Sunday Slant Routes – Bama Game Thoughts

  • In my opinion, the game lived up to the hype.  The offenses failed to get into the end zone and maybe they played things a little too close to the vest, but that’s only because both defenses were outstanding.  Both of these defenses have made opposing offenses look terrible all year long.  I’m a little surprised that so many are discussing this today as if it is a big shock.  


  • All of the media types are talking about all of Alabama’s missed opportunities in this game.  Well, LSU had plenty of those too.   LSU had a first and goal at Alabama’s 2 yard line and failed to punch it in.  They also let Bama escape the shadow of their own goal line on two different occasions due to bad penalties.  


  • We heard a ton of opinions and analysis in the two weeks leading up to this game.  But even with the enormous amount of hype the game received, you saw very little mention of special teams and the role it would play in this game.  It turned out that special teams proved to be the difference.  


  • LSU made field goals when Alabama didn’t.   And in crunch time, Brad Wing delivered a monster 73 yard punt to flip field position and keep Alabama off the scoreboard.  Four of his punts were downed inside the 20.  And that’s nothing new for this LSU team.  Outstanding special teams are part of this team’s identity, and it’s the biggest reason why they dominate even when their numbers on offense don’t always blow you away.  


  • I’ve seen a whole lot of talk about Alabama’s missed field goals.  A lot of discussion on ESPN and elsewhere talks as if Bama should have made them all.  But credit LSU’s defense for toughening up once Alabama threatened.   They did their part and forced the Tide to try LONG field goals, which nobody seems to be talking about.  Their six attempts were from 44, 50, 49, 34, 46, and 52.   And one was not “missed”.  It was blocked, and credit should be given to LSU for making a big play. 


  • LSU’s three field goal attempts were 19, 30 and 25 yard attempts.


  • Once Bama ventured inside LSU’s 30 yard line, they gained a total of negative 17 yards.  Alabama ran just three plays inside LSU’s red zone all night.  That’s incredible.  


  • Jarrett Lee did not play a good game, but I’m honestly not that surprised.  Alabama’s defense is very good, and they pressured Lee.  He has never been good under pressure, and that’s still a weakness of his.  It was clear that Jordan Jefferson’s was better suited to move the football in this game.  His ability to run the football, and LSU’s ability to run with him in the game, forced Alabama’s defense to take their foot off the gas a bit.  The combination of Jefferson and Ford proved highly effective for LSU.   


  • In no way do I think this means that Jefferson is now the starter or that anything has changed at all regarding LSU’s quarterback situation.   This was simply a game where Jefferson gave the team the best chance to win.  I fully expect Lee to continue to start and be LSU’s primary quarterback and Jefferson will continue to play in spots.  


  • Eric Reid and Mo Claiborne were both outstanding on Saturday night.  It’s not just that both guys made interceptions, although Reid’s play may ultimately be the play of the year.   Both players tackled well, played tough, and made numerous plays.  The top two defensive backs in the game were on LSU’s side, and they wore #1 and #17.   Brandon Taylor was not far behind.  


  • When Eric Reid came flying up to tackle Eddie Lacy behind the line of scrimmage for a five yard loss, we saw two guys from the same high school (Dutchtown) involved on the play.  Landon Collins, a current senior at Dutchtown and the best prospect in Louisiana, was in the stands watching the game.  


  • Mike Ford played perhaps his best game as a Tiger.  Not only was he using his speed on the outside, but he was lowering his head and fighting for extra yardage.  


  • Linebacker Tahj Jones once again played significant minutes, and once again he played well.  I suspect his playing time will continue to increase down the stretch.  

Tracking The Stats

  • LSU held Alabama’s offense to 295 total yards, 162.6 yards below their season average.   LSU’s offense was held to 239 total yards, 133.1 yards below their season average.  


  • LSU rushed for 148 yards against Alabama, when the Tide were previously allowing just 45 per game.  Alabama rushed for 96 when LSU was allowing 77 per game.  That gives LSU a differential (rushing yards minus rushing yards allowed) of +52 for the game.  As my regular readers know, that’s a stat I like to track.   For the season now, LSU’s rushing differential is +105.66 which is 15th in the nation and second in the SEC behind Alabama.  


  • 16 of Trent Richardson’s 23 carries went for three yards or less. 


  • Both teams had times when they were pinned against their own goal line, and both teams had some short fields due to turnovers.  But when it was all said and done, the field position was dead even, with both teams averaging a starting field position of their own 27.  


  • LSU has won the field position battle in seven of nine games this year.   In the two they did not, they scored just 19 and six points.   In the seven games where they won the field position battle, they have scored at least 35 points.  


  • Spencer Ware (541) and Mike Ford (513) are now both over 500 rushing yards on the season.   LSU has not had two rushers go over 500 yards in the same season since 2004 when Ally Broussard (867) and Joseph Addai (680) accomplished the feat. 


  • More on Mike Ford:  In his career, Ford has 757 yards and a 5.60 yards/carry average.  What’s most interesting is that he has really excelled in every game (one exception) where he has received significant work.  Here is Ford’s output in every game in his career where he has received at least 10 carries:

10 carries 86 yards  2 TDs (8.6 YPC)
10 carries 85 yards  1 TD  (8.5 YPC)
14 carries 96 carries  2 TDs  (6.85 YPC)
13 carries 72 yards  2 TDs  (5.53 YPC)
13 carries 50 yards  (3.85 YPC)
12 carries 82 yards  2 TDs  (6.83 YPC)
12 carries 82 yards  (6.83 YPC)
11 carries 72 yards  (6.54 YPC)

TOTAL – 95 carries  625 yards  (6.58 YPC)

I’m not advocating that LSU needs to play Ford more.  The formula that Les Miles has been using has worked quite well so far.  But it certainly seems that getting Ford 10 or more carries in a game is beneficial.