Alabama needs to beat LSU without beating them up
Alabama faces a unique task Saturday and it’s not only trying to stop Leonard Fournett and LSU. The Crimson Tide needs to do it delicately.
The game in Tuscasloosa is an elimination game for Alabama. If LSU knocks off the Tide, it will be virtually impossible for them to make it to Atlanta for the SEC title game. For Bama to make it, it needs two things to happen – beat LSU and then have the Tigers knock off Ole Miss on Nov. 21. Either that or hope the Rebels fall to Arkansas Saturday or at Mississippi State in the regular-season finale.
Hence the weird dynamic for Alabama. The Crimson Tide needs to beat LSU, but not beat them up. They need them down the road.
Imagine if the Alabama defense flies around and lays the leather to Fournett about 20 or 25 times. The LSU running back might not be at full strength when he goes to Oxford two weeks later. The Ole Miss Landshark defense is getting healthy with the recent return of defensive lineman Robert Nkiemdiche and linebacker C.J. Johnson from injury. By the time LSU comes calling at Vaught-Heminghway, safety Tony Connor could be back from a torn meniscus he suffered against, of all teams, Alabama.
That proves a point. Alabama’s running attack is brutal and after the game it was learned Connor would miss games for the Rebels. In his absence, Ole Miss lost to Florida and Memphis.
Does that mean the Tigers won’t get a steady diet of the Derrick Henry power running game? Probably not. Alabama is in a must-win situation to get to the SEC Championship Game ,so it has to use its potent rushing attack.
But if the LSU defense get banged up trying to stop Henry and Kenyan Drake and chase receiver Calvin Ridley all over the Bryant-Denny turf, will they be at full strength to face Ole Miss?
Don’t forget, the Rebels’ Chad Kelly is leading the SEC in passing. If he faces a depleted LSU secondary, he could pick it apart.
Alabama needs the Tigers to be at or near 100 percent when they go to Ole Miss because an LSU team that does not have a full tank might not be enough to beat the Rebels.
So, the Crimson Tide must beat LSU, but they need to stop short of beating the Tigers up physically.
That’s an interesting problem for Nick Saban to contemplate this week.