No. 11 LSU liked experiment with 4-end rush Print
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Thursday, 23 October 2008 11:15
NCAAF Headline News

 BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -Sometimes, what may seem unconventional or experimental is nothing more than common sense to LSU coach Les Miles.
So it was when Miles explained why 11th-ranked LSU, on numerous plays, inserted four defensive ends at the same time to improve its pass rush during a 24-17 victory at South Carolina last weekend.
``Those four guys give us great quickness and get to the passer and work well together in terms of orchestrating a coordinated pass rush,'' Miles said this week, referring to Kirston Pittman, Tyson Jackson, Tremaine Johnson and Rahim Alem.
``It just seems to be an advantage when you put those quicker guys on the field.''
Logical enough.
Whether the scheme known as the ``Express'' package works against No. 9 Georgia (6-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) and its experienced quarterback, Matthew Stafford, remains to be seen. But Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said he wouldn't be surprised if LSU tried it again on Saturday.
e might see it if we're in a certain personnel grouping,'' Richt said. ``I don't think there's any doubt we'll see it. They had such great success with it.''
It certainly rattled Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia, a freshman making his first career start. Garcia was sacked six times (most in an SEC game for LSU since 2005), including twice when LSU had four defensive ends in the game and once when the Tigers had three defensive ends on the line.
Garcia also threw away or rushed a number of incompletions in the face of the Express alignment as the Tigers (5-1, 3-1) shut out South Carolina throughout the second half, then sealed the victory with an interception that came when Garcia threw under heavy pressure late in the fourth quarter.
Using schemes that favor quickness over size in long-yardage situations is by no means revolutionary. For LSU, however, using only defensive ends in their traditional four-man front - instead of leaving at least one or two tackles inside - was a new twist, Jackson said.
``It makes it that much easier (to get pressure) with all four of us in the game,'' said Jackson, whose 4.5 sacks rank second in the SEC. ``There's a lot of speed but still a lot of size on the inside, so if they try to run the ball we can still prevent the run as much as possible.''
de run, while fellow ends Pittman (6-4, 257) and Alem (6-3, 254) pursued from outside, was evident when the four-end package got action even on both second- and third-and-long.
``Tyson Jackson ... is a guy who is so hard to block,'' Georgia coach Mark Richt said. ``When they recruit, they look for guys who are just a little bigger than everybody else, and they do have that. ... They have defensive backs who look like linebackers, quite frankly. The have linebackers who look like defensive ends and defensive ends who look like defensive tackles. They just recruit that way, and they do a good job of getting in the weight room - and they can run.''
South Carolina had only 39 net yards rushing against LSU, despite being in the lead or tied until Charles Scott's game winning touchdown run with 4:16 to go.
Pittman credited LSU's coaches for ``giving the defense some opportunities to get some blitzes in and get some pressures in and run some defensive games up front.''
``We were able to go out there and be loose knowing that we had a great scheme and a great game plan in and we really had an opportunity to make some plays,'' he said.
That won't be as easy against Georgia, which not only has a more experienced quarterback but also boasts one of the best running backs in the SEC in Knowshon Moreno, who has 762 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns through seven games.
th LSU's line, regardless of the personnel package. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois' anticipated return from an ankle injury should bolster LSU's defensive front even more.
``They are really making big plays right now,'' Moreno said. ``So I think that will be a challenge for us up front.''
 

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