The Passing Game
The Bulldogs do a lot of bootleg passes off of play action. They are a ground oriented team and want to control the clock and time of possession. Above, we see the quarterback runs a naked bootleg and with three eligible receivers at different levels he has a choice to throw or run the ball. It is a safe pass in that being out of the pocket, the quarterback has an easy option to throw away the ball.
The Bulldogs do not do a lot of straight drop back passes with long routes. if they run multiple long routes, they will use play action or get the quarterback out of the pocket to buy more time. Look for short hitch routes, crossers, and slants when they have 3rd and 5 or like yardage.
The Running Game
The Lead Iso is a staple of the Misissippi State running game. The linemen block man up on the defensive line in front of them. The play side guard helps with the defensive tackle and pushes him inside while the playside tackle pushes the defensive end outside. The fullback bursts through the hole and the runningback makes his cut off of the fullback's lead. Jerious Norwood is the running back and pretty good one at that. He cuts off of his blocks well, although he is nursing a few minor injuries. Last year the inside running game killed the Gators as the line gashed the Gator defensive line all day and opened up huge holes. It is imperitive the Gators maintain gap control, something they got caught giving up against Bama and definitely against Mississippi State last year.
The Zone Stretch allows all the offensive linemen to take the same path and mow down defenders in their path. The running back follows the zone path and then cuts upfield when a crease opens up. The Bulldogs like to run inside, but when they do run outside, they like the stretch.
MSU plays a lot of Cover 1 and Cover 3 base defenses. They don't blitz alot, but they use these two to disguise their zone or man coverage at pre-snap, Here we have a Cover 1 where all of the eligible receivers are covered by a defender. The free safety cuts to the deep middle of the field while the strong safety cuts to the short middle of the field and acts as a robber. This basically takes away the middle of the field but leaves the outside open to the 1 on 1 coverage.
Below we have almost the same exact pre-snap alignment, but instead of man coverage, we see a full seven man zone. The linebackers create a short net and divide the short field in fourths with the strong safety. The free safety again cuts to the deep middle of the field and the corners drop deep past the short zone of the linebackers. The deep hashes should be a good spot to hit along with quick flat throws before the linebackers can get to their zones.
This is where the Gators want to start utilizing the width of the field. One, they can get a pre-snap read on man coverage or not, and two, spreading the defenders wider as seen above and actually making them defend the width of the field, opens up the middle for the rnning game. If the Gators can successfully back the Will linebacker and the nickel / sam linebacker out of the box, running inside becomes a numbers game in favor of the Gators.