11/15/18 5:30 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Throughout football season, we usually post a weekly statistical comparison of LSU and its opponent. But this week, rather than comparing LSU to Rice, which would be a bit of an “apples to oranges” comparison, we’ve decided to look back at last year’s LSU football team compared to this year’s team. Of course, it should be noted that this is not an apples to apples comparison either. For starters, last year’s numbers take into account the entire season, whereas this year’s numbers should improve greatly after this week’s game against Rice. Also, this year’s schedule is much harder with the Tigers having already played six ranked teams. Last year’s Tigers faced only four ranked teams, including Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl. And if you’re looking to draw any conclusions about offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger versus his predecessor, Matt Canada, keep in mind that this year’s team didn’t feature an elite back, didn’t return any starting skill players, and has been greatly hindered by a key suspension and multiple injuries. Ok, now onto the numbers…
• In Ensminger’s first full season as the offensive coordinator, the Tigers are scoring an average of half a point less per game than Canada’s offense scored in 2017. The Tigers are also producing about 50 yards less per contest. Both of those figures should look considerably better after this week’s game. We predict that when it’s all said and done, LSU’s scoring numbers will surpass last year’s.
• LSU is throwing the football a bit more this season, passing five-percent more than in 2017. That statistic might be higher if the coaching staff had more confidence in pass protection, which has severely hindered the offense for most of the season.
• LSU is 12th in passing this season, as compared to last year’s eighth-ranked passing offense. So despite throwing it more in 2018, the Tigers are producing 10 or so yards less per game through the air.
• With Derrius Guice as the featured back, LSU finished last season as the fifth best rushing attack in the SEC. This year’s rushing attack is currently ninth in the conference.
• LSU’s steepest decline is in terms of passing efficiency. LSU had the sixth best efficiency in the conference last season with a 150 rating, while this season’s 117 puts LSU dead last in the conference.
• LSU has not been great on third downs this year. In fact, the Tigers are 11th in the conference. The Tigers were seventh in the SEC last year with a 41-percent conversion rate.
• If you look at the defense, the unit is pretty much on par with what it did a season ago and is giving up nearly two points less per contest despite allowing an average of 27 yards more per game, and going from three sacks per game to 2.2.
• One of LSU’s biggest improvements this season is in red zone scoring, although red zone touchdowns are down. However, you can put an asterisk by LSU’s current number since Nick Brossette intentionally slid rather than scoring a late touchdown last Saturday.
• A big reason LSU has gotten so much better in red zone scoring is Cole Tracy’s reliable boot. LSU has made 88 percent of its attempted field goals this season compared to last year’s dreadful 59%. LSU has also improved in just about every special teams category, which suggests that special teams coordinator Greg McMahon has done a commendable job this season.
• Another key stat is turnover margin. LSU was strong last year with a +10 margin, and is even stronger this year with a league’s best +13. That and the massive improvement on special teams are probably the two biggest factors in the Tigers being positioned to possibly record their best season in years, go to a NY6 Bowl, and improve on the one statistic that matters most – wins.
Now let’s move on with our usual order of business by recapping a few key points from last night’s Coach O Show.
COACH O RADIO SHOW RECAP
Rickey from Birmingham started things of with a good question that went something like this: With the O-line working out kinks, why is it that we sometimes run in short-yardage situations from shotgun sets, and then sometimes on long-yardage situations we’re under center? Orgeron explained that there are times when they’re in a hurry up situation when they quickly go with a pre-called play in an attempt to catch the opponent off guard. Also, sometimes in long yardage situations they’re under center for play-action or max protection.
Mike in Memphis asked about the D-line having a little extra energy last this week, especially reserve nose tackle, Tyler Shelvin. He also asked about injuries. Orgeron said the D-line did play with more fire and were very motivated. As for Shelvin, Orgeron said he’s really coming and is going to be a great player. On the injury front, Orgeron repeated that Kristien Fulton will be out for a while and that Kelvin Joseph is questionable. Later he added that John Battle will probably not play.
Ken in Naples, Florida had an interesting equation: If we get a big lead this week against Rice, might we see Avery Atkins attempting field goal kicking in preparation for next year when we won’t have Cole Tracy? Orgeron said that Atkins is a pure kickoff guy and field goal kicking is not his forte. (Side note: For those wondering, LSU has a commitment from a big-time place kicker, Cade York, who is likely to take over field goal duties next year.)
From the live audience, Don asked about several players like Myles Brennan and Chris Curry playing this week since there’s the new rule allowing players to participate in four games and remain eligible for a redshirt. Orgeron said he hopes we’ll see a lot of guys who are destined for red shirts play this week. He specifically named Myles Brennan, Davin Cotton, Jarell Cherry, and Dare Rosenthal as players he hopes to get in the game. That said, the first-string is going to start and they’ll play all game if they have to. As for running back Chris Curry who was specifically asked about, he won’t play unless there’s an emergency because he’s already played in four games and the staff would like to redshirt him.
The Evil Twin asked about former five-star wide receiver Terrace Marshall who we haven’t seen play much lately. Orgeron said they would like to get the ball to Marshall more. He then explained that they’re having trouble spreading the ball around because they can’t put as many receivers on the field at the same time as they’d like because of protection issues.
From the Twitterverse, Orgeron was asked how backup quarterback Myles Brennan is progressing. Orgeron said Brennan has been dealing with a minor injury all season and is better now, but not totally healed. “Hopefully Saturday night he can go in there and show what kind of championship QB he can be for us,” Orgeron said.
• Congratulations to LSU safety Grant Delpit for being named one of five finalists for the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy – presented annually to the nation's top defensive player. Delpit is joined on the list by Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen, Michigan linebacker Devin Bush, Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, and Alabama nose guard Quinnen Williams.
• The Tiger Nation is still buzzing over the huge news of landing in-state five-star running back sensation John Emery of Destrehan. Emery joins cornerback Derek Stingley and guard Kardell Thomas to give LSU three five-star commits, and they’re all from right here in Louisiana. The only other team with as many five-star commitments at this time is Georgia, who also has three, per 247Sports. Hats off to the staff for putting together what’s shaping up to be an outstanding 2019 recruiting class. Later this week, we’ll take a look at ten potential candidates for filling LSU’s five remaining spots.
• Lastly, please note that our Ticket Exchange was updated with a few new listings.
Have a great day, Tiger Fans.