HZT POST-GAME: Alabama vs. LSU


Alabama remained undefeated while LSU fell to the middle of the pack in the SEC West pecking order and it somehow just feels SO RIGHT. The Barn is down in West Georgia getting their hopes up, LSU is overhyped and underachieving and the Tide are headed towards the promised land…..AGAIN. Les Miles has been dealt an unbelievable hand of talent over the last 5 years and it has carried him a long way, but no more, it all came crashing down at the hands of Alabama in a 38-17 victory that never looked much like the big time matchup it had been in recent years. Alabama cruises towards the end of the season rivalry game with the West Georgia Agricultural college while the SEC east is still cannibalizing itself.

This game was a great win for the Crimson Tide as a team, they were able to play, and look stagnant, at times ever giving Saban and staff plenty of “coaching points” to build off of while never really giving LSU any momentum to hold on to and they never looked like they weren’t in control despite the close score in the first half. LSU has lived and died by their emotional play, going from a team that could get a head of steam in terms of momentum and become almost unstoppable to a team searching for leadership and consistency. Two years ago, LSU would wait for opponents to make a mistake and then pounce on them, never letting up and riding that spark all the way to the 4th quarter game after game. This LSU team isn’t riddled with solid, experienced starters that do their jobs and allow the “wildcard players” like Tyrann Mathieu to run around causing trouble for opponents and it was never more apparent than at the beginning of the 4th quarter.

As the 4th quarter began, the Tide were marching towards the end zone on a 10 play touchdown drive capped off by a 1 yd TD run by Yeldon. Cade Foster kicked off to LSU with a 31-17 Alabama lead and Odell Beckham returned the kickoff 82 yards to the Alabama 18 yd line and seemingly deflated the Bama momentum. An LSU touchdown makes this a 7 point game with about 10:00 left to play & that is plenty of time to get the ball back after a defensive stop and tie this game up. It was LSU ball, First and ten at the Alabama 18 yard line, an all they could muster was a 4 play drive resulting in a loss of four yards. The Tigers had been given life by Beckham’s long kickoff return but CJ Mosely and his pals snatched that very life right back out of them with a four and out series resulting in Bama’s ball at the 22 yard line followed up by a 10 play, 78 yard touchdown drive to seal the deal……..The second Alabama stuffed that potential momentum swing, it was clear this LSU team just didn’t have the horsepower to keep the game within reach.

LSU is out of contention for the SEC West for the first time in quite a few years and it feels as though order has finally been restored. LSU has a simple but daunting task ahead of them during this bye week; RE-EVALUATE EVERYTHING and see how to keep from setting up camp in the middle of the SEC West power rankings. For the Crimson Tide the objective is to hold onto that offensive mindset of being more physical than the opponent and continue to improve the quarterback/receiver communication and timing issues while the defense needs to stay healthy and work towards improving the cornerback play. Next week the Tide will travel to Davis Wade stadium to take on the Bulldog’s of Mississippi St., who are coming off of their fifth loss of the season at the hands of Johnny Manziel and the Aggies.

Don’t Get It Twisted:

Of course the network gave Yeldon the player of the game award, but don’t get it twisted, the first quarter came and the first quarter went with Yeldon being the only Bama running back to touch the ball. TJ had 30 yards on 5 carries in the 1st quarter and as the 2nd quarter opened up it was Drake who came in as the Tide runner logging 31 yards on his first 2 carries and a 10 yard screen pass catch that gave the Tide offense a huge spark and opened up the play action for the offense. TJ got the reps and he got the bulk of carries but it was Drake who came in and gave this Tide offense a lightning bolt of a spark from the running game and got the LSU defense’s attention so hat’s off to you Drake. The split between Ingram and Trent was about 65-35, the split between Lacy and Yeldon was about the same but despite proving he has a special ability to make huge plays, Drake has still been relegated to only about 25% of the carries and it is a mystery.

Stats provide an invaluable source to paint a picture of production and tendencies but they never tell the story of how valuable or talented all players are so don’t get it twisted. I still remain confused as to the inability or refusal or play calling or lack of trust or WHATEVER it is that keeps AJ from targeting tight end OJ Howard more in the pass game because that kid has the ability to be the best we’ve seen since Ozzie newsome. OJ erased any curiosity or doubt outsiders might have had surrounding his speed or athleticism, as a 6-foot-6-inch 240 pound Tight End, with his 52 yard touchdown catch and run in which cornerbacks and safeties just couldn’t run him down. Howard wasn’t running all by himself with a head start, he simply took a good angle and hit a b-line towards the endzone and showed off elite speed for a Tight End. A player of his size who can outrun any linebacker, a lot of corners and most safeties is guaranteed to ALREADY have NFL scouts talking……why only one pass thrown his way though? Kudos OJ ! ! !

Often enough when a talented passing team is kept under wraps the credit goes  directly to the cornerbacks, and sometimes rightfully so, but not this one so don’t get it twisted. I’m of course a ginormous Tide fan, passionate about the games and program and have been that way as long as I can remember. I’m also a realist about the team and prefer to see a little deeper into the why’s and how’s of the success we’ve all enjoyed. Hat’s off to the defensive line, linebackers and safeties in this game because they were extremely effective and helped the cornerbacks out tremendously. Truth is that LSU’s receivers & Quarterback are better than the outcome suggests ( they still passed for more than TEN YARDS PER ATTEMPT & 241 YARDS) and although the corners for Alabama played “well”, they were overmatched across the board. The Tide’s Defensive Line/Linebackers put a ton of pressure on Mettenberger and hit him every chance they got, which over time really took its toll on his effectiveness and get inside his head. He is not a mobile QB, not even a little bit, so getting solid hits on him as he released each pass proved to be a huge asset. The good news is that Bama doesn’t face an effective passing team in the regular season from here on out and the barn’s new offense is predicated on the Quarterback running as much as the running backs so until the post-season, the Bama secondary can continue to slowly improve.

LSU was a team with the players to beat alabama but not the experience to hold it together. The Tide’s weakest link on the squad is the cornerback spot and the tigers couldn’t take advantage of this aspect of the game enough to threaten Alabama. The Crimson Tide Defensive Line played a little bit faster than usual, a little more intense and a little better than they had in the past which led to big time sacks but more importantly had Mettenberger picking himself up off the ground all night long. The key to stopping LSU started with the run game, Alabama shut down the prolific LSU running game to 43 yards in 4 quarters opening up the defense to target the pass game. Whenever the Tide makes an opponent one dimensional it kills any hope of disguising offensive plays and forces them to play man on man, straight up football, which almost always favors the Tide. AJ played as usual, solid and dependable but nowhere near flashy or impressive wit his numbers or difficult throws. He overthrew a wide open Kenny Bell on a flea flicker and missed on a few routine throws that should never be incomplete but he was efficient otherwise and got a lot of help from his receivers running after the catch. Saban officially gave his seal of approval to the McCarron camp to get publically political, in reference to the Heisman Trophy race, as he openly lobbied for his fifth year starting QB to be bumped into contention claiming his guy was the nations most underrated, underappreciated player.

* My player of the game is the entire Offensive Line, that group of guys have taken a public beating at times and have blocked it out, continued to do what Cristobal is coaching them to do and they’re growing stronger as a unit at an alarming rate. For all of the player losses the LSU defense has taken, that Defensive Line was its strength and the one position defensively they felt they could expose the Tide………..NOPE ! ! !

* Kevin Norwood showed up yet AGAIN in a big game on a big stage and produced. He doesn’t draw from being consistent or putting up impressive numbers but the guy is always in the right place at the right time in big games and he did it again.

* CJ Mosley is the MVP of this Alabama team and this season thus far. He’s the emotional leader, the quarterback of the defense, the example for ANY other player to follow who is seeking success in Tuscaloosa and the heartbeat of the 2013 Alabama season. CJ showed up against LSU as expected and was a monster against the run and making Mettenberger uncomfortable.