Interpreting the LSU Victory over Alabama: or, How Bitter People Are Towards Defense

Not long after the LSU Tigers knocked off the Alabama Crimson Tide in overtime on 5 November, reactions began to trickle through the Internets!  And oh, how bitter some people were at that game.  From SEC-haters to people who formerly claimed to hate Twitter, there was much bitterness over the game itself.  It was boring!  Where is the offense?  These are the top two teams in the country?  Andrew Luck would shred these defenses.  Or just take these comments posted on some website:

–Neither team looked impressive, let alone “BCS worthy”.  The game was over-hyped, klutzy and, frankly, boring.  Please, stop the spin…..

–I was only able to catch the overtime but any game that contains no touchdowns and a fistload of missed field goals is no “game of the century”. Of course the SEC fanatics will spew out canards about the “great defense”

–Anyone who thinks either Alabama or LSU have a “college level QB” is just dumb!  This game was a bore because they neither have good teams, just mediocre teams with patsy schedules.

–Horrible, boring game. A bunch of big, fast jocks who can’t play as a team. No passing or kicking games.

–SEC football is considered “superior” not because the play on the field is great but because 100,000 screamin’, frenzied, liquored-up southerners on their way to the Piggly-Wiggly make it seem that way.  Seriously.  9-6 ?! Doesn’t even qualify as “Game of The Day.”

–Number one and numnber two—Balony! Real  number one and number two find ways to put up 7 points on the board at some point in the game. LSU and Alabama should not even be in the top ten.

And each complaint about that game missed the point.  It was not about style points, or being exciting, or 52-45 scores or shredding defenses.  It was about defenses shredding the offenses.

If you bought into the “Game of the Century” hype and came away from the Alabama/LSU game disappointed, then you are a fucking moron!  The hype was way overdone and should have been ignored from the beginning.  However, this game was between the two top teams in the country and these were teams built on defense!  And if you watched and became disappointed because there was very little scoring, then again you are an idiot because apparently you have never watched SEC football before in your life!

Let’s start with those defenses.  Going into the game, these were two of the top defenses in the country.  Alabama came in ranked number one in scoring defense, rushing defense, and scoring defense, as well as second in pass defense.  LSU was number two in scoring defense, top five in rushing and total defense, and top ten in passing defense.  The success of these two teams has been predicated on their defense, not their offense.  So, you knew that these defenses would be front and center in this game.

So, why would anyone expect a high-scoring game?  Ask nearly any college football analyst and they will tell you that these are STILL the top two defenses in the country.  To complain about the score and lack of trips into the end zone is to miss what makes these two teams great.

This is why the incompetent Chris Dufresne meanders through an argument that lacks any real value.  At one point he credits the defenses with being stellar, but then follows it up with questions about quarterback play.  Really?  You do recognize that in the case of Alabama, their offense is built around running the ball, yeah?  You do recognize that when Alabama won titles in 1992 and 2009 that it was NOT on the arm of the quarterback…but by putting quarterbacks on their backs!  Stick with what you know, which apparently is NOT SEC football!

And before I move on, Dufresne also thinks that it is reasonable to suggest that Andrew Luck would be able to pick a few holes in the defenses of LSU and Alabama.  Perhaps, as Luck is perhaps the best QB this season.  BUT, do not forget that Luck has faced some of the worst defenses in the country.  Let’s not pull a literally Suck for Luck just yet, Mr. Dufresne.

Nevertheless, you knew that defenses would be the star of the Alabama-LSU game; not offenses.  So stop bitching about the lack of scoring.  What made it even more humorous was these same people were praising the scoring-frenzy that was Oklahoma State v. Kansas State.  No complaints about the lack of defense?  Really?  If you were looking for offense, you should have been watching that track meet and not Alabama/LSU.  You knew what you were getting from the beginning.  Even if you bought into the pre-game hype, you knew that all of the hype was on the defense and NOT the offense!!!

Get over the defensive battle and lack of scoring.  That is what good defensive teams do; shut down offenses.  Pay attention to these things and you will learn not to be disappointed.

[QUICK SIDE NOTE: I do find it humorous that many of the same people who love a 9-6 defensive battle are many of the same people who hate soccer for its lack of scoring].

But what of those offenses?  Not great, to be sure.  But Alabama did come into the game with the 22nd ranked offense in the country.  That was better than nine of the twelve teams of the Pac-12; it was only middle of the pack in the Big 12.  Keep in mind that on average, Alabama did that against statistically better defenses.  Thus, the offense of Alabama was pretty respectable.  The same could not be said of LSU (81st going into the game).

Still, LSU held Alabama to a season-low 295 yards, over 162 yards below their season average.  That eclipsed the previous low by Alabama set in the Penn State game (359 total yards).  Alabama’s rushing total — the strength of the Crimson Tide — was the lowest on the season, while the passing numbers fell in the middle.  From LSU’s side, the 295 was the third-highest allowed by the Tigers; West Virginia (533) was by far the most, followed by Oregon (335).  Notice the opponents here — Alabama’s previous low was against a statistically high-ranking defense (Penn State at 8th), and LSU’s two highest yards allowed were against two high-octane offenses.  Alabama performed well against a top flight defense that has only yielded big yards against top offenses.

As for the LSU offense, their 239 was their lowest output of the season, beating out the 273 they put up against Oregon.  For Alabama’s offense, it was the second-most yards allowed after the 251 given up to Penn State.  LSU ran for 148 yards, the most given up by Alabama.  While it does not resonate as much as the examination of Alabama’s offense versus LSU’s defense, the fact remains that LSU found a way to move the ball against a defense that shut down teams all season.

Where was the offense, critics complain?  It was there moving the ball against the top two defenses in the country.  But when it came to scoring, those defenses tightened up.  One would expect a team like Stanford or Oklahoma State to be able to move the ball and score points when they get the chance.  Why not also expect Alabama or LSU to kill scoring chances whey they get the chance?

Now, I am by no means attempting to claim that Alabama and LSU are Houston and Oklahoma State.  And yes, I get that yards do not equal points, which were lacking.  And yes, Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson and A.J. McCarron are NOT Case Keenam, Nick Foles or Bryant Moniz.

But, McCarron’s 199 yards passing were more than Texas Tech’s Seth Doege put up against Iowa State, one of the worst defenses in the country, and only seven yards less than Andrew Luck put up against Oregon State, another poor defense.  Just saying.

Was this the “Game of the Century”?  Of course not!  Anyone who thought so going into the game was foolish.

But the same can be said about those who expected lots of points and offense.  How foolish can one be to have watched the LSU-Alabama game expecting 52-45!  Was it boring?  Yes.  But that is because “average” viewer has ADD and expects lots of action.  People love the big plays and high-scoring offenses.  So, it was “boring” in terms of action, but excellent in terms of defenses and strategy (even if some of it was questionable).

Recall the scene from Natural Born Killers where the old Native American is telling the story of the snake.  You turned on the game knowing what it was going to be.  Don’t be surprised that you got a defensive battle!

Or, to paraphrase the old man…”Look bitches!  You knew this was going to be a defensive game!”

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