Game Recap: Texas vs LSU 2019 - NinosCorner™ Sports | Efficient Sports Analytics...Successful, Relevant Data

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Game Recap: Texas vs LSU 2019

Game Recap:  Texas vs LSU 2019
by Nicholas "NinosCorner" Battle

Listen to Podcast Episode:  HERE
What a game this was!  The #9 Texas Longhorns fell short to the #6 LSU Tigers last night  in a hard fought and exciting college football game.  For the majority of the game, neither offense could be stopped, with Texas and LSU posting 530 yards and 573 yards, respectively.  This was a true quarterback battle between signal callers, Sam Ehlinger (Texas) and Joe Burrow (LSU).  The teams were pretty evenly matched for the entirety of the game with the exception of two plays:  1) Texas running back, Keaontay Ingram, dropping a touchdown pass on 4 down in the 1st quarter and 2) the Texas defense giving up a 61-yard touchdown on a 3rd and 17 play at the end of the 4th quarter.  Were there more mistakes throughout the game?  Sure; however, these two costly plays directly led to LSU's win in DKR on Saturday night.     

This time last week, I did not know how to feel about LSU's offense.  They were outstanding against Georgia Southern...but then again, it was against "Georgia Southern."  Seeing it first-hand against Texas solidified how vastly different their offense is from the past LSU teams college football fans have become accustomed to.  This LSU offense is LEGIT...I mean really LEGIT.  If you didn't know any better, you would have thought you were watching a Big XII conference game.  

Speaking on Power 5 conferences, I asked in a previous podcast whether the Big XII defenses are "bad" or if the Big XII offenses are just that "good" to where any defense looks vulnerable against  them.  If we are judging by this game, I think we know our answer.  The Tigers were a top 25 defense last year, returning 8 starters from last season.  Tonight, LSU's DBU gave up 409 passing yards, while Texas' DBU gave up 471 passing yards.  Neither defense tonight deserved to taunt that "DBU" moniker.  

Let's dig into the numbers now.     

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.

The overall BSN rates are shown in the below table. 
Texas posted an outstanding 56.9 BSN-OFF throughout the game; an extraordinary near 17 points above the NCAA average of 40 points.  For as good as this score was, the Longhorns were still not able to secure the win.  The Texas offense was on a roll early and moved the ball at will, especially during their second drive of the game.  The game-changing play was Texas' missed scoring opportunity in the 1st quarter, where sophomore running back, Keaontay Ingram dropped a wide-open touchdown on 4th down, resulting in a turnover of downs.  Texas was able to regain possession by forcing LSU to a turnover just three plays later; however, they were unsuccessful in scoring on the respective drive.  

Although Texas had an opportunity to "right" their "wrong;" you cannot do any favors for the LSU defense and spot them a touchdown from a poorly executed play.  The Longhorn's 1st quarter BSN-OFF would have been significantly different with a caught touchdown.  Texas posted a 41.5 BSN-OFF in the 1st quarter.  Scoring that touchdown would have negated the 2 turnover on downs the Longhorns had as a result.  Their new BSN-OFF would have been 77.2 for the 1st quarter, resulting in a 35.7 point composite "swing" in BSN-OFF scores.  

The Longhorns found their stride in the 2nd half, posting a 91.1 in the 3rd quarter alone, rallying Texas to a near comeback.  The offense was outstanding, tallying 352 yards of total offense in the 2nd half alone.  Texas' only problem was LSU's offense was even better during this period. 
Usually, the performance by the Texas offense would have been a high enough composite score for them to win the game; however, LSU's offense was better last night.  The Tigers posted 68.6 BSN-OFF, which approaches rare territory.  They posted a 1st quarter 45.9 score, a 67.8 point 2nd quarter score, a 64.4 3rd quarter score, and an amazing 97.9 point 4th quarter composite score.  LSU moved the ball however and whenever they wanted to, in a manner fans have never seen from LSU.  The Tigers passed the ball 64% of the time during the game, with a 58% success rate.  
LSU also created 15 explosive plays compared to Texas' 13.  Legendary San Francisco 49ers head coach, Bill Walsh, once stated that the team that creates at least one more explosive play than their opponent tends to win the game nearly 90% of the time.  Well, Walsh was right in regards to last night's contest.  The Tiger's last explosive play was a 61-yard touchdown catch by Tiger wide receiver, Justin Jefferson, that was the monumental play catapulting LSU to their win on Saturday night.  

I was skeptical of LSU's new-look offense; however, I am now a believer.  LSU incorporated an aggressive "pass-first" offense that resembles that of the BIG XII offenses.  Passing game coordinator, Joe Brady, is a true game changer for their offense.  If they continue this progression throughout the season, he may not be there too long.  What a performance from the Tiger offense. 

Honestly, these two defenses were pretty equally abused.  I was surprised in the ability of both offenses to score with such ease on each other.  For two teams that claim the DBU title, 872 total passing yards between the two teams begs to differ.  LSU posted a 40.1 point BSN-DEF, compared to a 36.3 for Texas.  Both teams were below the NCAA average of a 45 point BSN-DEF, with the Tigers nearly 5 points below, and the Longhorns just short of 10 points below.  Neither defense was good; however, LSU's stop of the Texas offense on the goal line in the 1st quarter proved to be the difference in Saturday's contest.  From that moment on, Texas continued to chase the 7 points they did not obtain, from that moment on.  

Both teams had very similar DSRs per down.  The Texas defense posted a 32.4% 1st down DSR, a 28.6% 2nd down DSR, a 50% 3rd down DSR, and did not defend any 4th downs against the Tigers on Saturday night.  LSU, on the other hand, posted a 48.7% 1st down, 27.6% 2nd down, 46.7% 3rd down, and a 66.7% 4th down DSR, respectively. As stated earlier, those goal line stops in the first quarter were the absolute difference maker in this game.  
Saturday night's quarterback duel was one for the ages.  If both teams continue to win in this fashion throughout the season, this game may be a deciding factor on which of these 2 signal callers will be in consideration for a potential Heisman trophy bid.  Burrow was the more efficient passing quarterback throughout the game, posting a 58% passing OSR, besting Ehlinger's 44% total by 14%.  Ehlinger was the more effective runner, tallying a 62% OSR rushing, compared to Burrow's 40%.  

On a per down basis, Burrow was far superior than Ehlinger on 1st and 2nd downs, resulting in 64% and 60% rate, respectively, compared to Ehlinger's 38% and 44%.  Ehlinger, however, did post a better 3rd down OSR than Burrow, tallying 58% to Burrow's 38%.  Although Burrow's 3rd down efficiency wasn't the greatest, it did not have to be during this game.  The Tigers scored 3 of their 5 total touchdowns on 1st down.  
A couple of weeks ago, I posed the question on my podcast of whether or not the Big XII defenses were as bad as people portray them to be; or whether the Big XII offenses are just really good.  I think we have our answer after Saturday's game and other contests over the past few years.  LSU's defense is an elite SEC defense that returned 8 starters from last season, where they finished 25 in the country in total defense.  This is a top-flight defense; however, the Longhorns were able to score 38 points and put up more than 500 yards of total offense against a team with 5 potential draft picks on their defense...and arguably the best defensive player in the country in LSU's junior safety, Grant Delpit.  

LSU looked like another Big XII team last night...a far distant representation of what a typical SEC team is viewed as.  The Texas offensive line seemed more physical than LSUs, and gave Sam Ehlinger ample enough time to complete all the necessary throws to put Texas in a position to win the game.  LSU did the same.  Last night's game was truly a "who has the ball last" type of game...eery similar to what Big XII fans have seen for years.  

The narrative needs to begin to change regarding the SEC and Big XII.  LSU wanted to get more explosive on offense, so they hired a passing game coordinator to open up their offense and insert spread concepts that are very similar to what every Big XII team runs.  The Tiger offense was very successful Saturday night, but so was the Longhorn offense. This isn't the only instance in which we're beginning to see this.  Last year, Oklahoma put up nearly 500 yards of total offense against Alabama's 15th ranked defense in the college football playoffs.  Baylor put up 668 yards against Vanderbilt in the 2018 Texas Bowl.  Oklahoma St posted 502 yards against Missouri in the 2018 Liberty Bowl.  Hell, even the NFL is taking notice.  The Arizona Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury after he was fired from Texas Tech for being a below average Head Coach.  The transition to explosive offenses is starting to happen, and I wonder how the narrative will change if LSU is able to post 500 yards each game against its SEC foes.    

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