Clemson big-play passing game meets match in LSU

The Clemson Sports Blog

Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins celebrates with teammate Jaron Brown catches after catching a 43-yard touchdown pass over South Carolina's Akeem Auguste in the first quarter against South Carolina on Saturday.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins celebrates with teammate Jaron Brown catches after catching a 43-yard touchdown pass over South Carolina's Akeem Auguste in the first quarter against South Carolina on Saturday.

It’s the most important stat in college football, besides, the final score. Clemson racks it up, and LSU shuts it down.

I’m talking yards per pass attempt, which when teams had the advantage in it – won 76.2 percent of games in 2012 and 78.8 per last season.

Dabo Swinney’s Tigers are sixth nationally in yards per pass (9.04), while the Bayou Bengals are 10th in yards per pass allowed (5.7).

On the flipside, LSU averages offensively (7.5) about what Clemson gives up (7.44), and it’s about the same in yards per play (Clemson giving up 5.7 to LSU’s 5.6).

Category Clemson LSU
Yards Per Pass 9.04 5.7
Yards Per Play 6.5 4.5
Total Yards 518.3 296.2
Rushing Yards 198.8 101.8
Yards Per Carry 4.4 3.1
Rushes Per Game 44.8 32.5
Turnover Margin +1.25 +.25

Part of Les Miles’ Tigers having a full turnover edge in turnover margin is a ball-hawking defense – 9th in interception percentage (4.42). Clemson is in the bottom tier (worst 30 teams) in INT percentage thrown (3.3).

Also worth exploring from the numbers is the rushing stats.

It’s no secret LSU wants to establish the run (more on this later in the week when our bowl preview special edition is out) – around 60 percent of playcalls runs.

Clemson runs the ball a little over 55 percent of the time, at 44.8 attempts per game, averaging slightly more than LSU per carry (4.4-4.3). What’s interesting is Bayou Bengal opponents ran about 12 less times per game than Clemson’s Tigers – LSU ranking ninth in rush defense (101.8 YPG).

If the run isn’t there early, will Chad Morris go away from it like everyone else against them? Establishing a ground game in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve could very well correlate to the advantage in yards per pass.

Category LSU Clemson
Yards Per Pass 7.5 7.44
Yards Per Play 5.6 5.7
Total Yards 387.2 411
Rushing Yards 179.9 160.7
Yards Per Carry 4.3 4.2
Rushes Per Game 41.8 38.3
Turnover Margin +1.25 +.25

The Long and Short of It

Marty Coleman of Seldom Used Reserve calculated Clemson’s 50-yard plays and short-yardage success.

The Tigers had 12 plays of 50 or more yards, with DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins making up five of them each. Hopkins had catches of 58, 58, 58, 60 and 62 yards, while Watkins caught three (50, 57, 61) and rushed (58) and passed (52) for one.

The longest play of the season was a Tajh Boyd connection with tight end Brandon Ford for 69 yards.

In short-yardage, Tiger fans can be thankful a troubling 2011 stat didn’t trend into this season.

In third-and-one and fourth-and-one situations, Clemson converted just 63.9 percent of the time in year one under Morris, but in year two, they jumped to an 85.7 percent success rate (30-35).

One factor, he notes, is Boyd’s increased mobility, converting on 15-of-16 tries.

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Comments » 5

Xander5000 writes:

Big plays will have a chance to be there for Clemson on both sides of the ball here and there. Short yardage for first downs and scores are what is going to be so huge in this game.

68Scot writes:

The stats that were racked up against weak competition mean absolutely nothing. Clemson has played 2 teams ranked in the the BCS top 50 and lost both games. LSU has a very good defense against the run and Boyd will not have time to pass the ball. Dabo will probably fire another assistant coach after the game to get the heat off his back again. GEAUX TIGERS!!!

TigerMarine writes:

Johnny footballs unit is the ONLY top 25 offense LSU has seen all year.

FlopEye writes:

On the side:
Just read a disturbing item on Facebook that
Clemson had only sold 9,000 of it's allotted
15,000 tickets to Atlanta. Anyone have an
update?

DMM writes:

in response to FlopEye:

On the side:
Just read a disturbing item on Facebook that
Clemson had only sold 9,000 of it's allotted
15,000 tickets to Atlanta. Anyone have an
update?

FlopEye I'm not surprised. There are many Clemson fans not going to ATL after the South Carolina loss. That was a must win game for a lot of folks who now see this is a business decision - throwing good money after bad. No need to spend a minimum of $1K depending on where you are coming from to see this team that has folded against superior competition. As sorry as I am to say it and as sad as it is, it's just a fact. I would bet if Clemson had beat SC, their allotment would have sold out the first or second day. That loss took the wind out of a lot of sails and cost Clemson a lot more than an L in November - even some of the most die hard of fans are choosing to stay home.

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