Posted: 1/9/2012 6:27:59 PM
*** Continued ***
Quarterback play will be the key to victory for both teams.
The last time Alabama played LSU, they knew they would be facing two QBs. Thus, they prepared for both. As it turned out Miles ended up going almost exclusively with Jordan Jefferson, and he ultimately was the difference in the game. Even most LSU fans concede that LSU would not have won the game with Lee under center the entire game.
Most Alabama fans claim that the perimeter-heavy run attack surprised Alabama, and that they weren’t prepared for it. Many also argue that knowing they will have to deal with only Jefferson the second time around heavily favors Alabama. I disagree for the most part.
Almost this exact same defensive unit had faced Jefferson last season, so they knew what plays LSU runs with him in there, and they practiced against those plays. LSU just blocked the perimeter plays extremely well, and just out-executed Alabama. If anything it was Alabama who had the advantage the first time around because Jefferson was not operating with a full playbook at his disposal. The problem for Alabama is that they weren’t able to capitalize on this advantage because they were never able to seize a significant lead in the game. Had they been able to that, a very limited Jefferson would have been exposed. As it was, LSU was able to stay very conservative because they were never more than a field goal away from a tie or a win.
This time around LSU offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa will have the full Jordan Jefferson package installed. Jefferson has not a great passer, but he does have a huge arm so wherever he throws the ball, it’s likely to get there in a hurry. What makes Jordan such a threat is his running and athletic ability. This puts a ton of pressure on the defense to be assignment sound the entire game. If the defense makes a mistake, they will probably find LSU celebrating in the end zone.
As far as Alabama defending Jefferson and the running backs in the run game, there really isn’t much to say other than Alabama will try to be assignment sound, tackle well, and be extremely physical. When Jefferson drops back to pass, they will employ the Tebow strategy. That is they will try to keep him contained in the pocket, and make him throw from the pocket. Jefferson and Tebow are most dangerous when they break contain. In fact Jefferson beat Alabama for some critical 1st down scrambles in the first game.
Despite being the butt of many jokes on Covers, Alabama’s QB A.J. McCarron is extremely talented, and will most likely find a job in the NFL when his collegiate career comes to an end. He possesses a NFL-caliber arm, and can make all the throws NFL scouts look for. Coming out of high school, McCarron was the #3 ranked pro-style QB in the nation, and a top 100 overall recruit. He is also a graduate of the Elite 11 QB camp. The point I’m making is the he has the ability and the tools, and he loves to stretch the field by slinging it vertically deep down the field.
McCarron’s problem is that Alabama’s offensive coordinator Jim McElwain has taken the bullets out of his gun and turned him into Captain Check-down. In other words, he’s turned him into Greg McElroy . . . yikes!!! From what I’m hearing around the camp fire, McElwain is going to take the chains off of McCarron for this game. I guess we’ll see.
One of my biggest concerns in the last game was LSU’s elite pass rush, particularly off the edges. Alabama’s o-line did a phenomenal job of stopping that pass rush dead in its tracks last game. If they can give McCarron time to throw the ball again, he should have a very good game.
LSU will attempt to use their speed to sack McCarron or to force him off of his square.. When McCarron is uncomfortable, or is force to throw on the move, good things rarely happen for Alabama. So LSU would like to get McCarron on the run and force him into mistakes. That is almost the exact opposite strategy of Alabama’s defense against Jefferson, because Jefferson is most dangerous on the run.
Both defenses still hold a pretty significant advantage of the offenses in this game, so I just don’t agree with those who are predicting that this game will go over the posted totaI.
For LSU to win this game Jordan Jefferson will have to be able to make some plays in the passing game, if for no other reason than to keep Alabama’s defense somewhat honest. And he may make some plays, but I don’t think he’ll be able to make enough of them to keep LSU in this game. Honestly I think the only way LSU finds the end zone in this game is either on a big offensive play, or some sort of non-offensive touchdown. Like the last game, I don’t think LSU’s offense will have any success in driving the length of the field and putting the ball in the end zone.
Also, like last time, I think Alabama will feature a balance attack and will have success moving the ball. The difference is that I think they will succeed in finding the end zone a time or two.
Alabama is the biggest, strongest and most physical team in college football, and their defense is in Terminator mode right now. Alabama will ramp up their physicality to a whole new level tonight which I think will result in at least one or two of LSU’s starters being knocked out of the game.
As I said in my first write-up, the only way Alabama loses this game is if they beat themselves, and that’s exactly what happened the first time around. I don’t think that’ll happen this time. I think we’ll see Alabama score in the 16-23 point range, and I think LSU scores in the 3-10 point range. I’ll take the two extremes and take Alabama winning the game 16-10.