Comparison: LSU versus Arkansas and Washington

Since we only have a week of football under our belts, the only thing we can do right now for comparison's sake is look at what teams did last year versus what they did this year. For LSU's comparison to last year, I decided to pick its game against Arkansas. Washington appears right now to be capable of hitting the 5-7 mark that the Razorbacks reached last year, and by the time the Tigers played the Pigs, Jordan Jefferson was starting. Plus, their strengths and weaknesses are similar as well.

As with previous comparisons, sack yardage has been removed from rushing totals.

OFFENSE

CATEGORY vs. ARKANSAS
vs. WASHINGTON
Total Yards 319
329
Passing 143
172
Yds. per Pass 6.8
9.1
Rushing 176
157
Yds. per Rush 4.3
5.6
Turnovers 0 1
Time of Poss. 28:15
23:08
Sacks All. 3 (-15 yards)
1 (-8 yards)

 

Despite similar totals, the LSU offense was more efficient. It gained more than two extra yards per pass and more than an extra yard per rush. The sacks also came down noticeably, which is always good. So why, if the offense was better, did it score roughly the same as last year (30 in '08; 31 in '09)?

Look at time of possession. It's down five minutes. LSU only ran 48 plays total against Washington, compared to a whopping 83 for the Huskies. The offense couldn't stay on the field, and the defense couldn't get off of it. Speaking of...

DEFENSE

CATEGORY vs. ARKANSAS
vs. WASHINGTON
Total Yards 425
488
Passing 280
321
Yds. per Pass 7
7.1
Rushing 145
167
Yds. per Rush 5.6
4.5
Turnovers 1 2
Time of Poss. 31:45
36:52
Sacks All. 5 (-27 yards)
1 (-10 yards)

 

If you ignore the totals and look at the efficiency stats, the LSU defense was noticeably better. It held Jake Locker down to the same per pass average as the Dick brothers combined for, which is an accomplishment when you think about how much better Locker is. The per carry average allowed was a yard less too, and they forced an additional turnover. The sacks were way down, but that's likely due to Locker being mobile while the Dick brothers were sitting ducks in the pocket.

But yes, the total yardage was up everywhere thanks to that time of possession increase. LSU's per pass and per rush averages were higher and the Tigers had the edge in yards gained per minute too (13.88 to 12.97). Had the Tigers simply ran more plays while getting Washington to run fewer, the box score would have evened out and possibly even switched.

So, the LSU offense is a bit better right now than it was at the end of last year. The defense is better too, at least on a play-by-play basis. We'll get to see how much better as these teams play more opponents. It won't matter a whole lot though if that defense remains unable to get opposing offenses off the field.

Previous Comparison: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky.

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