The stars aligned and we got our rematch. Various fanbases and sportswriters around the country may not be happy about it, but Alabama vs. LSU II is happening. I got home from a long drive Sunday night just as the news was breaking, and my first thoughts turned to how and why the second time around could differ from the first. I’ll leave the in-depth X’s and O’s discussions to more capable writers here at BamaHammer to tackle in the coming weeks. Today I want to present my first impression, gut feelings about the rematch.
Quarterbacks. LSU went exclusively with Jordan Jefferson last week, which I believe plays to Alabama’s advantage. This isn’t so much a knock on Jefferson but it allows the Tide defense to focus on one quarterback’s playbook instead of two. On the Alabama side, I have to think that AJ has grown since November 5th and the Iron Bowl. Hopefully he has learned not to throw anywhere in the vicinity of Morris Claiborne, and when backed up in his own endzone to either hand the ball to Trent or just get rid of it.
Don’t Kick to Sisquo, but Throw At Him. I refuse to use Tyrann Mathieu’s other nickname as I think it is asinine. He does look like the guy who sang the Thong Song though, so for our purposes I’ll call him Sisquo. As we’ve seen against Arkansas and UGA, Sisquo is deadly when returning punts. Bama’s special teams are anything but special in their own right, so there is no need to exacerbate the problem by punting right to him. Sisquo is also at his best when coming on the blitz. Fortunately our running backs are coached in blitz pickups. Coverage however is a different story.
The dirty little secret that you’ll never hear any analyst say is that Sisquo is terrible in one-on-one coverage. He was a non-factor in the first game (besides a cheap shot on Dre Kirkpatrick), and has been beaten numerous times this season. As I said before, AJ has no business throwing the ball in the same zip code as Morris Claiborne, so on passing downs the ball should go towards whoever is being covered by Captain Dye Job.
60 Minutes and Pride. Only sixty minutes of gametime in an Alabama uniform remain for Trent Ricardson, Barrett Jones, William Vlachos, Donta Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Mark Barron, Dequan Menzie, Robert Lester, Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks, Brad Smelley, Dre Kirkpatrick, Nick Gentry and Josh Chapman. There is too much pride on that list to leave Alabama with anything less than their best, most complete effort. Pride and Leadership have been hallmarks of Alabama football for decades and I don’t expect that to change next month.