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VARSITY NUMBERS: Putting A Bow On 2011

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The season-ending Varsity Numbers went up yesterday at Football Outsiders, complete with Alabama-LSU box score and analysis.

Some thoughts:

  • More than 40 percent of LSU's snaps took place on passing downs, and nine percent of their snaps took place on Alabama's side of the 50. Honestly, you can pretty much stop the analysis there. (Not that we will.)
  • This entire game was seen as another example of offensive ineptitude by some, but that was really only the case when LSU had the ball. Yes, Alabama only scored one touchdown, and yes, they were quite timid with the ball once they dipped inside LSU's 30, but a) they still turned bad field position into points multiple times, and b) they would have probably been more aggressive if their defense wasn't so insanely effective. When you've got perhaps the best defense of the last 20 years, you can afford to play it safe and settle for field goals. Alabama's offense was very impressive when it needed to be, and the Tide's ability to throw on standard downs was both unexpected and a sign of solid proficiency.
  • Alabama's first-down success (and LSU's lack thereof) completely and totally set the tone for the game. The Tide were able to avoid passing downs until they got into LSU territory. LSU fell into passing downs immediately. Alabama was not able to produce big play after big play by any means (LSU's defense, after all, was still mighty impressive), but they were able to stay on schedule for longer periods of time.
  • No, LSU's backup quarterback Jarrett Lee wouldn't have done any better than Jordan Jefferson; but yes, Les Miles should have probably given Lee a shot anyway. Jefferson's head was not where it needed to be after a series of mistakes (and an embarrassing interception), and even though he is certainly more mobile than Lee in the face of a pass rush (as Miles stated after the game), avoiding a pass rush doesn't matter if you aren't going to be able to pass effectively after you have dodged it. Then again, there was no right answer here, so I cannot crush Miles too much for his decision making.

Okay, it seems like I've put about 26 straight posts up with an Alabama picture. (Or, you know, three.) That's probably enough.