Is the LSU defense really as bad as the statistics suggest? If it is, Alabama Football should deliver one of its most prolific offensive outings of the season.
Matt House’s unit has been shockingly porous this season. LSU doesn’t rank higher than 11th in the SEC in any major defensive metric, and allows 6.1 yards per play. This figure barely edges out Vanderbilt (6.2 YPP allowed) to keep LSU out of the SEC cellar.
The Tigers haven’t even brought down quarterbacks at a high rate, which one would expect given their talented front seven personnel. As a team, they have recorded just 14 sacks (13th in SEC), which is less than two per game.
Alabama Football has given up at least four sacks against every SEC opponent this season, so it will be interesting to see if the offensive line can help keep Jalen Milroe upright.
While the defensive metrics across the board show a unit that doesn’t provide much resistance against the run or the pass, LSU has done one thing well defensively. The Tigers have managed to force turnovers, tying for second in the league in interceptions and ranking fourth in total takeaways.
In SEC games against Arkansas and Missouri, LSU notched two interceptions and eventually won close, high-scoring games.
Bama can’t afford to give LSU extra possessions or momentum-shifting plays in this game.
Alabama Football vs LSU Personnel
With star defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo sidelined with an injury, LSU will need super-talented sophomore Maason Smith to step up. Smith has just 15 tackles on the season, but is a plus-athlete at 6’6” and over 300 pounds. Bama center Seth McLaughlin has had his share of struggles this year, particularly against massive defensive tackles like Smith.
The LSU defensive line will also feature veterans Jacobian Guillory, Sai’vion Jones, and Jordan Jefferson.
At linebacker, Harold Perkins Jr. is the headliner with 40 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, three sacks, and an interception. Bama has undoubtedly game planned for Perkins, a Swiss Army knife of a defender with sharp instincts and elite closing speed. While Jalen Milroe has not always shown great awareness this season, he will have to know where Perkins is coming from on every snap.
Veteran linebackers Omar Speights and Greg Penn III are also fixtures in the LSU defense, but true freshman Whit Weeks has been a surprise contributor with 38 tackles.
LSU’s depleted secondary has been pieced together this week using transfers and position changes. Even when it has been at full health, it has not been the “DBU” it once claimed to be. Safeties Major Burns (51 tackles, one interception) and Andre Sam (49 tackles, three picks) will have their work cut out for them.
LSU is down to its backup corners with Zy Alexander, Duce Chestnut, and Denver Harris all out. The Tigers could use safety Sage Ryan at cornerback, and may have to turn to true freshmen such as Ashton Stamps.
With this presumed weakness at corner, the LSU safeties will be put in conflict this week. Will they try to stay over the top, giving the corners help and trying to prevent big plays from Jermaine Burton and Isaiah Bond? If they do, Alabama Football will be able to run against a light box. Additionally, Jalen Milroe will have the opportunity to find open receivers over the middle on crossers and digs with the safeties occupied.
This is a pick-your-poison situation for the LSU defense. Bama and Milroe have been extremely proficient on the deep ball this season, and I think LSU would be foolish to leave its corners on islands and concede easy points.
At the same time, LSU’s best chance to win may be to bring the house. If Brian Kelly and his defensive staff decide that they don’t trust the unit to get traditional stops, they could throw the kitchen sink at Milroe and try to confuse him. I don’t think LSU has a very good chance to win this game without forcing a couple of turnovers, and they may do whatever it takes to achieve that.
Coming out of the bye week, Alabama Football will have to be prepared to handle whatever strategy LSU brings to Tuscaloosa.