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ESPN with insight on Alabama-LSU

Stephen M. Smith- Touchdown Alabama Magazine

It is no coincidence that the self-proclaimed “World wide leader in sports” follows where the action is. ESPN is already flooding Tuscaloosa, Ala, for Saturday’s match-up between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers of Louisiana State University.

Members of credentialed media sites received an opportunity to gain more insight on the contest, courtesy of interviewing ESPN College GameDay analyst Rece Davis and esteemed quarterback guru George Whitfield, Jr.

Both guys said the game will be close and Davis in particular, said the Alabama-LSU rivalry has drawn even more importance since Nick Saban’s arrival to Tuscaloosa in 2007 as head coach.

Stephen's Report: Interview with ESPN's Rece Davis (11/6/15)

“Since Nick Saban’s arrival to Alabama, there is no rivalry game that has been more significant,” Davis said. “This one has been the most significant rivalry of the sport for nearly a decade and we are pretty much seeing the same thing again. Roads to championships go through these guys. This is a game for people who like to do the tough stuff.”

The College Football Playoff committee released its first installment of rankings for this season earlier this week. Alabama and LSU are both in the top four, sitting at No. 4 and No. 2 respectively. Davis said Saturday’s game will be an elimination one for Alabama at home.

“The winner of this game whether it’s Alabama or LSU is the leader in the College Football Playoff picture,” Davis said.

“LSU in certain circumstances could afford a loss and still be in the picture if it wins out, but this is an elimination game for Alabama this weekend.”

Davis, a alum of the University of Alabama (1988), even amused media personnel with his thoughts on LSU’s sophomore running back Leonard Fournette.

He has 15 rushing touchdowns.

“I think Fournette is as dynamic and explosive of a running back that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Davis said. “I get physically ill and agitated when anybody puts a running back in the same breath as a college running back with Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson, but Leonard is right there. He is close.”

Whitfield, a Kansas native, founded Whitfield Athletix in 2004. It is a camp based in San Diego, Calif., that is devoted to molding young quarterbacks for the next stage in their careers.

Whitfield has trained some highly-profiled names, including Cam Newton, Ben Roethisberger, Andrew Luck, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston. He has been working with Alabama freshman quarterback Blake Barnett, but Whitfield said he is looking forward to this game.

Stephen's Report: QB guru George Whitfield on UA's Jake Coker

“I’ve seen steady improvement from both Brandon Harris (LSU) and Jacob Coker (Alabama) in different ways,” Whitfield said. “Jacob Coker has settled and stabilized himself in the position. People forget that he’s an upperclassman but still pretty green because it’s his first year starting. It is live game experience that gives you the active intelligence that you need.”

George Whitfield on LSU quarterback Brandon Harris

As for Harris, Whitfield said “when he was younger, he would try to throw the ball through everything.” He said Harris has added “a lot of touch to his passes” and has gained the dynamic of playing with and complementing a “big time running back.”

Saturday’s game will feature two potent offensive coordinators, Cam Cameron and Lane Kiffin. Whitfield said the match-up between both guys should be fun, but also said both will be tested.

“Both coordinators are very dynamic and have experience,” Whitfield said. “Cam Cameron was with the San Diego Chargers for 10 years, with the No. 1 offensive in the league for five of them. He had a dominant running back in LaDainian Tomlinson and taught Phillip Rivers how to play around him. He also was able to kind of mentor Joe Flacco at Baltimore.”

Davis and Whitfield did not proceed to give the press an exact score prediction; however, Davis said the output for both teams should be around the low to mid 20s. Chances of rain for Saturday have reached 100 percent, according to the Weather Channel. This contest should be a fun one.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama MagazineYou can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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