• Breaking down how No. 5 LSU’s best player, Harold Perkins, was misused in loss to eighth-ranked Florida State.
• Used in coverage far more than as a pass-rusher: The sophomore played four times the amount of coverage snaps (28) than he did as a pass-rusher.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
LSU has a supercar that it refuses to drive over 25 miles per hour.
That’s the only way to describe how the Tigers used Harold Perkins in fifth-ranked LSU’s 45-24 loss to No. 8 Florida State on Sunday. While the sophomore posted just a 41.8 grade in the game, that should be chalked up more to what he was asked to do than his capabilities.
Perkins played 28 snaps in coverage against the Seminoles, four times the amount he did as a pass-rusher (seven). That’s because he spent most of his time as an off-ball linebacker rather than where he plays best: edge defender.
Harold Perkins’ snaps by alignment against Florida State
Perkins' pass-rush ability made him a sensation a year ago. As a true freshman, he led all Power Five linebackers with a 90.9 pass-rushing grade and 18 quarterback knockdowns (sacks/hits). He drew comparisons to the legendary Von Miller for the bend and advanced pass-rushing moves he displayed last season.
Harold Perkins Jr. is a true freshman *off-ball* linebacker bending like this my lord pic.twitter.com/SRvaakawDl
— Mike Renner (@mikerenner_) November 12, 2022
Even on limited opportunities against Florida State, Perkins still flashed his ridiculous pass-rushing toolbox.
One of the few times I saw Perkins line up at edge tonight he absolutely sauced the right tacklepic.twitter.com/jsI2RMaLkV
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) September 4, 2023
The ability to nail a “ghost” move off a euro-step approach, as he did in the above clip, is rare, and it only points to Perkins' unique skill set rushing the passer.
By making him an off-ball linebacker, that game-wrecking ability is completely neutralized. His situation is very similar to Micah Parsons‘ during his time at Penn State and early in his career with the Dallas Cowboys. He was used as mostly an off-ball linebacker at that time but flashed insane potential when he lined up at edge defender. Finally, the Cowboys made him a full-time edge and unleashed one of the best pass-rushers in the league.
In his postgame press conference, LSU head coach Brian Kelly had this to say about Perkins’ performance.
“He’s learning how to play a new position. We put him in a position last year where he was ‘See ball, get ball.’”
Kelly would be wise to let Perkins “See ball, get ball” full-time, much like the Cowboys did with Parsons.