Game Recap: LSU vs Georgia Southern - NinosCorner Sports | Efficient Sports Analytics...Successful, Relevant Data

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Game Recap: LSU vs Georgia Southern

Game Recap:  LSU vs Georgia Southern
by Nicholas "NinosCorner" Battle
Episode Podcast Link:  HERE
This upcoming Saturday, Texas faces LSU in, what should be, an epic match-up between two top-10 teams in the country.  This game means so much to each team.  Whoever wins will be catapulted into the driver's seat for immediate consideration for the College Football Playoffs.  Although neither team has yet to play a conference game, a win against another "Blue Blood" program will solidify them as a true contender this season.

Over the past couple of years under Tom Herman, Texas has won a few of these "big" games.  Last year alone, Texas beat Oklahoma, Georgia, and USC; all true "Blue Blood" programs.  LSU has done their part as well; beating Auburn, Miami, and Georgia during the 2018.  Both teams enter Saturday's game primed and ready to deliver a performance worthy of national attention.

Not only does this game have potential College Football Playoff implications, it is huge in the Texas/Louisiana state recruiting landscape.  The Longhorns and Tigers continually recruit the same players year in and year out.  LSU does a great job of "stealing" some of the state of Texas' best talent and bringing them over to the Cajun land.  In fact, over the past three recruiting cycles, LSU signed 9 recruits from the state of Texas, with an average rating of 5.8 (4-star talent), according to Rivals.com.  They're not bringing in Texas talent that nobody wants.  They are bringing in difference makers on each side of the ball.  With a win this weekend, the Longhorns can begin to decrease the amount of homegrown talent that leaves for a short ride down to Baton Rouge. With a Texas loss, the floodgate will continue to widen itself for Texas talent to make their way to LSU.       

BattleStat Number Definition
The BattleStat Number (BSN) for the analysis of a team showcases how efficient a team is by calculating the offensive and defensive productivity of a team. These numbers are categorized into two sections…Offense (BSN-OFF) and Defense (BSN-DEF). To calculate the BSN-OFF and BSN-DEF, Offense and Defense Success Rates (OSR and DSR) will be analyzed to illustrate how successful and effective a team is.  OSR and DSR are calculated by accomplishing successful plays.  Successful plays occur when a play gains enough yardage to keep an offense progressing towards a 1st down (50% of yardage on 1st down, 70% on 2nd down, or 100% on 3rd/4th down).  A higher number equates to a better overall score.

BSN-OFF
LSU's offense was phenomenal against a completely over-matched Georgia Southern defense.  The Tigers posted a 65.4 BSN-OFF and pretty much had their way with the Eagle defense.  LSU was extremely efficient in the first half of the game, where they posted a 103.7 and 88.9 BSN-OFF in the 1st and 2nd quarters, respectively.  During the first half, the Tigers played an extremely clean game.  They totaled 6 touchdowns, 312 yards of total offense, allowed no turnovers or quarterback sacks.  LSU played about as clean of a first half as they could have asked for, resulting in an overall 69% OSR for the period.  

The majority of LSU's offensive work was done in the first half.  The second half primarily featured many backup players gaining valuable game reps.  One thing that is very encouraging for LSU fans is their ability to create explosive plays with their revamped offense.  For decades, the Tigers have been a run-first team that constantly placed numerous running backs in the NFL.  It's apparent that LSU is "turning the page" on their offense and encouraging the use of "spread" principles.  

With their new offense, the Tigers were able to complete 10 explosive plays (XP), resulting in an XP rate of  14% over the entirety of the game.  To show the vast difference between traditional LSU offenses, and the one we saw this past Saturday, 9 of the 10 XPs were in the form of passes.  In past years, the XP run/pass ratio would be more even, with potentially the running game edging out the passing game.  The small sample size we've been given suggests that LSU is changing their offensive identity to adjust to more modern principles.   

As far as Georgia Southern's offense, there is not too much I need to say.  They finished with a 26 point BSN-OFF; 14 points below the NCAA average.  The Eagles tallied 82 total offensive yards, committed 2 turnovers, and had an abysmal 14.6% OSR.  

If I were forced to criticize LSU's offense for anything during their win, it would be the lack of ability to effectively run the ball against the Eagle defense.  The Tigers averaged just 3.7 yards/carry against Georgia Southern.  In fact, they allowed 7 tackles for loss in the running game against a Sun Belt Conference opponent.  LSU will definitely need to fix this portion of their game if they plan on having a shot at beating the Longhorns in Austin.  
BSN-DEF
LSU's defense posted a 58.7 BSN-DEF against Georgia Southern, nearly 14 points higher than the 45 point NCAA average. Their defense was extremely successful on all downs, posting a 68.4% 1st down, a 64.7% 2nd down, and a 91.7% 3rd down DSR.  LSU's defense also posted 4 defensive explosive plays; meaning plays in the form of an interception, sack, or fumble recovery.  Although the Tiger defense was very successful, they only had to defend Georgia Southern's run game.  The Eagles completed 48 offensive plays, with only 13 representing passing plays.  In fact, Georgia Southern passed for just over 1,000 for the entire 2018 season.  For the LSU defense, this was as one-dimensional of a game as they could have wished for. 

Georgia Southern's defense was just like their offense; not good at all.  The Eagles posted a 23.4 BSN-DEF, just shy of 22 points below the NCAA average.  Additionally, they created no sacks or turnovers; and allowed 7 total touchdowns.  There's nothing more I need to say about their performance against LSU.

QB COMPARISON
Considering Georgia Southern essentially plays a running back at quarterback, the QB comparison is highly dominated by LSU's Burrow, who posted a composite 71% QB Success Rate, compared to 11% for the combination of Georgia Southern's signal callers.  Additionally, Burrow was successful at a rate of 65% on 1st down, 80% on 2nd down, and 80% on 3rd down.
Saturday's game has the potential to be an early measuring stick for the direction in which both programs are headed for this season.  Both team have recruited extremely well over the past 3 seasons, with LSU having the edge at depth of talent.  However, the Texas offensive and defensive starters are every bit as talented as LSUs; and, in my opinion, at the most important position on the field, Texas holds the edge with Sam Ehlinger edging out Joe Burrow.  Ehlinger might easily be a top 5-7 range quarterback in the country, and in college football, quarterbacks of that ilk have the ability to carry a team on their back for a few games during the season.

I'm extremely excited to see the stockpile of Texas defensive back talent go against the stockpile of LSU talent.  Jefferson and Marshall are a great duo at wide receiver for the Tigers.  Sterns and Jones are a highly talented and productive defensive back duo for the Longhorns.  This is going to be a good one!  Can we start the damn game already?

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