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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Statistical Review: Louisiana-Lafayette #54

Louisiana-Lafayette has the unique distinction of being the only team in the bottom 15 in plays per possession (5.4) while also being in the top half nationally in points per possession (25th, 2.61 points per possession). And they did this despite being 97th in average starting field position (71.3 yards from the end zone). In other words, they started a long way from the end zone, they didn't keep the ball very long, and yet they scored more often than most. They did this, in part, with explosive plays: 14.1 yards per completion and 25+ yards on 8.1% of pass plays. More importantly, Louisiana-Lafayette scored 5.79 points per possession in the red zone, second only to Oregon. This proficiency over average added a full 1/3 of a point per possession and was the difference between them and Texas State in points per possession.

The Ragin' Cajuns struggled to stay on the field in part because they converted only 38% of 3rd and 4th down attempts. This number is remarkable for a team that was 7th nationally in yards per pass. The second worst team in the top 10 in yards per pass in terms of third down conversions is 30 spots better (36th versus 66th). One part of the explanation may be that Louisiana-Lafayette did not have faith in their running game in short yardage situations; they were in the top 40 nationally in pass attempts in short yardage situations and they were stopped for a loss on almost 1/5 of rush attempts. Only three teams in the top 25 in yards per rush were caught in the backfield more often - USC, Wisconsin and Utah State.

Defensively, the Cajuns were unexceptional, except that opponents attempted field goals on only 14% of possessions. Their games were fairly high scoring so teams may have played past field goal opportunities. Teams may have been intimidating by the kick blocking potential. Or, more likely, it was just random chance that opponent's didn't kick a lot of field goals.

The Statistical Review breaks down teams along a number of performance categories, everything from red zone scoring to field goal percentage, and compares that performance against the rest of the FBS. All 124 teams will be reviewed from 124 to 1 by the hybrid rankings. You can find short descriptions of the stats used in the table below.

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