Forty-four days have passed and we’ve finally made it to game day, rematch style. Most everything that can be said has already been said (times two), but I’ll add a few thoughts anyway:
** Yes, LSU has better special teams all around, but the punting aspect will be somewhat negated if Bama fields a strong running game (more on that later).
** Yes, I do think the long layoff will have an effect on the game. I’m not sure what it will be, but I think it’ll be there. It could be that LSU loses their turnover mojo or that one or both offenses are totally out of sync. It could also be that the defenses and the tackling are somewhat slack. I guess we’ll find out this answer later tonight.
** Yes, the game is being played in LSU’s back yard, but I don’t see this as a serious advantage for them. Bama will be well represented in the Superdome tonight and it’ll be loud no matter which side is doing well.
** There’s been a lot of talk about LSU and the option over the last few days. That’s to be expected given Alabama’s performance against Georgia Southern and against LSU in the first game, but I don’t expect the option to be a game changer tonight. Bama’s ready for it and LSU knows it. I expect LSU to run the option, but I’d be very surprised if it’s more than their normal ratio.
** The things that REALLY scare me are Kenny Hilliard, defending the deep ball and Jordan Jefferson’s general running / scrambling ability. Hilliard has played well late this season and I wouldn’t be surprised is Les Miles calls his number tonight. Bama defended the deep ball well in round one, almost to the point where LSU gave up on it. The Tigers, especially featuring Rueben Randle, have struck a lot of gold on deep balls this season, so I’m sure they will try that again, too. Jefferson’s can run the ball. He’s not Tim Tebow or Cam Newton, but he’s big, strong and likes to run and that can always give a defense trouble, especially as plays break down.
** I don’t think we can play any better defensively than we did in the first game, so I’m not expecting to hold the Tigers to nine points or less. Sure Nick Saban has had 40+ days to prepare and I expect the defense to play well, but I don’t think we keep them out of the end zone this time around.
** So that means the Tide will need to score a few points as well. The key to that will be whether or not Bama can run the ball. End of story. Sure AJ McCarron will have a big part of the game plan, but at some point, we’ll need to turn things over to Trent Richardson – whether it’s inside the 30 or late in the game, etc. – and we’ll need to be able to run the ball. As Cecil Hurt has pointed out, 10 more yards on a couple of drives in the first game totally changes the outcome of that game.
** One of the problems with struggles in the kicking game is that it almost removes the possibility of a fake field goal. When you struggle kicking field goals, the defense expects you to do something tricky. So wipe out that possibility for Bama unless Cade Foster and Jeremy Shelley are stellar in the first half. Hopefully, we won’t need them.
Roll Tide and enjoy the game!