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Behind the Box Score: LSU Wins the Box Score

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Bama wins the game

LSU v Alabama
Held the running game in check. It didn’t matter.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

We’re a day or two off here at Poseur HQ, as we wait for results from all of the scans at the hospital yesterday. Parenting Tip: Do not go to the hospital with your wife and BOTH grandmas. That’s a recipe for needing your own visit to Dr. Johnny Walker.

He’s a good doctor by the way, even if he doesn’t take my insurance. Highly recommended.

Anyway, we’re a day late with the look over the box score, so sorry about that. The big things that jump out at me when looking at the box score is “How in the holy hell did LSU lose this game by 14?” This looks like the box score of a close game, maybe even a runaway LSU win, but LSU didn’t just lose by 14, they were down by two scores for almost the entire game. It’s a deceiving statline.

116. Alabama’s rushing yards on 36 carries. That’s a mere 3.2 yard/carry average overall. No player on Bama’s team averaged more than 3.7 yards/carry (Damien Harris, who rushed for just 33 yards). Even with this performance, Bama still averages over six yards/carry on the season, while LSU has, at best, a middle of the pack run defense this season. The single biggest mismatch on paper went entirely LSU’s way, the team that looked at a disadvantage before the game started.

11/24 for 183 yards. Jalen Hurts’ passing line. He also threw for a touchdown, but was sacked four times. Hurts completed just 45.8 percent of his passes. There’s been some wringing of the hands in the LSU fanbase of “if only we could get X quarterback performance.” Here’s a reminder of what the winning QB looked like. Less than 50 percent completion rate. Sacked four times. An ATVSQBPI if 7.03. The big thing is that he threw and ran for a TD and didn’t throw a pick. But it’s not like Hurts was effective either. All he had was a few chunk plays.

12/26 for 137 yards. Let’s not pretend Danny Etling didn’t have a lousy night, though. His line looks a lot like Hurts’, only without the positive rushes. And instead of two touchdowns, he only contributed an interception. All in all, that lowered his ATVSQBPI to 2.40, so you can see the efficiency difference of a few touchdowns and no turnovers.

17. Devin White and Arden Key’s combined tackles, split almost evenly between the two at 9 and 8, respectively. Devin White is LSU’s best defensive player, but Key showed exactly what Tiger fans have been missing all year. He was a destructive force as well, and paired together, they wreaked havoc on defense.

51.6. Bama’s punting average. Of course the opposing punter turned into Ray Guy. That’s par for the course for LSU, and field position was a killer in this game, primarily due to Bama punting out of their ever livin’ minds. Bama’s season long punt average is 41.2.

9/19. LSU’s third-down efficiency. LSU kept drives alive and kept the chains moving. It’s how they ended up with nearly 10 more minutes of possession time. This was everything you wanted to see from the offense, yet it somehow didn’t turn into points.

9. Bama non-scoring drives. Eight of them resulted in punts and one was the end of game clock bleed. Of those eight contested drives, only once did Bama gain more than 10 yards, and they went three-and-out six times. Bama spent most of the night going nowhere. It’s just that whenever they had any semblance of a drive, it resulted in points. LSU, by contrast, had five drives of 10-plus yards and three drives of 20-plus yards that resulted in 0 points.

9-9. 9 plays, 9 yards. That was LSU’s last desperation drive with Myles Brennan at the helm. The drive before, Etling’s last, went six plays for eight yards. Down 14 and a chance to make it game, LSU took 15 plays to travel 17 yards, using over 5 minutes of clock. The other non-touchdown drives of the half went 17 plays for 36 yards. Outside of the one play from the wildcat, LSU could do nothing on offense in the second half, which is why they couldn’t close the gap that was a bit harsh to begin with.

Poseur’s Law states that a team that holds the advantage in the run of play must turn the advantage into points, or else the advantage dissipates. That’s what happened here. LSU won the statline in the first half, and arguably outplayed Bama. They were down 14-3 at the half.

In the second half, neither team did much to move the ball, playing grind-it-out football. The problem is, Alabama had a two-score lead and the clock was on their side. LSU never seriously threatened to make this a game in the second half, and never touched the ball with a chance to tie the game. Only once in the final 30 minutes did LSU’s offense move the ball more than 20 yards.

The box score may have been close, LSU even won the yardage battle, but the game wasn’t.