spot when he receives the ball, could Moore’s defender make any play?

There’s also the fact that the TE (yellow box) widens out and goes for the outside shoulder of his defender at the snap. If the play was supposed to go inside the tackles by design, you wouldn’t invite a defender to waltz inside and blow it up. You’d take a path outside, to get in his way as he attempts to widen out.

Guice would have had a footrace to the white line and nearly a full head of steam going into a meeting against Washington, whom Guice outweighs by 20 pounds.


If Guice’s track was nearly correct, then the TE’s block could have just been a distraction. Was he supposed to block his man like he did, to pull Washington away from the middle of the field?

Perhaps the fullback, Moore, was supposed to root his man out in a more effective way, so Guice could vault over top of the left side of the line of scrimmage, which ended up being a muddied mass of limbs. The player blocked by Moore ends up hanging onto Guice’s legs.

Washington might have met him in the hole by recognizing the play was in fact coming toward him, but could Guice have broken the plane through the collision? Again, he only had to gain a yard.

It’s always fun to play what-if, and I have only my postulations to keep me warm as I think about the cold, barren distance LSU was unable to traverse between the 1-yard line and sweet victory.