Expected Thoughts of Coaches and Outcome Of Ala – LSU’s Big Game
By: Larry Burton
Getting into the minds of these coaches is easy and straight forward given the history we have to look at on each and in their games with each other. Les Miles is so conservative he makes Nick Saban look like a pass happy coach. Miles knows not only his best chance, but his only chance, is to win a defensive struggle, low scoring contest as he did in the 9-6 win in Tuscaloosa a few years ago..
That being said, he won’t mind running the ball, punting and playing a field position contest with Alabama. He feels he has a better FG kicker and that placekicking is Bama’s weak spot.
LSU spent the week working on stripping the ball on defense and ball security issues on offense. They’re going to have some turnovers to help their offense and scoring and they’re going to do everything to limit turnovers on offense themselves. They won a game against Ole Miss with four turnovers and they know that they simply can’t do that and hope for a win against Alabama.
Therefore, you won’t see the LSU quarterback trying to do what Alabama is not expecting, like trying to stretch the field with deep throws or throwing into tight coverage.
LSU will pound the ball at Alabama all night long and you may see only 6 pass attempts all night from LSU 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
If you want to see if this is BS or not, you only have to wait and see how Miles handles the first few third and long situations. If he does the conservative draw plays or off tackle, then you’ll know that this indeed is his game plan.
Kiffin knows that this is Miles game plan and knows that Miles worst case scenario is trying to win a track meet. While Kiffin would love to open up the passing game, two things worry him. Sims inexperience and problems throwing passes more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage and the respect he has for the LSU secondary. Also disturbing is that Sims’ seeming willingness to throw those kinds of passes right into the chests of defenders who have thankfully dropped most of them up to now.
LSU is going to cover the bubble screen, jam Cooper at the line and frustrate receivers with tight man coverage all night long. For Kiffin to get the passing game going, he’s going to have to get Sims to find the tight end and running backs out of the backfield who can’t be covered easily by the Tiger linebackers. That may cause LSU’s defensive guru John Chavis to switch to a zone defense which could open up seams for Cooper and White.
This coupled with a running game will cause an eventual one on one match up that Sims will exploit to Cooper. Kiffin and Saban figure they win the game with 31 points. That’s just one touchdown per quarter with a FG thrown in for good measure.
Kirby Smart and Saban feel that they can play a lot of man to man as they don’t respect the LSU quarterback’s ability to beat them and this will help support the running game. While Alabama’s defense is very similar to Ole Miss’, they may not do as well. Ole Miss held LSU to just 10 points but still lost 10-7. However, in that game LSU turned the ball over four times and Alabama hasn’t been that opportunistic on defense.
If LSU stops the turnovers, Alabama knows that will translate into more points. The defensive game plan is to hold LSU to one touchdown per half and hold for field goals when possible. They feel they must hold LSU to less than 24 points.
How it could get ugly for LSU: If the running game is absolutely going nowhere and they try and pass to win.
How it could get ugly for Alabama: Sims has a bad day (like Bo Wallace had) and turnovers ruin the day with interceptions. Also if Alabama has a case of the fumbles like they had in past games. Letting LSU have some cheap quick scores could get both the crowd and Tiger players into a frenzy that engulf the Tide.
Best guess prediction? Alabama 27 – LSU 17.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter