Despite Record, 2013 LSU Brings Bite to Tuscaloosa
This year’s LSU team is a little more behind the eight ball than a lot of LSU fans wanted to be heading into the Alabama game. The Tigers were upset by Ole Miss 27-24 despite a valiant comeback from the boys in Baton Rouge. LSU’s 7-2 record includes the loss to Ole Miss, a loss to Georgia in a 44-41 shootout in Athens and a strong second half to lead LSU over Furman 48-16.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger is in his second year as starting quarterback and has brought some much-needed production the Tigers have lacked since Matt Flynn. The former Georgia quarterback has thrown for 2,492 yards and 19 touchdowns. Over the past two games however, Mettenberger has thrown five interceptions, three against Ole Miss and two against Furman. The Ole Miss interceptions proved costly as two of the three picks were in the end zone and one of the two interceptions thrown against Furman was ran back for a touchdown.
Like Alabama, it seems LSU brings a strong running game year after year. LSU is led by running back Jeremy Hill who has 128 carries for 922 yards and 12 touchdowns. Statistically, junior Terrence Magee is second on the team with 50 carries for 376 and five touchdowns, but Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue are also rotated quite frequently. None of these four running backs average less than 4.5 yards per carry.
The surprise has been the tandem in wide receivers Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Mettenberger has relied on Beckham who has been their homerun threat, hauling in 48 passes for 1,009 yards and eight touchdowns. Landry follows closely behind with 58 completions for 882 yards and eight touchdowns. Beckham is coming off a career performance against Furman with 204 yards and two touchdowns and is carrying big momentum heading into the Alabama game.
Looking for a weak point in this year’s LSU team, one could look into the defense and see some uncharacteristic numbers. LSU has given up 350 total yards on defense and almost 22 points a game. Despite the large numbers, sophomore linebacker and Alabama-native Kwon Alexander says they will be ready for the Tide.
“We need to come out playing hard, great intensity, playing physical, just do everything we can do,” Alexander said. “We are going to play LSU football.”
The games in Tuscaloosa have been nail-biters since Saban arrived in 2007. LSU is 2-1 against Alabama in Tuscaloosa gaining victories in 2007 and 2011. Average margin of victory is a little over five points in those three contests, including the 9-6 overtime thriller in 2011.
The Tigers will be coming off a bye week like Alabama and will have the 2012 game fresh in their minds. LSU players feel that they let that game get away and will have all the motivation to avenge that loss. Mathematically, LSU is still in the divisional race, but will need a little help. LSU will have to essentially win out and hope Alabama loses to both Mississippi State and Auburn. A loss to Alabama will eliminate LSU from any chance of competing for the SEC championship.