12/20/14 5:55 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The first thing I’d like to do is congratulate the 19 LSU student-athletes who received their degrees from LSU yesterday. Of the 19, eight are LSU football players – running back Kenny Hilliard, tight end Travis Dickson, defensive end Jermauria Rasco, linebacker D. J. Welter, former placekicker Josh Jasper, and walk-ons Sam Joseph, Tre Sullivan and Myles O’Brien. LSU baseball catcher Micah Gibbs also graduated. Hats off to all of these student athletes, and to all the young men and women who graduated yesterday.
Since we’ll soon be turning our attention to the upcoming Music City Bowl game, I figured now would be a good time to review LSU’s regular season stats and compare them to last year’s. In the chart below, all of the stats are final regular season stats, with the exception of last year’s QB rating and turnover margin. I didn’t have those two stats readily available for last year’s regular season, so I went with the final stats (post bowl game) for those two.
A few observations and comments:
You don’t need to study the stats to know that LSU’s offense was much worse in virtually every category this year, but let’s take a look anyway. The three most telling stats, in my opinion, are run-to-pass ratio, passing yards and third down conversion. Obviously, these three stats are closely related. Last year LSU was much more balanced run-to-pass (60/40) compared to this year (69/31), and as a result threw for over 100 yards per game more than this year. That’s huge, and of course LSU’s lack of a passing game this year made it very hard to move the chains. Last year LSU ended No. 1 in the nation in third down conversions, whereas this year the Tigers currently rank 73rd. How LSU fares in this regard next year will once again depend largely on QB play, and that is clearly the biggest question mark for the 2015 Tigers team.
On defense, LSU improved in almost every category this year, but the biggest improvement was in pass defense, as the Tigers held opponents to almost 40 fewer yards per game through the air. LSU’s pass defense last year was good, and it finished a respectable 13th, but this year it has been great and is currently 4th in the nation. The outlook for next year’s LSU defense looks even better at every unit (DL, LB, DB), with the possible exception of linebacker if Kwon Alexander enters the NFL draft.
On special teams, the two most notable stats are average yard per punt (big improvement by Jamie Keehn) and field goal percentage (big decline by Colby Delahoussaye). Keehn showed much better consistency this year and increased his average by nearly six yards per punt. In the return game, numbers were pretty comparable. As for next year, Jamie Keehn has stated that he will return for his senior year and that is great news for the Tigers. All of the Tigers’ place kickers will return as well. It will be interesting to see whether LSU sticks with Leonard Fournette as a kick returner, and who will join him back there in Terrance Magee’s place. Overall, the outlook for LSU special teams in 2015 is excellent.
One thing that stood out to me is that LSU committed fewer penalties this year. Although I haven’t seen stats to confirm this, it seems that LSU committed far fewer pre-snap penalties along the offensive line, and that reflects well on new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes.
In football recruiting news, LSU’s biggest out-of-state target, Daylon Mack, de-committed from Texas A&M yesterday. Later today Mack is expected to name is top-2 schools, and Tiger fans will be waiting anxiously to see who he names. It’s widely believed that Texas will be one of the two, with the other either being LSU or TCU. Mack is widely considered the No. 1 defensive tackle in the country, and landing him would be huge for the Tigers.
Also, another offensive tackle target emerged yesterday, and he’s a big one. His name is Fredrick Johnson and he is a 6-foot-6.5, 301-pound tackle out of Royal Palm Beach, FL. Johnson committed to Virginia Tech in September but has since reopened his recruitment and is reportedly planning an official visit to LSU in January.
In basketball news, the LSU women’s basketball team implemented a new platoon system with Purple and Gold units and rolled over UC Santa Barbara 78-45 at the Thunderdome. In what was an interesting change of pace, LSU (5-5) broke its 10 players into two units and split up the action between the media timeouts. This game plan worked against lowly UC Santa Barbara (0-10), but I would be surprised to see it again moving forward. Below is what Coach Nikki Caldwell said about that approach. The Lady Tigers will return to action at the Miami Holiday Tournament on December 28 against UNC Greensboro.
A few tid-bits in closing:
• Even though the season is still 55 days away, it’s never too early to get excited about LSU baseball, and two Tigers who are reason for excitement were honored yesterday. The two are LSU junior shortstop Alex Bregman and sophomore left-handed pitcher Jared Poché, who were named 2015 second-team preseason All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball magazine. For more on this story, see this article by LSUSports.net.
• Tickets for the 2015 LSU Baseball First Pitch Banquet are now on sale at lsutaf.org. The event, which signifies the beginning of the college baseball season, will be held at 6 p.m. on Sunday, January 25 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge. Former Major League pitcher Kyle Peterson, the lead college baseball analyst for ESPN, will serve as the keynote speaker for the banquet. For more info, click here.
• Last but not least, I’ll update our Ticket Exchange later today, so if you have any Music City Bowl tickets to see, please let me know.
If you enjoy these Daily Doses of Tiger News, please help assure this site’s future by donating to our fundraiser. Please click here to find out how and why.