Ranking Offensive Lines (Fun Stat Nerd Tidbit: LSU)

BATON ROUGE LA - NOVEMBER 06: Josh Dworaczyk #68 and Jordan Jefferson #9 of the Louisiana State University Tigers celebrate after scoring a touchdown against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Tiger Stadium on November 6 2010 in Baton Rouge Louisiana. The Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide 24-21. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

UPDATE: Existence And The LSU Tigers is up at the mothership.

"Don't talk much 'cause the pain is crazy/Times are hard, things are hazy/Lord, I'm so tired"
- "Bayou Song
," P.J. Morse

Soccer writing is, at different times, incredible and unbearable. Everything -- every pass, every flick, every flop -- is described as life itself, as existence, purity, good, evil and morality. When it works, and when it is at least semi-appropriate, this writing is beautiful and everything I want to produce one day when I grow up. But sometimes a pass is just a pass.

Writing beautifully about our football is a bit more difficult, perhaps because of the muscle and mass involved. At their essential core, football and soccer are the same sport: chess in which the pieces have a mind of their own. But in football, sometimes you make a play simply by (legally) bowling over an opponent, or by outrunning them (and not having to still beat a goalkeeper). There is occasionally no difference-making strategy, no innate question of life and mortality ... just one guy who is a lot stronger or faster than another. But to the extent that meaningful, existential thought can be applied to this beautifully flawed obsession called college football, Les Miles will probably be involved. To watch a Les Miles team operating on that wonderful, double-green, yard-markers-every-five-yards field at Tiger Stadium is to witness existence in all its beauty, humor, strength and ridiculous vulnerability.

--------------------

If LSU is going to win big this season (whatever "winning big" means in the brutal SEC West), it is going to be, in part, because of the running game. Nine of the top ten return on LSU's offensive line, and they'll be blocking for a trio of impressive sophomores. But how good is LSU's line? I figured now was a good time to attempt some line rankings. Today, with LSU: offensive lines. Tomorrow, with Boise State's awesome front four: defensive lines.

Here's what we're going to do: we're going to look at teams' Adj. Sack Rates and Adj. Line Yards ratings, and we're going to adjust the weight of each rating based on how much teams actually ran and passed last year (because who cares how well Air Force protected the passer when they never had to?). What you see called "OL+" below is the combined measure with which we'll rank 2010 lines. (To see how 2011 might shake down, I'm including teams' returning career starts as well.)

When it comes to offensive lines, it's important to differentiate between the most talented lines and the lines that were most effective for what they were asked to do. The rankings below are very diverse when it comes to major and mid-major conferences, but that makes sense to me. It is also important to acknowledge two things: 1) These rankings are skewed pretty heavily by the humongous range you find in the Adj. Sack Rate ratings (the best and worse teams according to this rating were infinitely more spread out than the best and worst in Adj. Line Yards), and 2) Adj. Sack Rate is affected heavily by the quarterback -- whether he gets rid of the ball in timely fashion, whether he scrambles into pressure, etc. But for now, there's no way around that. You go to war with the ratings you've got.

The verdict? LSU's line should remain solid in run blocking, but unless pass protection improves (which is on both the line and crazy old Jordan Jefferson), they will be limited.

Offense Adj.
Sk Rt
Rk Adj.
Ln Yds
Rk Adj.
Run-Pass
OL+ Rk Ret. Starts
Stanford 325.4 1 106.4 39 55.9% 203.0 1 50
Oklahoma State 271.0 2 115.0 10 43.9% 202.5 2 76
Boise State 265.9 3 105.8 44 51.0% 184.2 3 98
East Carolina 220.3 5 107.9 33 34.4% 181.6 4 27
San Diego State 232.3 4 87.9 99 49.3% 161.1 5 83
Michigan 192.5 8 126.2 2 56.4% 155.1 6 70
Nevada 191.6 9 122.2 3 60.5% 149.6 7 64
Houston 185.7 10 103.9 51 44.2% 149.5 8 52
Utah 200.0 7 96.0 76 50.0% 148.0 9 63
Indiana 185.3 11 86.2 103 39.6% 146.1 10 71
Oregon 207.3 6 103.7 53 60.5% 144.7 11 56
Penn State 163.1 13 108.2 30 50.2% 135.6 12 52
UAB 157.7 15 99.8 64 45.9% 131.1 13 118
TCU 156.5 16 113.1 13 61.3% 129.9 14 36
USC 135.3 22 121.8 4 49.0% 128.7 15 27
Miami 146.2 18 111.1 22 51.8% 128.0 16 74
Clemson 158.6 14 95.6 77 51.7% 126.1 17 118
Air Force 177.5 12 111.5 20 80.2% 124.5 18 41
Connecticut 142.4 19 110.2 24 57.6% 123.9 19 72
Texas Tech 139.2 20 99.0 65 38.9% 123.6 20 83
Kentucky 135.7 21 106.0 43 46.6% 121.8 21 77
Marshall 152.2 17 79.7 116 44.1% 120.2 22 63
Missouri 131.5 27 104.9 48 44.0% 119.8 23 105
Auburn 90.0 51 135.6 1 64.2% 119.3 24 15
Northern Illinois 134.7 23 108.3 29 61.8% 118.4 25 116
Minnesota 132.4 26 103.1 56 52.7% 117.0 26 60
Notre Dame 125.0 29 106.3 40 44.6% 116.7 27 63
Oklahoma 133.2 25 91.6 90 44.9% 114.5 28 81
Southern Miss 133.3 24 97.0 70 52.1% 114.4 29 39
Virginia 115.6 32 109.9 25 46.3% 112.9 30 82
BYU 118.5 30 103.5 55 52.0% 110.7 31 107
Louisiana Tech 114.5 33 103.1 57 50.2% 108.8 32 46
Louisville 112.8 34 105.1 47 54.8% 108.6 33 25
Ole Miss 128.4 28 94.7 81 59.1% 108.5 34 77
Pittsburgh 89.4 52 121.4 5 54.0% 106.7 35 53
Troy 116.5 31 93.5 83 44.7% 106.2 36 54
Ohio State 88.0 54 117.8 8 58.1% 105.3 37 77
Wisconsin 75.3 70 119.5 6 64.5% 103.8 38 74
Florida International 105.7 37 100.5 63 55.5% 102.8 39 50
Florida 101.0 40 103.7 52 54.9% 102.5 40 27
Toledo 107.5 36 96.2 73 55.0% 101.3 41 85
Washington 97.2 44 104.6 49 53.8% 101.2 42 65
Georgia Tech 65.4 95 110.5 23 79.2% 101.1 43 38
Baylor 94.1 47 106.7 37 47.4% 100.1 44 77
Army 71.9 78 105.6 46 82.5% 99.7 45 21
LSU 80.6 62 111.5 21 61.2% 99.5 46 78
Arkansas 84.3 57 118.2 7 44.7% 99.4 47 49
Navy 63.6 96 107.9 31 78.1% 98.2 48 61
Hawaii 103.2 38 85.7 105 28.8% 98.2 49 21
South Carolina 84.7 55 108.8 28 53.4% 97.6 50 70

Rest of list after the jump.

Offense Adj.
Sk Rt
Rk Adj.
Ln Yds
Rk Adj.
Run-Pass
OL+ Rk Ret. Starts
Cincinnati 84.4 56 113.5 12 44.3% 97.3 51 39
Maryland 101.4 39 92.1 87 50.7% 96.7 52 73
Texas 98.3 42 94.8 80 47.3% 96.6 53 36
Florida State 79.1 65 111.9 18 53.1% 96.5 54 115
UTEP 95.6 46 97.1 69 47.3% 96.3 55 7
South Florida 79.4 63 109.3 26 56.5% 96.3 56 62
Arkansas State 93.5 49 96.6 72 46.4% 94.9 57 28
Middle Tennessee 100.3 41 90.3 93 55.4% 94.8 58 104
Central Florida 81.5 61 102.4 58 63.6% 94.8 59 87
Georgia 73.1 74 113.9 11 52.7% 94.6 60 86
Mississippi State 69.4 89 107.4 34 65.4% 94.2 61 80
Illinois 57.9 107 112.4 16 65.6% 93.7 62 69
New Mexico State 108.6 35 80.2 114 53.5% 93.4 63 98
Colorado 97.9 43 88.9 96 51.4% 93.3 64 97
Ohio 73.8 72 104.6 50 61.2% 92.6 65 39
California 76.8 69 106.0 42 53.7% 92.5 66 85
Alabama 66.2 93 117.4 9 50.8% 92.2 67 90
Eastern Michigan 77.9 67 100.8 61 62.3% 92.2 68 64
Ball State 93.6 48 90.0 95 57.3% 91.5 69 96
Virginia Tech 62.7 98 112.2 17 58.1% 91.4 70 98
Purdue 92.5 50 90.0 94 54.3% 91.2 71 79
UCLA 71.0 81 105.6 45 57.3% 90.8 72 80
N.C. State 74.3 71 112.5 15 42.2% 90.4 73 60
Texas A&M 78.8 66 103.6 54 46.6% 90.4 74 86
Michigan State 72.8 75 106.5 38 51.5% 90.1 75 57
Oregon State 73.7 73 108.9 27 46.6% 90.1 76 91
Kent State 96.5 45 82.8 109 47.3% 90.0 77 89
West Virginia 81.6 60 96.0 75 55.5% 89.6 78 92
Arizona State 82.2 59 98.5 67 43.6% 89.3 79 84
Arizona 83.8 58 96.9 71 41.9% 89.3 80 1
Tulsa 70.5 84 106.2 41 49.5% 88.2 81 116
Nebraska 50.9 113 107.2 35 65.9% 87.9 82 40
Duke 89.3 53 85.1 108 41.5% 87.6 83 77
Iowa 70.7 83 102.1 59 52.4% 87.1 84 59
SMU 70.1 86 111.8 19 40.5% 87.0 85 158
Temple 62.0 100 106.9 36 55.4% 86.9 86 111
Syracuse 58.2 106 113.0 14 51.3% 86.3 87 57
Western Michigan 79.3 64 93.3 85 41.3% 85.1 88 50
Boston College 70.1 87 96.1 74 55.0% 84.4 89 50
Iowa State 65.6 94 98.8 66 51.8% 82.8 90 54
Wake Forest 71.0 82 90.8 92 57.7% 82.4 91 68
Western Kentucky 58.4 105 97.7 68 60.3% 82.1 92 71
Buffalo 77.9 68 86.0 104 50.1% 81.9 93 58
North Carolina 69.6 88 93.4 84 46.6% 80.7 94 60
Rice 72.5 76 86.7 101 54.3% 80.2 95 109
North Texas 59.1 104 95.0 79 58.1% 79.9 96 59
Kansas State 48.1 116 100.6 62 60.2% 79.7 97 42
UNLV 70.2 85 87.9 98 52.7% 79.5 98 36
Utah State 63.5 97 88.4 97 59.4% 78.3 99 90
San Jose State 71.4 80 85.6 106 40.7% 77.2 100 80
Northwestern 40.4 118 107.9 32 54.0% 76.9 101 137
Akron 61.4 102 92.0 88 49.7% 76.6 102 49
Tulane 61.7 101 93.1 86 45.5% 76.0 103 62
Miami (Ohio)
71.7 79 81.0 113 43.4% 75.7 104 98
UL-Lafayette 72.2 77 79.5 117 44.7% 75.4 105 28
Vanderbilt 55.4 110 94.0 82 50.3% 74.8 106 68
Idaho 66.8 92 87.1 100 36.6% 74.2 107 61
Fresno State 51.7 112 91.9 89 53.6% 73.3 108 40
Tennessee 57.8 108 91.6 91 45.1% 73.0 109 50
Central Michigan 67.6 91 79.9 115 40.6% 72.6 110 69
Kansas 39.9 119 100.9 60 53.5% 72.5 111 97
UL-Monroe 62.2 99 82.4 111 50.9% 72.5 112 94
Memphis 56.7 109 86.3 102 49.3% 71.3 113 34
Colorado State 48.6 115 95.2 78 44.6% 69.4 114 62
Florida Atlantic 60.3 103 77.1 118 50.2% 68.7 115 59
Bowling Green 68.2 90 67.0 120 40.3% 67.7 116 63
New Mexico 46.7 117 82.5 110 52.5% 65.5 117 20
Wyoming 53.4 111 75.6 119 53.8% 65.3 118 78
Washington State 50.5 114 81.8 112 46.5% 65.0 119 71
Rutgers 39.4 120 85.2 107 51.6% 63.0 120 89

In This Article

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