This week we bring you our second numbers-centric breakdown of the SEC’s biggest game of the week. On most weeks this fall — when he’s not in California watching his own son play college football — guest analyst Ralph Miranda will provide us with a quick Tuesday breakdown of CBS’s Game of the Week or another big game airing on ESPN.
Ralph knows the game. He was a walk-on linebacker for Notre Dame’s 1977 national championship team and he also served as color analyst for Vanderbilt football games on television in the 1990s.
We think his short breakdowns — focusing on stats that coaches often say are the most important stats in football — will give you a little something extra as we wrap up one week and roll into the next.
And now, I turn it over to Ralph for his breakdown of LSU’s 23-21 victory over South Carolina.
South Carolina — 2 (0 fumbles, 2 interceptions)
LSU — 1 (0 fumbles, 1 interception)
1st & 10 Plays Covering 4+ Yards:
South Carolina — 23 1st & 10 plays / 9 of 4 or more yards
LSU — 31 1st & 10 plays / 14 of 4 or more yards
3rd Down Conversions:
South Carolina — 3 of 13 (23%)
LSU — 11 of 19 (58%)
Explosive Plays Covering 20+ Yards:
South Carolina — 3
LSU — 5
Three Keys To Victory:
1. Move the Chains
This was a fairly evenly played ball game until you look at 3rd down efficiency. South Carolina converted only 23% on 3rd down and LSU converted 58%. When you analyze this stat you see that LSU had more plays (about 14) than USC in the ball game and ultimately more opportunities for big plays. When you can’t keep your defense off the field by converting on 3rd down you are eventually going to wear those guys down.
2. Stop the Run
LSU backs ran for 258 yards on 53 carries for an average of 4.9 per carry. LSU’s game plan to handle a player as talented as Jedaveon Clowney was to run right at him. Clowney pursues down the line extremely well so LSU ran the point of attack right on him. The LSU offensive line did an exceptional job neutralizing the USC defensive line and the Gamecock linebackers had difficulty shedding blockers all night long. Football is a simple game really… and when you can run the ball effectively you usually win.
3. Defense wins Championships
LSU has played exceptional defense for years. Last Saturday night was no different. The Tigers held Marcus Lattimore to an average of about two yards per carry and South Carolina to a total of 34 yards rushing. As much difficulty as the USC linebackers had all night; conversely the LSU linebackers played that much better. The defensive line occupied blockers and the Tiger LB’s made plays. When your opponent can’t run it and when they can’t convert on the 3rd down passing… they’ll usually lose. Ultimately this proved to be the case.