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LSU’s D.J. Chark and Derrius Guice offer Alabama a New Challenge

© Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State’s running back, Cam Akers, and Texas A&M’s wide receiver, Christian Kirk, have been the best players Alabama has faced at their respective position thus far this year. With LSU on the slate for next weekend, however, one of these could change. Tigers’ running back, Derrius Guice, has been one of the best in the conference, and their veteran receiver, D.J. Chark, has also earned his way among the elites.

Guice has accumulated 711 yards and six touchdowns on 124 attempts, good enough for second in the SEC. Chark has been a do-it-all type of playmaker for the Tigers as he has compiled 535 yards on just 22 catches (a ridiculous 24.3 yards per reception) good for third in the league. In addition, he also has a pair of punt return scores and score on the ground.

Alabama’s terrific defense has seen its fair share of offensive weapons this year, but not a dynamic duo like this one. Loading the box against LSU has typically been the go-to option defensively in the past, but with an improved Danny Etling and an elite receiver to worry about, too, it may no longer be so simple.

Newly hired offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, has LSU looking a little bit different on that side of the ball this year, and some of that has to do with the ability to get their playmakers the football. LSU has seen some great offensive talent come through Baton Rouge over the years only to have their success fall less than expected of them. This year, however, Canada has taken this team’s best players and has found ways to get the ball in their hands.

Chark, for instance, is a receiver that can beat you in a number of ways, and they’ve exploited that. He is a scoring threat at punt returner, leads the teams in receptions, and has even carried the ball nine times for 60 yards and a score. Though they like throwing the deep ball his way, they’ve shown a knack for getting the ball to him behind the line in hopes he’ll shed a tackle and make a big play with his speed.

At home against Auburn, with the defense keyed off on Guice in the backfield, Etling took advantage of man-to-man coverage on Chark to the outside. This helped ignite their sluggish offense and ultimately became what won them the football game. Though Alabama gets the Bayou Bengals at home, the Tide best not overlook them as they may just be surging at the right time.

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