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LSU v. Washington: Behind the Numbers

I hate committing to a regular feature like Richard does because, well, I'm lazy and unreliable.  If the choice is sitting down and watching the game again to break down our linebacker or play OR go out into the city and drink heavily, well, I think we all know what I'm going to choose.  Sorry about that.  I'm at a bad blogger.

But I really do try to get out this weekly feature, as I look at the box score and try and break down some of the trends in the numbers we may have missed while watching the game.  Or maybe stuff that we did notice and I want to hammer home with my typical lack of subtlety.  So let's go look at some numbers after the break.

7/9.  That was Washington's third down efficiency in the first half.  This is going to highlight two themes of the night: LSU's defense could not get the UW offense off the field and the second half was a much different game than the first half.  While the 4/10 third down conversions in the second half are nothing to write home about, it's pretty obvious to see the improvement as the game wore on. 

There has been a lot of talk of "3rd and Chavis," Tennessee's old tendency to let up big third down conversions.  I don't much believe in that, as it's really just people remembering the bad events at the expense of the good ones.  Chavis defenses, like any other defenses, give up some 3rd down conversions and sometimes they don't, but not at an especially high rate.  I'm not overly concerned by this, but it does bear watching.

I'm also not thrilled that Washington converted more third downs (11) than the LSU offense even faced (10).

48 to 83.  These are the total of offenses plays by each team.  Washington just ran a huge number of plays while LSU ran a little less than average.  This is because LSU either went three and out or had a quick strike touchdown.  Yes, the Huskies had a yardage advantage of 478 to 321, but LSU actually won the average yard per play battle 6.7 to 5.8. 

LSU only had one drive of 10 plays or more, and it resulted in a field goal.  That was the first drive of the game.  Washington, on the other hand, had five drives of 10 plays or more.  The results of these long drives? Touchdown, punt, missed field goal, field goal, and touchdown (the very last play of the game, I might add).  Three of these five drives, the Huskies didn't even gain 50 yards.  They were using a lot of plays to not go very far.  This, of course, goes back to the high number of third down conversions, but it also showed the LSU defense made UW work for their yards.  There weren't that many big plays, as UW had to methodically drive down the field until they scored or made a mistake.

2 to 1.  There seems to be a general consensus that the turnovers saved LSU.  That, if Washington could only take care of the football, LSU would have lost the game.  I hate this line of thinking for two reasons: 1) it's not LSU was a passive observer on those turnovers and 2) the turnover margin was a whopping +1. 

It was nice to be on the giving end of a pick six instead of the receiving end.  And both teams had costly fumbles.  Washington fumbled on the goal line, costing them points.  However, LSU went three and out.  After the punt, the fumble cost Washington 20 yards.  Big whoop.  They still kicked a field goal.  I'm not saying turnovers don't matter, but come on.  The Huskies did not lose because of the turnovers.

52-51-50.  The rushing yardage for Scott, Williams, and Jefferson.  Sure, I would have liked to see Scott get more yards, but it is encouraging to see three members of the backfield all rush for 50 yards.  Welcome to backfield by committee, which I'm not entirely opposed to.  Seems to work for almost every NFL team.