Saturday night the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide blanketed the No.13 LSU Tigers 38-17 with one of the most dominating 2nd half performances a Nick Saban led team has ever had.
“We didn’t play great in the first half, but man I tell you what, a lot of character out there in the second half,” Saban said of his team’s performance in the final 30 minutes of the game.
Nick Saban’s decision to go for a fake punt on Alabama’s first drive of the second half may go down as the biggest decision he’s made all year. As Alabama’s defense was struggling to get off the field on third down, Saban felt the team needed a spark.
Jarrick Williams took a little shovel pass and picked up just six yards, but it was enough for the first down. The Alabama offense didn’t look back, scoring on three consecutive drives in the second half. The Alabama offense dominated every statistic in the second half, and the Tide defense, being rested, held LSU to just 52 yards of total offense in the 2nd half.
The Alabama offensive line in the second half was as dominating as we’ve ever seen from this group. After the big faked punt, Alabama completed a 14-play, 79-yard drive that took nearly eight minutes off the game clock, capped by a 4-yard T.J. Yeldon run.
“Alabama is not a big power team like they used to be. They run more zone, and it’s probably because they can’t be more physical. At LSU, we want to be physical and punch people in the mouth.” Those were the words of LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson before the game. In the second half he got all of the physical play he wanted from the Alabama offense, from the physical play of the line to the physical running from both Yeldon and Kenyan Drake as they ran over, through, and around the LSU defense.
In the second half the Alabama defense was not on the field nearly as much and it showed. With Alabama chewing off nearly 20 minutes of the clock in the second half, the Alabama defense got the benefit of watching from the sideline for much of the second half, but when they were on the field they were able to make stops on third down which it was unable to do in the first half. The final LSU drive was a fitting end on a dominating half, as the Tide defense swarmed LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger sacking him on four consecutive plays.
What more can be said about C.J. Mosley, the heart and soul of the Bama defense, that hasn’t already been said? Once again he was all over the field and though he dropped two picks, one of which bounced into the hands of the LSU receiver, he had yet another massive game with 12 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss along with two pass breakups. Landon Collins also played extremely well again, especially against the run.
The heroes of the 2012 Alabama-LSU game, AJ McCarron and T.J. Yeldon, were once again magnificent in this win. McCarron, always cool and collected, made big plays in the first half to keep Alabama in the game when nothing seemed to be going right with two huge TD passes. Yeldon was physical and shifty and was just flat out awesome in the second half. He ended the game with 136 yards and two TDs as he once again had a massive day against LSU. The biggest stat potentially of the game, though? Alabama had zero turnovers.
LSU turned the ball over twice in the first half when Alabama was not playing at its best and it may have kept the Tide in the game before the dominating second half.
There may have not been a more beautiful sight for Alabama fans than that of Nick Saban all smiles jumping into the arms of his senior QB as the final seconds ticked off. Saban and McCarron clearly have a very close bond that Saban may have not ever shared with another quarterback.
Alabama hit on every one of my “Keys to Victory” for this week. The Tide held LSU to just 43 yards rushing in the game and was able to affect Mettenberger with a pass rush. While not always getting to him, they were able to hit him countless times in the second half and recorded 5 sacks. Alabama was as balanced as ever, rushing for 193 yards and passing for 179 yards. Finally Alabama resoundingly won the penalty and turnover battle. LSU was penalized 7 times while Alabama was flagged just 4 times and LSU had 2 big turnovers while Alabama, for the second consecutive year against LSU, did not turn the ball over.
Third down conversions were a problem for Alabama in the first half on both offense and defense. Alabama converted just 1-of-4 on 3rd downs on offense, while the defense allowed LSU to convert on 6-of-7 which made life difficult for Alabama despite the close score. The Tide changed the outlook of that statistic completely in the second half, converting 4-of-6 third downs on offense and held LSU to just 1-of -5 on 3rd downs in the 2nd half.
As good as Alabama was defensively in the second half, there were at least three turnovers left on the field. C.J. Mosley dropped two sure interceptions while Deion Belue also dropped one as well.
The first quarter was just ugly for Alabama. Offensively Alabama couldn’t convert a third down and couldn’t get the passing game going at all, while defensively it didn’t seem like they could stop LSU whatsoever. The first quarter is one this team would like to forget, and after such a dominating second half it’s not too hard to do so.
Final stats from the game are below.
AJ McCarron: 14-20, 179 yards, 3 TD
TJ Yeldon: 25 carries, 136 yards, 2 TD
Kenyan Drake: 10 carries, 65 yards
Jarrick Williams: 1 carry, 6 yards
AJ McCarron: 3 carries, -2 yards
Kevin Norwood: 4 catches, 38 yards, 1 TD
Amari Cooper: 3 catches, 46 yards
DeAndrew White: 2 catches, 17 yards
OJ Howard: 1 catch, 52 yards, 1 TD
TJ Yeldon: 1 catch, 13 yards
Kenyan Drake: 1 catch, 10 yards
Jalston Fowler: 1 catch, 3 yards, 1 TD
CJ Mosley: 12 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups
Trey DePriest: 6 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 1 fumble recovery
Cyrus Jones: 5 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1.0 sack
HaHa Clinton-Dix: 5 tackles
Deion Belue: 4 tackles, 1 pass breakup
Landon Collins: 4 tackles, 1.5 tackle for loss, 1 fumble recovery, 1 pass breakup
Ed Stinson: 4 tackles
Jarrick Williams: 3 tackles
Brandon Ivory: 3 tackles
Denzel Devall: 3 tackles, 1 quarterback hurry
Jeoffrey Pagan: 3 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1.0 sack
Adrian Hubbard: 2 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack
Christion Jones: 1 tackle
Tana Patrick: 1 tackle, 1 forced fumble
Reggie Ragland: 1 tackle
Xzavier Dickson: 1 tackle
A’Shawn Robinson: 1 quarterback hurry
Cade Foster: 1/1 FGs (long 41 yards), 5/5 XPs
Cody Mandell: 2 punts, 43.5 yarders per punt (long: 44)
DeAndrew White: 2 kickof returns, 42 yards
Christion Jones: 2 kickoff returns, 41 yards