Alabama Football: Defenses level the playing field

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football is set to host the rival LSU Tigers in a game that could very well decide the SEC West.

Both teams are structured very differently, which makes for an interesting matchup. The LSU offense ranks no. 1 in the country in scoring and total yardage, and is miles beyond an inconsistent, boom-or-bust Alabama offense that has struggled mightily at times.

So, how can the Crimson Tide keep pace?

They will certainly be helped by a shocking discrepancy between the two defenses. Alabama Football is historically a defense-first program, and the 2023 unit has not disappointed. The Bama defense has been one of the best in the country, ranking first in the SEC in yards per play allowed and second in scoring defense.

Meanwhile, the LSU defense hasn’t lived up to expectation. Much like Alabama, LSU has prided itself on playing elite defense over the past couple decades. After fielding a respectable unit last season and returning game-changing players like Harold Perkins Jr., Mekhi Wingo, and Maason Smith, the LSU defense has inexplicably fallen off a cliff.

The unit has been shredded by virtually every good offense it has played against. In four games against Florida State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Missouri, it surrendered 538.3 yards per game on 7.4 yards per play.

Granted, all of these offenses are more efficient than Alabama’s with the exception of Arkansas. Still, relative performance metrics are not complimentary of the LSU defense, which allowed each of these four offenses to significantly outgain their yards-per-play season averages.

Florida State: 7.0 YPP, 8th nationally (7.5 YPP vs LSU)

Arkansas: 4.7 YPP, 125th nationally (6.3 YPP vs LSU)

Ole Miss: 6.8 YPP, 14th nationally (8.0 YPP vs LSU)

Missouri: 6.7 YPP, 18th nationally (7.8 YPP vs LSU) 

Essentially, against every P5 opponent except Auburn and Mississippi State, the LSU defense has allowed the opposing offense to have one of its best games of the season.

For the first time in recent memory, there is a significant gap between the LSU offense and the Alabama offense in favor of the Tigers. However, a side-by-side comparison of the two defenses may be even more lopsided.

Next. Bama can't afford another slow start. dark

Can a defensive unit that has become the strength of the Alabama Football team get the better of LSU’s offense? And can Bama’s relative weakness capitalize on what appears to be a favorable matchup? We’ll find out Saturday night.