May 25, 2018

Keep An Eye On…

Tajh Boyd’s stats against LSU.

As the regular visitors are well aware this site is mainly focused on using metrics to analyze college sports. I’ve learned however, that statistical analysis is not always the answer. Sometimes your eyes tell you things that statistics can’t or don’t.

As I watched the Clemson/South Carolina game on November 24 I began to get a sinking feeling. That feeling was that Clemson’s offense struggles against physical defenses more often than not.

This theory was partially validated by the numbers we posted earlier in the week showing the difference in the number of plays that Clemson runs vs. non-top 25 defenses and top 25 defenses – 20% less.

But my eyes told me Tajh Boyd plays differently against South Carolina than he does against everyone else and South Carolina has a defense that is different from everyone else on the Clemson schedule including Florida State and the 2011 version of the Virginia Tech defense.

Furthermore, the defense on the Clemson schedule that LSU most closely resembles in my mind is – South Carolina.

LSU doesn’t have Jadeveon Clowney, but they have the next best thing – Sam Montgomery. They are big, physical and athletic.

Boyd v. Top 11

In looking back at Boyd’s play against top defenses over the last two years, there has been some success against Florida State and Virginia Tech, but has had two sub-par games against South Carolina, going 22 of 53 (41.5%) with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Boyd has faced 6 teams with top 11 defenses over the last two years and has completed about 51.6% of his attempts and averaged 215 yards per game and just under 7 yards per pass attempt in those games.

That 215 number is interesting because in the other 20 starts in Boyd’s career he averages 304 yards per game – 89 more yards per game.

This, of course, is not entirely Boyd’s fault and I’m certainly not implying that here. The pass blocking needs to protect Boyd (by design and execution), the running game needs to be a threat (and consistently used) and a myriad of other things need to happen for the quarterback to be successful.

However, Boyd’s numbers are a barometer of how the offense is performing in general. It’s difficult to complete passes when you’re running for your life. It’s difficult to complete passes when the running game isn’t working.

If Boyd is completing ~ 50% of his passes and on pace for 200 yards passing the Clemson Tigers will be in trouble. If Boyd’s numbers approach or exceed 60% completions and 250 yards while the game is in doubt Clemson has a fighting chance to upset LSU.

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