December 11, 2019

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WHAT TO EXPECT LSU VS BAMA: THIS ISN’T THE SAME OLD OFFENSE

Here we are, Week 11, the stage has been set for AP Poll No. 1 LSU (8-0) vs No. 2 Alabama (8-0) in Tuscaloosa. The Tigers come into Bryant-Denny Stadium being the ONLY team in the nation to beat four top ten opponents in a calendar year, trying to make it their fifth in the Tide. LSU and Alabama squaring off for what looks to be another epic match up of SEC West superiority, and the SEC Championship.

For LSU, history has not been kind to the Tigers in their previous 8 meetings with the Crimson Tide. Dating all the way back to their 2011 National Championship meeting, in 2012, Alabama has claimed that win and the last seven regular season wins against the Tigers. But history has a funny way of throwing you a curve ball every once in a while. With the College Football Playoff Rankings dropping last night LSU was seeded at No. 2 and the Tide, No. 3. The interesting thing about that number three seed is that, since the new playoff system was introduced no team in the number three spot from the initial rankings has ever made the playoffs.

Enough about history, LSU has become one of the most dangerous offenses in college football today. With the key addition of passing game coordinator Joe Brady, and some tweaking of a few things on the offensive line, the Tigers have been rocketed into the 21st century with a high powered offense and a trio of fearless receivers that have no problem going across the middle of the field and snagging footballs in traffic. Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall have over 1900 yards receiving and 25 touchdowns between the three of them.

“This is a big challenge for our team, playing arguably the best team in the nation right now, the way they are playing on offense, defense, and special teams.” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said during a call earlier today referring to the Tigers game play this season. “I think they are a very talented group, they’ve got good size, they’re very athletic, and they make a lot of contested catches.”

But it will not be just the receivers that the Tide will have to keep in check, tight end Thaddeus Moss is having a break out season, and is the fourth leading receiver for the Tigers. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a versatile cog that keeps the Tigers offense going. He has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield or when the passing game is slowed, like it was against Auburn, can slash a defense for big yardage. “Clyde is great in the run game and catching the ball out of the backfield, he is a very good runner.” Head Coach Ed Orgeron states over a phone call. “Thaddeus has become a weapon for us in catching, and in blocking in the run game. Those guys are versatile, I think our coaches are using them the right way.”

In previous years the Tide have had the luxury of focusing on one playmaker from LSU, and shutting him down would be the key to winning the game. In 2016 Leonard Fournette had a lot Heisman talk coming into the game. The Alabama front held him to 31 yards on 19 carries, his carrier low. Derrius Guice in 2017 was held in check to 71 yards on 19 carries. He was coming off a performance against Ole Miss where he rushed for 276 yards. In 2018 the Tides front four overwhelmed the Tigers offensive line and the defensive backfield was able to sit in coverage while quarterback Joe Burrow scrambled to find an open receiver downfield. Burrow would end up being sacked 5 times on the night.

With the explosion, and success of the spread offense for LSU, head coach Ed Orgeron has assured fans that it is here to stay. With quick reads and the ability to find receivers running in space this offense was brought in especially to dethrone the Tide from SEC West dominance. No longer will they be able to key in on one playmaker and shut him down. Now “the defense will need to defend every blade of grass” as Coach Joe Brady likes to put it.