Stats give Tigers reasons for optimism

BATON ROUGE, La. -- If you are looking for reason for optimism for the 2012 LSU football teams, our friends at ESPN Stats and Information have given you some. Each week they give us statistical nuggets to chew on and this week they gave us three suggesting the Tigers might be as good, or better, than 2011 (Data from Stats and Information are in bold):

LSU has generated QB pressure on 40.3 pct of their opponents pass attempts. Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery have five QB pressures each. Of those pressures, 60.9 pct came on a four-man rush or less.

The Tigers are pressuring the quarterback and are getting it done without needing extra help, which means the defensive line is living up to the hype. Defensive coordinator John Chavis is not having to reach into his bag of blitzes and exotic looks so as the quality of opponent gets better, LSU should have some blitzes and different looks that might compensate for the more competitive opponent.

Zach Mettenberger has completed 60.0 pct of his passes on 10+ yards in 2012. From 2009-2011, LSU quarterbacks completed just 42.9 pct of such passes.

Is Mettenberger making LSU a better downfield passing team? You'd better believe it. The statistic above verifies it. If defenses commit to stopping the run, this Tigers team is better equipped to make it pay with downfield passes.

LSU’s 2012 opponents are completing just 29.4 pct of passes of 10+ yards. Since week 10 of the 2011 season Alabama was the only team to complete at least 50 percent of such passes in the BCS National Championship.

This goes hand-in-hand with the first statistic. Because the Tigers generate pressure with the front four, they have plenty enough people in coverage to get the job done. Combine that with the fact that freshman cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins have, so far, proven to be more than competent at individual coverage and you have the makings of an efficient pass defense.

Add it all up and you get an improved offense via a better downfield passing game and a defense that has shown little sign of drop off in pass coverage despite heavy secondary attrition, thanks to continued recruiting success in the secondary mixed with the return of a dominant defensive line.