By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
LSU WILL WIN IF …
Getting Wide: LSU may have been able to gash a porous Ole Miss defense without completing a pass to any of its wide receivers, but it’s nearly impossible to move the ball on Alabama without major contributions from pass catchers on the outside. Most of the Tide’s losses in recent years have come against dual-threat quarterbacks and receivers capable of winning one-on-one battles on the outside. DJ Chark has shown some ability to do so, particularly in the comeback win against Auburn, but LSU needs more from all of its receivers in the passing game against the nation’s best run defense.
Don’t Miss Tackles: Alabama’s preferred style of football is a grinding, downhill running attack to set up Jalen Hurts and the play action game. At nearly 300 yards per game on the ground, the Crimson Tide rank seventh nationally. They do it by rotating in a host of big-bodied running backs in hopes of wearing down the opponent through brute force. Even off a bye week, LSU is still a bit too thin up front to withstand that punishment if it continues to miss tackles at the rate it has in recent weeks. Those misses keep drives alive.
ALABAMA WILL WIN IF …
More of the Same: Alabama has beaten LSU seven straight times because the Crimson Tide have consistently been able to stifle the Tiger running game and tee off on whoever is playing quarterback. That was certainly the case in a 10-0 shutout at Tiger Stadium last November. LSU’s offense runs the ball in different ways under Matt Canada, utilizing pre-snap motions and sweep actions to create confusion, but the recipe for Alabama hasn’t changed. Bottle up Derrius Guice and allow its crew of edge rushers to exploit a leaky offensive line and harass Danny Etling into mistakes.
Hurts So good: LSU managed to make a then true freshman Hurts look awfully ordinary in a scoreless game through three quarters last year before he broke free for the game’s only touchdown. The Tide quarterback has played more efficiently this season, though he hasn’t been asked to do too much with few Alabama games remaining competitive into the second half. His accuracy — a hot-button issue this offseason — will be tested against LSU’s cornerback trio of Donte Jackson, Kevin Toliver and Greedy Williams, all of whom have played at an exceedingly high level during the three-game winning streak.