LSU Football: Back to School


It is that time of year, its time to start the college football preview season. For many college football fans this is equivalent to the week before Christmas when you were a kid. All summer long we dream of what the new season will bring, but it also give us some time to breakdown not only the past year, but also comparing them to years past.

I have to admit, starting this article is a challenge. Just how do I start the review? The season can basically be broken down into two parts: the regular season and championship games. In LSU’s 12-regular season games they manhandled both SEC and OOC opponents with exception to their 9-6 win at Alabama. Their defense and special teams carried them to a 12-0 record and was the driving force in their SEC championship victory, as the offense only gained 239 yards against Georgia.

Not wanting to focus much attention on the rematch against Alabama, but it can’t be stated enough that LSU only gained 92 yards of offense against the Tide. Also, I don’t want the first article focusing on the quarterback issues of a year ago. Can we just all agree that both Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee were two sub-par SEC quarterbacks and just move on with our lives. Thanks.

But because of the offenses poor showing towards the end of the year, this is where we need to start. Those two games brought a black eye on Les Miles and the entire unit, but just how good/bad was the offense? Without giving you a mile of data to compute, I am just going to give you five stats for comparison. Warning: it is about to get nerdy up in here.

The five stats we are going to look at were created by the staff at comparing NFL offense’s efficiency. I simple took the formula and plugged in LSU’s offense stats. Here are the definitions of the five stats. As a point of reference I am going to compare LSU’s stats with the Georgia offense. Why Georgia? Because if you ask most LSU fans if the Bulldogs offense was better, most would say yes. Let’s see if that is true.

Value Drive (VD): Percentage of drives a team took possession of the ball in their own territory and made it at least to their opponent’s 30-yard line or deeper.

Total # of DriveTotal # of VDPercentage of VD

It is basically a draw between the two. The percentages could be higher, but both teams had a high number of drives that began in their opponent’s territory, but that isn’t taken into account here.

Methodical Drive (MD): Percentage of drives a team ran at least 10 or more plays in a drive.

Total # of DrivesTotal # of MDPercentage of MD

This one surprised me. I would have thought because of LSU’s road grader offense that they had the clear advantage over Georgia’s over-the-top passing game, but it didn’t. The one thing to take from this is LSU wanted methodical drive, while Georgia didn’t, and they still had more. The take-away is that LSU failed to convert more first downs than Georgia (more on that later).

Explosive Drives (ED): Percentage of drives a team gained at least 10 yards or more on one play during a drive.

Total # of DriveTotal # of EDPercentage of ED

This stats should come at no surprise the Georgia had 20 more explosive drives than LSU. The stat shows that LSU struggled to throw the ball down the field from either quarterback as more than two-thirds of their explosive drive were due to runs over 10 yards.

First Down (FD): Percentage of drives a team gained at least one first down.

Total # of DrivesTotal # of FDPercentage of FD

Georgia gets the nod in yet another category. The way to read the stat is not what was the percentage of first downs, instead flip it into how many three and outs did each team have. One deficiency for LSU last year was the amount of times they struggled to find a offensive flow. The last two games strongly showed that, but all season they were bailed out from the other two divisions helping mask the stench.

Available Yards (AY): Formula derived for dividing the total number of potential yards from an offense by their total yards. Potential yards represent where the offense took over possession and total number of yards they needed to gain to score a touchdown.

Potential YardsTotal Yards% of AY Gained

The available yard stat is one of my favorite. It gives us a total value on just how efficient a team’s offense was. LSU was extremely efficient all year. In seven of the Tigers games they gained more than 50 percent of their available yards and against Ole Miss had a staggering 93 percent.

LSU struggled against its stiffest opponents. Against Oregon, they only converted on 35 percent. In the SEC championship game they only converted 28 percent. The worst the offense looked was against Alabama in the BCS title game, LSU only gained 11 percent of their potential yards. That number is even more alarming when they gained 33 percent in the first matchup.

Georgia also had seven game where they converted on more than 50 percent of their average yards. Their strongest outings were against Auburn (71%), New Mexico State (77%) and Coastal Carolina (64%), but struggled against opponents they should not have.

They only converted 34 percent against Mississippi State and 39 percent against Florida (LSU converted 64% against the Gators). And against LSU in the SEC title game they only converted on 25 percent. When you compare the opponents both teams played, its says a lot of just how well LSU’s offense was without playing a few cupcakes.

The thing to take away from this is that LSU wasn’t as bad as their last game. I know it’s a bad taste still left in out mouth, but this first year offensive coaching staff did a great job with the pieces they had to work with. The scary thing is I believe the offense will be even better this year due to more experience and improvement at one position. Stay tuned for more.