Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rushing game

Last year, LSU's leading rusher on the season was Jacob Hester with 440 yards on 94 attempts. Not so good, right? Yes and no.

Hester's effort was only good for 16th best in the SEC. In fact, every single SEC team had at least one running back go for more than 440 yards, and Florida beat 440 yards with their backup quarterback. Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina, and Vandy each had two rushers go for more than 440 yards.

Most teams, however, pretty much went with one or two guys in the rushing game. LSU had five running backs go for more than 200 yards. While we didn't have any one guy getting a lot of yards, we had a large number of effective rushers. Looking at our cumulative statistics, we rushed for 2155 yards on 450 attempts, for an average of 4.8 yards per carry. Here's how everyone else did:

Arkansas 3199 yards, 539 attempts, 5.9 yard average
Florida 2240 yards, 476 attempts, 4.7 yard average
LSU 2155 yards, 450 attempts, 4.8 yard average
Auburn 1927 yards, 470 attempts, 4.1 yard average
S. Carolina 1876 yards, 414 attempts, 4.5 yard average
Vandy 1795 yards, 385 yards, 4.7 yard average
Georgia 1656 yards, 426 attempts, 3.9 yard average
Alabama 1600 yards, 455 attempts, 3.5 yard average
Ole Miss 1504 yards, 422 attempts, 3.6 yard average
Tennessee 1404 yards, 382 attempts, 3.7 yard average
Kentucky 1282 yards, 411 attempts, 3.1 yard average
Miss. St. 1142 yards, 394 attempts, 2.9 yard average

Some observations:
  • Clearly Arkansas was on another planet rushing-wise last year. They got more rushing yards than Jamarcus Russell had passing yards, and Jamarcus was awesome.
  • Obviously, after giving props to the best rushing attack in college football last year up in Arkansas, LSU's rushing attack was more than just respectable. It was 2nd in yards, and 1st in rushing average in the SEC after Arkansas.
  • If Florida hadn't gotten an extra game (with the concomitant extra chance to add to cumulative stats) due to making it to the SEC Championship Game, LSU would have finished ahead of Florida in rushing yards.
  • Like I said before, Kentucky would have been awesome on offense if they could run the ball. This was a bowl team, and they had less than 1300 yards rushing last year.
  • Ole Miss was a below-average rushing team last year despite having a the 3rd leading rusher in the SEC (BenJarvis Green-Ellis).
That last point is especially telling. Ole Miss had the 3rd leading rusher in the SEC, but had only the 9th most team rushing yards and the 10th best rushing average. Combine that with the fact that Brent Schaeffer was the poorest-performing starting QB in the conference last year, and you have a really bad offensive team in Oxford.

But not as bad as Mississippi State's.

There's a lot more to say about rushing the ball, but it will have to wait.

1 comment:

Jason said...

I don't like running back by committee, but it's hard to knock anything when it works. We have the talent to use 4 RBs in any specific game and be effective. The problem is that usually RB by committee never looks like it works. Often it's done by a team that doesn't have a legit starter, or has no confidence in one back to carry the load. That's not our case. We could declare Williams our #1, but Hester is too good not to get 5 rushes a game. Ditto Scott. Perhaps Murphy in '07. Broussard if he is ever in shape.

Although he hasn't shown us a tendency to be a run-oriented coach, I (for some reason) think Les Miles is a run-oriented coach. If he is, then he's also smart enough to know when is personnel commands that he feature the passing game (Russell @ LSU, Rashaun Woods at OSU).