With four national championships since 2009, the Alabama Crimson Tide are the gold standard in college football right now. The Tide have won easily in almost every game this season, even with a giant target on their back. It’s been a roller coaster season for the LSU Tigers, but interim head coach Ed Orgeron has them playing their best ball of the season.
What will it take for LSU to take down Alabama on Saturday night? Here are three keys for the Tigers.
1. Have to Limit Jalen Hurts’ mobility and get pressure on him
This Hurts guy is special. He isn’t just a “game manager” like we have seen from Alabama quarterbacks in the past. He can make plays with his legs, and his arm continues to go under the radar. The main key for LSU on Saturday night will be limiting his mobility.
Hurts has rushed for 225 yards over the last two games, and he was especially dangerous with his legs in the Tennessee game. Even though Alabama is running more spread looks now, the run game is still the focal part of its offense. How LSU plays the run on Saturday night will be a great predictor, especially when it comes to stopping the quarterback run.
Hurts has shown poise all season long, but I would argue that Tiger Stadium will be his toughest test yet. We have to remember that this guy is still just a true freshman. Guys like defensive end Arden Key (8 sacks this year) need to force Hurts into making quicker decisions with the football.
2. Continue to Spread the Football Around on Offense
One of the biggest takeaways from Orgeron’s first three games has been the passing game. Danny Etling has played well at quarterback, and the Tigers are getting the ball in the hands of their playmakers. Malachi Dupre was a highly-recruited wide receiver, and many felt he has been under-utilized. While he had just 136 receiving yards through the first five games, the junior has 152 yards in the last two games.
The problem with LSU’s offense last year against Alabama was that it was one-dimensional. Leonard Fournette couldn’t find much running room, and the lack of a passing game didn’t help matters. The Tigers offense needs to spread the ball around on Saturday night, and they can’t be predictable in the run game.
3. Get Leonard Fournette the Ball
He’s been and up-and-down year for Fournette as well, but this guy is still argubably the best player in college football. He’s also coming off a huge game against Ole Miss where he rushed for 284 yards on 16 carries. The Heisman Trophy is a long shot because of his three games missed, but that time off the field could help him this weekend.
Fournette looks rested and healthy, and he will be the most important player on the field against Alabama. The Tigers can’t be predictable with the run game, but they still have to get Fournette his touches.
Motivation is a powerful factor, and it’s one that I think will help LSU in this game. As crazy as this year has been, the Tigers still have a chance at winning the SEC West. They need to beat Alabama on Saturday for that to happen, though.
Orgeron got the players to buy in when he was the interim at USC, and it seems that he has the attention of the guys in the LSU locker room right now too. One thing that people overlook is the impact Dave Arranda has had in his first year as defensive coordinator. The Tigers rank 5th in the country in scoring defense at 15 points per game allowed, and there’s a lot of future NFL players on that unit.
Alabama is the best team in the country, but they won’t escape Death Valley undefeated on Saturday night.
Prediction: LSU 24, Alabama 23
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