Having completed week seven, we are at the halfway of the 2008 football season. Sad isn’t it. Of course if you’re an Alabama fan, up to this point, you really can ask for nothing more. Here is quick look at where conference teams are, where we thought they would be and what’s coming in the future:
The Tigers sit at second in the West behind Alabama with a 4-1 record (2-1 conference). They are coming off their worst loss in the the Miles tenure (and possibly since a loss to Florida in 1996) with the 51-21 humiliation at the hands of the Gators.
The Bayou Bengals were picked to win the West and play in Atlanta by some because of their strengths on the line-of-scrimmage and their depth. They also began the season in the Top 10. Week Seven saw all of that change.
After Florida hung more than half-a-hundred on them things are looking a little shaky in Baton Rouge this week. While stock in their vaunted defense took a tumble this weekend this is still a relatively good team- certainly better than the score in Gainesville showed. This team could very well get their act together and earn the rematch with Florida in Atlanta. Up next is South Carolina and then the Bulldogs. LSU needs to win those two games and use the next game, against Tulane, to tune things up for the showdown in Baton Rouge on November 8th when Saban’s new team, Alabama, comes to town.
Currently LSU is up and down when it comes to stats. Their offense looks relatively good as they are fourth (in the conference) in Scoring Offense (32.6 ppg), second in Total Offense (406 ypg), third in Rushing Offense (181.2 ypg), and fourth in Passing Offense (108.2 ypg). The defense however, is where things don’t look as good. This is mind-boggleing as the defensive line is full and deep with talent and LSU has hung their identity over the last seven years, in which time they have won two national championships, on a strong defense. Currently LSU is tenth in Scoring Defense (22.4 ppg), ninth in Total Defense (303.6 ypg), sixth in Rushing Defense (108.2 ypg) and ninth in Passing Defense (195.4 ypg). All very not-LSU-like numbers. The only promising defensive stat is that they are 1st in Opponent First Downs. Maybe this is because opponents score on them without the benefit of first downs.
A few other stats of note: the Tigahs are tenth in sacks (9) but they have protected their quarterback (2 sacks) fairly well. They are first in allowing fourth down conversions, which you would think would be a no-brainer due to the strength of their line but they are last (12th) in Red Zone Defense, with opponents scoring fourteen times out of fifteen attempts. Another telling stat about is their turnover margin, which is minus-four.
What does it all mean? LSU appears to have a good offense and a relatively poor defense. Granted, the Florida loss skews the stats a little but overall their defense has not been playing at the level that we have been used to. They opened the season with FCS-division opponent Appalachian State with showed a modicum of credibility but their other non-conference foes have been lackluster at best. Auburn was their biggest win to date, but that has lost its shine. Mississippi State moving the ball on them should have been the first sign of disaster and the Florida debacle should have everyone in Baton Rouge scratching their heads. I knew things were getting bad when I didn’t get a text from my hospitable but obnoxious LSU friend, who informs me how lucky Alabama is when they win, how bad they are when they lose, but never utters a peep when the Tighas struggle.
The bottom line is that LSU has the potential to still be dangerous, but they have more questions than answers at this point.