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A sneak peak at LSU
This is not the time to be playing an LSU
Malamute, 18 May 2009

While it's too early to do a side-by-side comparison of Washington's first-game opponent, LSU, I thought I'd take a quick peak at its statistics from last year and examine its prognosis for  this upcoming season.

LSU finished 8-5 last season, 3-5 in the SEC, and mauled Georgia Tech 38-3 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

LSU returns 13 starters, 7 on offense and 6 on defense, with no specialists.

Led by head coach Les Miles (70-32 overall; 42-11 at LSU), the Tigers won the BCS championship in 2007, that is, the MYTHICAL national championship -- not a real one.

Table 1. Returning offensive starters

LT Ciron Black 6-5 325 Sr.
RG Lyle Hitt 6-2 289 Sr.
RT Joseph Barksdale 6-5 315 Jr.
TE Richard Dixon 6-3 246 Sr.
WR Brandon LaFell 6-3 209 So.
QB Jordan Jefferson 6-4 209 So.
RB Charles Scott 5-11 233 Sr.


Table 2. Returning Defensive Starters

LT Charles Alexander 6-3 310 Sr.
LB Perry Riley 6-1 240 Sr.
LB Kevin Sheppard 6-3 237 Jr.
CB Chris Hawkins 6-1 184 Sr.
SS Harry Coleman 6-2 205 Sr.
CB Patrick Patterson 6-1 205 So.

Over at ESPN.com, Mark Schlabach predicts a 12th place finish for the Tigers this upcoming season.

Prognosis: He writes, "What was more stunning last season? Watching LSU's once-ferocious defense allow 134 points combined in losses to Florida, Georgia and Ole Miss or watching the Tigers completely dismantle Georgia Tech 38-3 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl? The Tigers were plagued by poor quarterback play and a surprisingly porous defense during their national title defense last season. Coach Les Miles hired former Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis to shore up the defense, and the Tigers responded with more aggressive play during spring practice. Sophomore Jordan Jefferson, who started the final two games at quarterback last season, showed more consistency during the spring. Tailback Charles Scott and receiver Brandon LaFell are proven playmakers, and the offensive line should be pretty solid. The defensive line must be rebuilt, but end Rahim Alem and tackle Drake Nevis looked like solid players during the spring."

Warning: Husky fans, please don't pin your hopes for an upset based on the Tigers' unimpressive statistics from last season (see Table 3).

Spring: Five signees from the 2009 class matriculated at LSU and joined spring practice. Scout.com ranks that class third in the nation and lists five 5-star and nine 4-star recruits among them. During the spring game played in April, the White squad, made up of first and third-stringers, secured a 27-0 win over the Purple squad. RB Charles Scott led all players with 70 yards rushing and a pair of TDs, while QB Jordan Jefferson connected on 8-of-10 passes for 97 yards.

The senior Scott is scary at 5-11, 233 pounds, for he can run between the tackles or take it to the edge. Last season, he rushed 217 times for 1174 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

Playing in 7 games, Jefferson completed 36 of 73 passes for 282 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 pick. He posted a passing efficiency rating of 112.9.

The other quarterback, Jarrett Lee played in 11 games in 2008, completing 143 out of 269 passes for 1873 yards. Though throwing 14 touchdown passes, he  had 16 passes picked off. The Tigers finished 67th in the nation in turnover margin last season and finished 80th in pass efficiency offense.

Path to the BCS championship: LSU is one of those SEC juggernauts that plays a soft out-of-conference schedule and a limited conference schedule (8 teams out of a possible 11). Last season, the Tigers drew over 90,000 fans at home for each of its victories over Appalachian State, North Texas, Troy and Tulane.

Before colliding in the 2007 BCS title game, Ohio State and LSU between them  had dispatched the likes of Youngstown State, Akron, Washington, Kent, Middle Tennessee State, Tulane, and Louisiana Tech.

It's no wonder the Tigers are recklessly venturing to a place located west of the Rockies for their opening game in 2009, this meeting against a team that went 0-12 on last season. The Huskies were in a tailspin when this game was scheduled.

The only time LSU has played Washington was in 1983, in a game the Tigers won, 40-14, at Baton Rouge. UW athletics director Scott Woodward remembers attending the game as a student at LSU.  See Steve Kelley's take on Woodward, "Unexpected path is right one for UW." Also, note that Woodward is pictured above.

Cutting teeth: Playing LSU at this time in Steve Sarkisian's head-coaching infancy is not the right path for UW to take, in fact it's part of a ruinous path that includes a game at South Bend with Notre Dame. The Huskies should be playing an Appalachian State in its first game, with my apologies to its fine coach Jerry Moore, along with an 8-game Pac-10 schedule instead of the disastrous round-robin format. Just my opinion.

Risk/Reward: The nationally televised game will be a money-maker for Washington, with most likely a full house in attendance. Down the line it could be part of another abysmal season that hurts recruiting. Of course, if UW wins...

Hope and ifs: Based on some number crunching I did, I expect UW quarterback Jake Locker to have a good day throwing against the "Baton Rouge Bayous," posting a PE of 120 or more. The other "Ifs" are left to the reader.

 

Table 3. LSU statistics from the 2008 season -- these are unimpressive stats considering the four patsies on its schedule, but Washington's stats are far worse. Don't pin your hopes on these numbers, Husky fans.

1. BALL CONTROL

Time of Possession:

2. BLOCKING AND TACKLING

Rushing Offense: 166.77 (43rd)
Passing Offense: 201.31 (71st)
Rushing Defense: 110.15 (15th)
Passing Defense: 215.38 (73rd)
Pass Efficiency Defense: 116.62 (42nd)
Pass Efficiency Offense: 117.44 (80th)
Total Offense: 368.08 (55th)
Total Defense: 325.54 (32nd)

3. MISTAKES

Penalties:
Turnover Margin: -.08 (67th)

4. FIELD POSITION

Kickoff Returns: 19.50 (99th)
Punt Returns: 12.26 (19th)
Punting (Net Per Punt): 37.32 (23rd)
Kickoff Coverage:

5. SCOREBOARD BABY:

Field Goals:
Redzone Offense:
Redzone Defense:
Points For: 30.92 (30th)
Points Against: 24.15 (56th)

 

Richard Linde can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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