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Alabama/LSU: No Time to Get Cute

Cedric Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Since 2007, the Alabama versus LSU games have mostly been instant classics and overall slugfests. It’s no secret, Alabama fans and LSU fans simply don’t like each other, it’s that simple. This game has long had SEC Championship implications and this year is no different.

The Tide do not yet control their own destiny until they get past this game. Sure, they have Mississippi State up next, but unless God himself is playing quarterback for the Bulldogs, they have a snowball’s chance in hell in pulling the upset — in Bryant-Denny Stadium at that.

Anyway, as for a real game, the Crimson Tide must ensure they are on their P’s and Q’s and cannot rest on their laurels. This starts with offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

Flashback to 2014 when the Tide’s season narrowly died in Death Valley after an atrocious game plan by the boy genius came crashing down all night long. It wasn’t until :50 seconds left in the 4th quarter where all thinking seemed to go out of the window, and the ball was placed in Blake Sims’ hands to make all the necessary plays to get into field goal position and for Adam Griffith to make a game-tying kick and force overtime.

Derick E. Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago, Blake Sims led a valiant comeback for the Tide in Baton Rouge, but came with many obstacles. The Tide is hoping for a better showing tonight. Photo: Derick E. Hingle – USA TODAY Sports

However, if we rewind it just a tad — or from the first snap basically — the atrocious manner in which the Tide went about facing the Tigers seemingly cost them this game — or it should have. Sims, who ended the game completing just 20 passes out of 45 was clearly off the entire game save for the last 50 seconds in the contest.

While TJ Yeldon was not 100 percent and ended up tweaking his knee, asking Sims to be Tom Brady was a bit of a stretch for someone the coaching staff was not completely sold on the entire year.

As for this game, the scenario is oddly similar as first-year starter Jalen Hurts is in a similar situation going down to Baton Rouge — at night — for the first time in as hostile of an environment as there is in college football. In order for the Tide to be victorious, they cannot allow Hurts to be more uncomfortable than he already is.

Former coach Les Miles once said that Death Valley is “The place where opponents’ dreams come to die” — it is imperative Kiffin utilizes the offense’s strengths and limits any possibilities for Hurts to become overwhelmed with trying to place the game solely on his shoulders — like he did with Sims.

On paper, this game screams a victory for Alabama. However, the intangible factors and the environment in which this game is played nixes any idea that a runaway victory for the Tide is imminent. Therefore, for Saban and Kiffin, sticking to the basics may be the best strategy of all.

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