(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Numbers, schmumbers. Can math make TJ Yates arm do this?
Once again, we take a closer look at the box score to look at those numbers which made a difference in the game.
2 - Number of carries by a running back not named Stevan Ridley. So much for the running back by committee. Ridley clearly is the team's #1 as the coaches only gave Murphy two carries while the freshmen never even saw the field. Ridley did not really impress me much, and he also had some serious fumble problems, but the coaching staff does not appear to have the same doubts. Ridley is The Man.
29.8 - UNC's average yards per kickoff. LSU's special teams dominance regarding field position continues. The average LSU kickoff netted 54.2 yards, putting UNC's offense around the 20, while LSU's offense started near midfield, on average. Field position matters a lot.
326 - LSU's return yards. Speaking of special teams, LSU had 326 return yards and 313 offensive yards. LSU gained more yards on special teams than on offense. UNC gained 436 yards on offense, but their yardage advantage disappears when we consider special teams. LSU's actual yardage advantage was 639 to 506. Hidden yards.
3 for 4 - Derek Helton's success rate inside the 20. I know this is special teams heavy, but I'm going to drive this point home: LSU's special teams are incredible. It's not luck, LSU consistently outperforms teams on special teams. As the offense has struggled over the past two seasons, the special teams has kept LSU competitive, and even won games for the team. Helton pinned UNC inside the 20 three times on four chances, only having one touchback. That's a great ratio, even better because UNC was unable to return any of those punts. Once again, football is a game of possessing territory.
33-24 - UNC had 33 rushes for 24 yards, an average of 0.72 yards a carry. That's amazing rush defense. UNC's longest rush of the night was 11 yards. Looking for positives on defense? There you go.
239 - Yards gained by the UNC offense in the fourth quarter. UNC only had 197 yards of offense in the previous three quarters. Without LSU's fourth quarter loss of focus, the defense had a great game. But, wow, was the fourth quarter awful. Throw in the -20 yards rushing (primarily due to the big sack), UNC gained 259 through the air in the fourth quarter. Yates' fourth quarter numbers? 15 for 23, 239 yards, 2 TD's, and an ATVSQBPI2 of 10.83. The rest of the game? 6.21. Not bad, but Yates was otherworldly in the fourth quarter.
55 - Yards gained by LSU's offense in the second half. 13 of those came in the fourth quarter. LSU only gained four first downs in the second half, three of them on one drive, which only netted 22 yards. This team simply packed it in the second half. Killer instinct, guys. Keep attacking. No mercy.
5.612 - The ATVSQBPI2 of Jordan Jefferson. Not great, not horrible. Just kind of there. We'll keep watching it all year.