LSU vs. Alabama: 5 Questions For Death Valley Voice


Alabama must run a gauntlet for the remainder of the season in order to have a shot at the College Football playoff. It begins Saturday when the Crimson Tide travel to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers.

Alabama vs. LSU has been a marquee matchup since the arrival of Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa. Losses to Mississippi State and Auburn were thought to have scuttled the Tiger’s season, but they have come thundering back. Now this matchup will go a long way toward determining the winner of the SEC West.

We sat down with Cam Roberson of Death Valley Voice Fansided’s home for the LSU Tigers, to talk about the Tide’s chances heading into this showdown.

LSU found new life after their win over Ole Miss, followed by a bye week. Now they have Alabama at home. What’s the mood of the fanbase?

Completely rejuvenated. After getting run out of Jordan-Hare a few weeks ago, people were preparing themselves for a 6-6 season or possibly even 0-8 in the SEC. LSU looked awful in their first two conference games against Mississippi State and Auburn, but those reactions were obviously overblown. LSU was not as bad as they had looked, but they also weren’t who they are now.

The thrilling win over Florida, no matter the state of their program, gave the team confidence that they could get the job done. You also saw the LSU offense transform into the true power running team they are now. That all built up to the Ole Miss game. I think the fans know beating Alabama is always a tall order, but if the Death Valley that showed up last week shows up again, it will be an atmosphere for the ages. Through the years, Alabama hasn’t had any trouble in Baton Rouge, but the fans are charged and they’ll give it all they’ve got Saturday night.

Alabama has beaten the Tigers three straight, including in Death Valley. Why has the Tide been successful in Baton Rouge where other teams have not?

Since Les Miles arrived, Alabama is 2-2 in Tiger Stadium. Given the Tide’s prior history in Baton Rouge, that’s pretty good. Since Saban’s arrival, the obvious key to the Tide’s success is the fact that they consistently bring great teams to Baton Rouge. I think it has less to do with any mystique factor or “immunity” to the environment and more to do with team quality.

Really, that’s the only way you can win in Baton Rouge. Les Miles has lost four games at night in Tiger Stadium and three of those teams were ranked in the top 3 (including two Alabama squads) in the country at the time, while the fourth (Mississippi State this year) later became the No. 1 team in the country. Alabama is the only club that’s brought a great team into Baton Rouge every year recently.

Alabama has been a much more dominant team at home than on the road. Other than crowd noise, how does LSU plan to disrupt the Crimson Tide offense?

A one-dimensional team is much easier to defeat than one that’s balanced. Alabama will bring the most balanced offense to Tiger Stadium that LSU has seen this year, so attempting to shut down one facet of their offense will be defensive coordinator John Chavis’ goal. Sims has been less comfortable on the road and there appear to have been communication issues in the past, so I think Chavis is going to key in on Amari Cooper and keep him from getting into space with just a corner covering him.

While I think Lane Kiffin’s done a great job this year, he probably cost the Tide the game against Ole Miss by not riding his power running game. I think LSU probably wants Kiffin to do the same and attempt to stay balanced, because I think the LSU secondary matched up well here. It’s going to be a tall order, but keeping Alabama off-schedule will be the biggest key.

Kendall Beckwith has made an impact on the Tigers defense. What else has the LSU defense done to improve over the last few weeks?

Kendell Beckwith has been the biggest part of that. Statistically, LSU is one of the better teams in the SEC at allowing plays of 10 yards or longer, but at the same time they have allowed the most plays of 40, 50, 60, and 70 plus yards. A lot of that comes back to linebacker play and getting Beckwith in the middle of the field has been a huge boon to the run defense. The youth across the board has just in general become more seasoned. True freshman safety Jamal Adams might end up being one of the greatest defensive backs to play for LSU, which is obviously high praise considering LSU’s recent NFL draftees. He’s come on, along with DT Davon Godchaux and others, to help make this more of what you expect from an LSU defense.

Alabama’s defense has been much improved as the season has worn on. What does LSU have to do to put points on the board and outscore the Tide?

Keep Alabama from bearing down on the run and making them at least honor the pass. This Tide secondary doesn’t seem to be quite up to the standard that Saban’s set there recently, so there’s a chance there for quarterback Anthony Jennings to make some plays. Jennings will have to become less reliant on the deep ball to receiver Travin Dural to make things happen, as I think there will be plays to be had underneath.

LSU’s bootleg game was the best it’s been this year against Ole Miss and Jennings seems to be making more consistent throws than in earlier games, even though his completion percentage hasn’t necessarily improved. Anthony Jennings will have to make things happen, so that Leonard Fournette, Terrance Magee, and Kenny Hilliard can have room to pound it inside and generate points A tough task, indeed.

Finally, what’s your prediction?

Last week, I thought Ole Miss was a great matchup for LSU and so I had the Tigers winning by 3, which they did. I’m less confident this week. Alabama has the ability to run inside, which LSU’s had trouble with, and Sims seems to be a much better quarterback than he’s been given credit for. I’m also not sure Anthony Jennings will be able to do enough with his arm to keep the chains moving, because the Alabama front seven is not going to allow LSU to wear them down like they did Ole Miss in the fourth quarter.

The crowd’s going to give LSU a boost, but I think the Tide make it out of Baton Rouge alive, 20-14.