Tuesday, August 30, 2011
By ESPN.com staff
You'll probably read plenty of good LSU-Oregon analysis this week. And some not so good, too.
Here are some interesting tidbits.
Brian Fremeau of Football Outsiders doesn't think the Tigers losing quarterback Jordan Jefferson to suspension is necessarily that big of a deal.
The LSU offense isn't expected to fire on all cylinders after undergoing a change at starting QB so close to the season, but the numbers show us that may not matter. The reason? If the Tigers can produce as many big plays on defense and special teams as they did last season, the loss of Jefferson could be negligible -- and they'll still have a good shot at knocking off the Ducks Saturday night.
Want to know why? Well, LSU is more about defense and special teams -- and being opportunistic -- than a high-powered offense.
For the season, LSU defensive and special-teams units created more short-field opportunities than any other units in college football last season. The Tigers started 24 percent of their drives in opponent territory in 2010, and only 11 percent of its drives from inside its 20-yard line. Those were the best marks in the country and the main reason why LSU was able to win 11 games last season with a less-than-stellar offense.
LSU outscored its FBS competition by a total of 127 points in 2010. According to our value distribution methodology, the Tigers' offense only contributed 15 points of that total season scoring margin. The defense (60 points) and special teams (52 points) chipped in the rest. Of the teams that contributed the most total non-offensive value last year, none relied on non-offensive scores as heavily as LSU.
And for LSU, slowing down Oregon means preventing explosion plays, for which the Ducks have become famous.
According to cfbstats.com, Oregon ranked among the top 10 teams nationally in almost every category of long plays from scrimmage. Twenty-two percent of the Ducks' offensive possessions averaged at least 10 yards per play, the eighth-best rate in the country. Eight percent of Oregon's plays went for at least 20 yards, the 10th-best rate nationally.
And if you want to know a little bit about LSU's new QB Jarrett Lee, here's a profile.
LSU players talk a little bit about focusing on Oregon here, and the Tigers will also be without a starting offensive guard.