CFP committee chairman discusses how much LSU's inconsistent defense factors into team's ranking
Outside of the state of Ohio, you won’t find many college football fans that would truthfully argue against LSU being ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation by the College Football Playoff committee. Thus, it was no surprise to see the Tigers placed at the top of the updated CFP rankings on Tuesday evening.
However, despite LSU’s undefeated season, its strong resume, and its outstanding offense, featuring the likely Heisman Trophy-winner at quarterback, questions remain regarding just how elite the Tigers are this season. Most notably, Dave Aranda’s defense continues to give up big plays on a consistent basis.
Last weekend against Ole Miss, LSU surrendered 402 rushing yards and 614 total yards of offense. While those numbers are alarming, it should be noted that freshman John Rhys Plumlee was one of the SEC’s best-kept secrets heading into the game and he’s been mostly sensational since his debut against Cal back on Sept. 21.
That hasn’t stopped many from questioning LSU’s defense effort, however, including the team’s safety, JaCoby Stevens.
“I was embarrassed for LSU defense,” Stevens said after reviewing the film from the Ole Miss game. “Defensively, we didn’t put out a great representation of how we practice and how we play.”
“I feel like we were getting dominated. Ole Miss in the second half pretty much did whatever they wanted to do. That’s not how we’re supposed to play defense. That’s not how LSU defense is played. … If we were a bunch of scrubs, if we didn’t have the talent that we have, I wouldn’t have said nothing at all, I would’ve just thrown my hands in the air and been like we probably need to recruit better. We have guys that are elite talent guys, guys that are professional all over the place, and guys that can go first round next year. We just didn’t play like that as a defensive unit Saturday.”
Following the latest CFP rankings reveal, committee chairman Rob Mullens was asked how much LSU’s inconsistent defense is discussed when the Tigers come up in the committee room.
“In the committee room, we do talk about the different phases of the game for sure,” Mullens answered. “But again, we’re watching the games, looking at exactly how it happens. But we are talking about phases.”
Mullens was then asked a follow-up question regarding how the committee values a team that is more balanced compared to one that may be more outstanding on one side of the ball than the other.
“Well, results are the most important thing. Let’s start with that,” he said. “But sure, when you dig beyond the results, we’re looking at the how, and so we are looking at offense, defense and special teams.”
While all aspects of a team are discussed, LSU’s offense has shown almost no sign of weaknesses this season and as long as the Tigers keep winning, there doesn’t appear to be any reason for them to drop from the top spot in the committee’s rankings.