“Sixteen Switches Part 3”

Saturday Spotlight

(2) LSU Tigers at (3) Alabama Crimson Tide

LSU: Their last game against the Auburn Tigers was a test. Auburn has the best defensive line not just in the SEC, but in the nation. This was finally going to be a challenge for Joe Burrow who’s been on a tear this year. It wasn’t a cake walk for them, but they survived their toughest test of the year. This is the second-best team in the game right now behind the Ohio State Buckeyes. Their passing attack is just effortless with how they carve up defenses left and right. Joe Burrow has become one of the best quarterbacks with tremendous improvement. Last season, he was just trying to figure things out. This year, he’s jumped from competent to elite. He’s completing 78 percent of his passes, averages close to 11 yards per pass attempt (10.8) and he’s thrown 30 touchdown passes to a low four interceptions. Their resume is also impressive with three wins against top-ten opponents. They defeated the Texas Longhorns back in week two when the Longhorns were the ninth-ranked team in the country, they handed the Florida Gators their first loss a few weeks back in Baton Rouge then just two weeks ago, they beat Auburn. In order to be considered a playoff team, you need big wins against some of the elite competition and they have that. One part of this team that doesn’t get discussed much is the group of wide receivers they have. Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr give Joe a nice trio of weapons. Altogether, this trio has combined for 1,901 yards receiving and 25 of Burrow’s 30 touchdowns. Justin is the number one option that gets targeted frequently on third down situations. Chase is only 6’1, but he’s been more of their deep threat along with playing in the slot. Marshall is their possession guy standing tall at 6’4. What concerns me about their defense is their lack of a pass rush on the edge with their defensive ends. I noticed this against Auburn because the only time they could really get to Bo Nix was when they showed blitz which can hurt them. The bye week is officially in the books. This afternoon, they’ll look to keep winning when they face Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide.

Alabama: Another year which they’re undefeated. It’s almost an automatic prediction for them to be at this point of the season with a zero in the loss column. When Tua Tagovailoa went down with his ankle injury, I wasn’t even concerned because knowing how Nick Saban is as a head coach, the team would go back to playing “Saban Ball” which is a strong dose of the running game, the offensive line controlling the line of scrimmage, an underneath passing game then, making sure the quarterback just controls the game by not turning the football over. They didn’t miss a beat in their last game against the Arkansas Razorbacks. No Tua, no problem. The sophomore Mac Jones came in and led their offense to another outburst. Here’s my thing: When a new player comes in playing a key position, he automatically has the advantage over any defense trying to stop him because there’s not much tape on him. They learn what he does and how to stop him as the game goes on. Mac threw three touchdown passes in that blowout win over Arkansas in week eight. The one thing about Alabama this year is they’ve every game on their schedule by at least 20 points. Whenever I think of Alabama football, both sides of the football being strong always comes to mind. That hasn’t necessarily been the case this year. Their offense has been lights out which has been obvious since Tua became their starting quarterback. In all my years of watching them, this has been one of the weaker defenses they’ve had. As soon as I heard the news that Dylan Moses was gone for the year with a torn ACL, this was a call for others to step it up. Let me explain the importance of a middle linebacker. They are usually the “quarterback of the defense”. They call the plays and make sure everyone is where they need to be. His presence has been missed because they don’t have that guy to make those tackles in the open field. This will be the biggest challenge they’ve faced all year when a rival comes to town today.

LSU Player to Watch: K’Lavon Chassion– He’s an absolute nightmare if he isn’t attended to. He’s your typical outside linebacker that can cover, make tackles in the open field or get after the quarterback. He can also line up as a defensive end to get that pass rush. If Tua does indeed play, expect to see Chassion and that entire defensive front getting after him early on.

Alabama Player to Watch: Raekwon Davis– He is a defensive monster. He can play defensive tackle along with defensive end. He’s long, athletic, strong and uses his pure strength to physically dominate who’s attempting to block him. Raekwon also has great speed to generate a pass rush. He just bursts into the backfield untouched. I admire the motor he plays with. He gives 100 percent on each play. His release when the ball is snapped is what sets him apart.

Final Analysis: Well we’ve seen this on the schedule and here we go! The sixteenth edition of the annual “Saban Bowl”. This is their first matchup as number one and two since 2011, the last time the LSU Tigers defeated Alabama. Since then, Alabama has won eight straight games against their conference rivals. Alabama must get pressure on Burrow early on. In many of LSU’s games, I’ve seen Joe stand tall in that pocket with all day to throw. If Alabama doesn’t get that pass rush on him, consider the day to be a long one for them. LSU needs to attack the middle of the field with those crossing routes. Alabama has had such a tough year protecting the middle of the field. Both their names have been revealed in the first set of playoff rankings. The winner of this one will be in the next set on Tuesday with the loser being on the outside looking in. Also, the team who wins will have a nice path to win the division and get to Atlanta for the conference title game in Atlanta.

Prediction: LSU 26 Alabama 23

One thought on ““Sixteen Switches Part 3”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *