The ESPN Stats & Information group does an amazing job each week breaking down key areas in the biggest games of the week. It is no different this week as it previews LSU at West Virginia. Take a look at some of these great stats, which could be huge factors in the game.
One of the biggest matchups will be the LSU secondary against the West Virginia downfield passing game. LSU has allowed only two completions on throws of 15 yards or longer this season, while West Virginia has 14 such completions, including five touchdowns.
How often does LSU blitz? The Tigers have sent five or more pass-rushers on 39.2 percent of opponents’ drop backs this season. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging 3.1 yards per attempt and completing just one pass thrown beyond 10 yards.
Can Geno Smith handle the heat? Smith has improved against the blitz in 2011, completing 61.5 percent of his passes when opponents send five or more pass-rushers, including 9-of-15 for 132 yards in a win at Maryland last week. In four losses, Smith completed just 48.3 percent of his passes against the blitz, averaging 3.9 yards an attempt, with one touchdown to two interceptions.
Coach Dana Holgorsen is known for his unique formations. One is to have his quarterback in shotgun with multiple running backs in the backfield. In three games this season, Smith has gone 27-of-39 for 295 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions out of that formation.
West Virginia already has 17 completions of 20-plus yards in 2011, fifth most in FBS. Last season, West Virginia only had 35 completions of the same distance in 13 games. Smith’s progress will be tested against LSU, a team that he was 0-6 against with an interception on throws longer than 10 yards.
Smith has faked a run before 24.6 percent of his passes this season. He has used play-action effectively, averaging almost 10 yards per throw and five of his seven touchdowns have come after a play-action fake. Smith has completed 65.5 percent of his passes following a play-action fake.