Blog Entry

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Posted on: October 30, 2011 5:55 pm
 
Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Counting down to LSU-Alabama with a daily dose of analysis and news.



DAYS REMAINING TO KICKOFF: 6
or the number of red zone scores allowed by Alabama this season, one of the many, many statistics in which the Tide defense leads the nation ... and in which LSU trails just a bit behind, tied for 12th with 15. The bad news for Alabama, such as it is? Five of those six scores -- out of nine opponents' red zone attempts total, also the lowest total in the nation -- have been touchdowns. Meaning Alabama's rate of allowing red zone touchdowns (55.6 percent) is essentially identical to the Tigers' (56.3, 9 of 16).

Does any of that matter? Not necessarily--it's a tiny sample size and red zone percentage is notoriously fluky stat anyway. But it also could be an indication that if LSU can break through to the Tide red zone, they're not doomed to settle for field goals no matter how strong the Tide D might be.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: We know we're going to see plenty of smashmouth running, aggressive calls from Les Miles, and huge hits from the nation's two best defenses. But what might we see that we wouldn't think we'd see?

In other words: if we're going to "expect the unexpected," what would we expect? And while that's a tough question to answer (it wouldn't be completely "unexpected" if we saw it coming, right?), here's a few guesses at potential events during Saturday's showdown that might defy conventional wisdom:

AJ McCarron airing it out. For a given definition of "air it out," of course; this is still Trent Richardson's offense first, second, and probably third. But Jim McElwain and Nick Saban have never been averse to letting their quarterbacks put the ball in the air when the situation calls for it. McCarron's already thrown 30 or more times twice this season, vs. Penn State and Vanderbilt. Likewise, though the common memory of Greg McElroy's role in the Tide's 2009 national title is as a low-use "game manager," he, too, surpassed the 30-pass mark four times, including against -- you guessed it -- LSU. With the Tigers ever-so-slightly softer against the pass than the run (10th nationally vs. 3rd), it won't be a huge surprise if McElwain turns to McCarron to handle a sizable chunk of the offense.

LSU connecting on the deep ball. We know the Tigers are going to try and go deep; when you have Rueben Randle and a quarterback in Jarrett Lee whose deep touch is his greatest strength, it's a no-brainer. The question is whether they'll have any success, and given that only Texas has allowed fewer than the Tide's 13 passes given up longer than 20 yards, it won't come easy. But the Tigers themselves lead the SEC in passes of 40 yards or more and rank second in those of 30 or more. There's some history of success for LSU vs. the Tide, too--just last year Randle caught balls of 76 yards (for a TD) and 47 yards, and the Tigers finished averaging 10.4 yards an attempt. Strong as the Tide secondary is, don't be shocked if the Tigers get over the top once or twice.

An Alabama trick play. It's Miles, of course, who's famous for diving into the bag of tricks. But over the past few seasons Saban has proven he's not afraid to call for some trickeration, either, especially in big games. Remember the fake punt that opened up the 2009 BCS national championship against the Longhorns? Then there was the Arkansas game earlier this season, in which the Tide took the lead by motioning out of a field goal formation into an offensive set that scored a touchdown. Given that Saban knows exactly what's at stake Saturday, we could see something similar.

VIDEO BREAK: Gary Danielson will, of course, be calling the game for CBS this Saturday (8 p.m. ET, don't forget). Here he previews the game with Tim Brando:



THE LATEST: With both teams taking Saturday off, the biggest news on the game didn't come out of either Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa--it arrived from Vegas, where the Tide opened as a consensus 4.5-point favorite and were shortly bet down to a current consensus of 4 points.

If you buy the conventional wisdom that home-field advantage is automatically worth a field goal, this could be seen as Vegas stating their belief that the Tide is the better team ... though by all of a single point. Even the Vegas experts, it seems, have to split hairs when choosing between the two sides.
Comments

Since: Jun 12, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 5:58 pm
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

The same Penn State team won by a field goal? At least they won. What about LSU playing West Virginia? Yeah the same West Virginia that lost by 26 points to the unranked Syracuse. Also, that has to be the stupidest logic ever. There has been many great teams almost lost to some bad team. The 2009 Alabama National Championship team beat Tennessee by 2 points. Then Alabama went to the NC game and destroyed Texas. Or the 2007 LSU National Championship team that had 2 losses, including one to unranked Arkansas at LSU, and went on to beat Ohio State by two touchdowns. You can have all the stats you want, but when the game starts the only thing that matters is who plays better. Regardless of what either team has done, either team could win it. My point is that it is stupid to judge a team solely upon how they did against other teams. What is much more important is watching a team play and seeing how they play, and really analyzing their play. Roll Tide! Also, my comment score went up when I added 'Roll Tide!'



Since: Aug 18, 2010
Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:20 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

I'm confused by your statement "yet to be challenged".  LSU has played and beaten 4 top 25 opponents thus far.  And done so rather convincingly.  That means nothing on the field saturday, but the Tigers have been adequately tested.  This is why the stats for both defenses (which slightly favor Bama) do not tell the tale.  Bama has feasted on Vandy and other lesser teams while LSU's defense has played Oregon, WV, etc.


I did not say that LSU has not played decent competition, just that the teams we have played have not challenged LSU.  WVU put up a lot of yards, but that game was never in doubt.  Same for Oregon.  Both are good teams, but LSU handled both.  Neither team has had a game that came down to the end by any means.  I suspect that this game will, and it will be a first for both.  Let's see how they handle real pressure. 



Since: Apr 12, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:18 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

I've spent plenty years trying to take off the purple and gold colored glasses and look at each game as objectively as possible.  Keeping that in mind, I don't see how this game can be that close.  Crazy things can happen, and LSU may fumble the opening kickoff and stay in a funk all afternoon, but LSU seems to better at almost every position.  Their defense is extremely fast and very hard-hitting.  Bama can't keep up with the Tiger's depth.



Since: Apr 12, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:14 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

I'm confused by your statement "yet to be challenged".  LSU has played and beaten 4 top 25 opponents thus far.  And done so rather convincingly.  That means nothing on the field saturday, but the Tigers have been adequately tested.  This is why the stats for both defenses (which slightly favor Bama) do not tell the tale.  Bama has feasted on Vandy and other lesser teams while LSU's defense has played Oregon, WV, etc.



Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:08 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

A&M and Mizzou may have losing conference records in the Big 12 so how does that prove anything if they lose in the SEC?  If the SEC is far and away the best conference then why do all the computers think the Big 12 is? You say Alabama played a tough schedule because they beat Penn ST.  Would that be the penn st that won 10-7 vs an unranked Illinois team this past weekend? That Penn St? Instead of deflecting this and making it about the Big 12 why won't you guys just tell me how Alabama has played tougher competition and proved themselves better than LSU has. That's what I am asking you to do.  That's what I said in the very beginning. LSU is better, they have played better competition. They will win by double digits. 



Since: Aug 18, 2010
Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:00 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

I have no interest in talking any trash about this game.  Both seem to be very good teams that have yet to be challenged.  All the SEC defending in the world will not change the fact that this is not a good year for the conference.  Outside of LSU and Bama, the conference seems pretty average to me.  LSU has won two BCS NC's in the past, but this seems to be the best LSU team that I can remember.  It may just be that Bama is a bit better, but we will find that out on Saturday night.  None of this pre-game trash talk will mean anything come Saturday night.  I think both teams relish the opportunity that will be before them.  This is why these young players go to these programs, to be in games like this.  Geaux Tigers!



Since: Apr 8, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:43 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

Terrible schedule? Alabama plays in SEC (hands-down best conference. 5 different teams have won BCS titles and they've won 5 in a row). They also went on the road and stomped a team that is in position to win the Big 10. The difference between LSU and Alabama is seemingly neglible, however, the difference between the Big 12 and SEC is vast and you will see when A&M and Mizzou have losing conference records for the next 3 years. If there is a conference that's been exposed over the years it would be the Big 12, Oklahoma had lost 5 consecutive BCS games until they "dismantled" an 8-3 UConn team last year. Also despite consistently sending two teams to BCS games each year, the SEC has still managed to win 7 of the last 8 cotton bowls.



Since: Sep 25, 2009
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:09 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

The last 2 National Champions were from the SEC and both had first year quarterbacks.  'Nuff said I reckon.



Since: Oct 24, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 9:17 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

There sure are a lot of useless statistics being thrown around;  There are only a couple that really matter.
BCS National Championships
SEC % 1.000  - obviously the best (btw Big 12 % .286)
BCS Bowl games won
SEC % .714 - 2nd best behind Mountain West .750 (btw Big 12 % .388)



Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 9:15 am
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 30: Expecting unexpected

what you seem to miss is that I never said anything about Oklahoma until a tide fanned mentioned them. I simply stated that i felt Alabama was over-rated. I went on to state that I thought LSU was the best team in the country and would win the title.  But spew the Oklahoma hate all you want I get that.  As for draft pics OU had 3 of the top 4 in the 2008 draft, 2 offensive and 1 defensive something no other school has ever done. So don't boast about draft pics. If you look at the 2012 mocks the SEC only has 3 offensive skill players in the first 3 rounds, sounds like an overall lack of quality offensive players to me.   OU has a bad loss that can not be denied but rather than attacking something that is not in denial why won't any of you actually provide some real defense to Alabama's terrible schedule.  I still contend that LSU goes in and wins by double digits this weekend. If I am wrong then I will post my eating of the crow....


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