Alabama football: 5 week-too-early thoughts about LSU
When the Schedule Fairy delivers the yearly list of who plays who and when, it is always interesting to see which teams have off weeks before they face Alabama — thus giving an extra week to prepare for what the Crimson Tide is about to unleash on them.
True to form, said Schedule Fairy allowed the LSU Tigers to conveniently have this coming week off before their showdown with Alabama. But unlike in some years, the Crimson Tide will join them.
That’s great news, of course. Every minute that ticks by with Tua Tagovailoa not having to test his surgically-repaired right ankle is a minute the Crimson Tide have in their favor. Tagovailoa has an extra week to rest and rehabilitate his newly-tightroped ankle before the Tigers invade Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9.
As we pointed out over the weekend, Alabama learned that Mac Jones is a perfectly capable backup for Tagovailoa when it comes to the Arkansas Razorbacks of the world. But there isn’t anyone with a collection of working brain cells (outside Jones’ immediate family …) who would say No. 10 is better than No. 13 when it comes to intercollegiate American tackle football.
So we give that one away before the list itself: Mac is OK, but Tua is better for LSU. Now, for the list proper of 5 way-too-early thoughts about LSU …
1. Falling from No. 1 will be a major point of discussion
Sort of like how Clemson fell from the top spot of the media and coaches polls earlier this year despite winning, Alabama somehow dropped from the No. 1 spot to No. 2 despite whipping Arkansas 48-7. LSU, which survived then-No. 9 Auburn 23-20, moved up from 2 to 1.
Although everyone knows the polls really don’t much matter, especially before the first College Football Playoff rankings come out Nov. 5, but in reality where LSU and Alabama are in relation to each other matters exactly squat. The winner Nov. 9 will be No. 1 by a country mile and in the driver’s seat.
That said, you better believe there will be some bulletin-board material generated out of the whole “dropping from No. 1” debate. Hopefully this piece gets in the mix somewhere saying none of it matters a single solitary bit right now.
2. How good is Joe Burrow, really?
The short answer: Really pretty good, we think. With 2,805 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, Burrow has been lighting up defenses like no Tigers QB in history. And with a 32-of-42 performance for 321 yards against Auburn, Burrow clearly knows he can perform well on the biggest stages.
That said, Burrow has yet to see a stage quite like Tuscaloosa and a rivalry game quite like Alabama-LSU this season. All eyes — and we mean ALL eyes — will be on the talented senior.
Alabama held Burrow to 184 yards passing and intercepted a pass in last year’s shutout.
Can he step up his game one more notch? The answer could decide whether LSU keeps marching toward a national title and Burrow makes a trip to New York City for Mr. Stiff-Arm.
3. Can Alabama run the ball effectively against LSU?
Consider: Auburn freshman D.J. Williams rumbled for 130 yards on 10 carries in only his 3rd appearance of the season. That was an anomaly, though, as LSU is ranked 12th in the nation in rushing yards allowed — giving up only 97.9 yards per game. LSU has only allowed 5 rushing TDs in 8 games, tied for 9th in the nation.
Alabama racked up 179 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns against Arkansas last weekend, but that was Arkansas. That’s only 11 yards above the Tide’s per-game average of 168 yards per game — which ranks 64th. Alabama has 16 rushing TDs, though, which means the Tide is getting into the red zone with the passing game and punching it in on the ground when just a few yards out.
4. Is this Ed Orgeron’s moment?
Kind of like Joe Burrow, Nov. 9 is the biggest moment in Ed Orgeron’s coaching career. He has the LSU Tigers at No. 1. He has his beloved program rolling. Nick Saban, who made everyone forget the Gerry DiNardo-style years that LSU was mediocre and won LSU a national title, is in the sights.
Yaw yaw yaw football.
Crazy EdO will be in full effect the next 2 weeks. While Saban likely will be putting in the standard 90-hour weeks, it will be fascinating to see how Orgeron handles the huge national stage this game and this moment provide. Last year, ranked No. 3 with the top-ranked Tide coming to Baton Rouge, Orgeron and LSU laid a huge egg in losing 29-0.
5. Bryant help us if this comes down to a field goal
As the reigning and defending goalpost-hittingest team in college football history, Alabama has doinked more leather off yellow-painted iron than anyone can possibly stand. Will Reichard will have an extra week to rest a hip flexor injury he re-aggravated against Arkansas … but he can doink exceptionally well for being just a freshman. Joseph Bulovas has such a rich history of doinks that he lost his job heading into 2019.
If this comes down to a a game-winning kick for Alabama, reports of heart palpitations could spike all over the South — make or miss.