SEC Media Days: Joe Burrow, LSU took note of Alabama's blowout loss to Clemson. Will it help?
HOOVER, Ala. — There were certainly plenty of invested onlookers when Alabama suddenly — and surprisingly — looked very human in a 44-16 thrashing by Clemson in the National Championship Game last season.
Superman lost his cape. Goliath fell to David. Surely, what happened to Alabama in January would give any team on the Tide’s schedule some confidence. Especially a certain one in Baton Rouge, La.
“No question, but we’ve got to do it,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Monday at SEC Media Days. “I do believe we have a very good football team and it’s going to be a challenge, but I believe we’ll be up to that challenge.”
It would be understandable if SEC West teams and other contenders have an inferiority complex when it comes to playing Alabama. Under Nick Saban, Alabama has won 5 national titles and, at times, his team has looked as if it were more NFL than SEC.
“I hope not,” Orgeron said when asked if his players may have a disadvantage mentally when it came to Alabama. “I hope they take it one game at a time.”
As per Orgeron’s request LSU quarterback Joe Burrow said he’s not focusing on just one team — like Alabama.
“If you go into a season thinking about we’re going to beat this team and we’re going to work all year to beat this team, you can’t really do that in the SEC,” the senior said Monday. “You have Florida. You have Mississippi State. You have Texas on our schedule. You have Utah State, which finished in the Top 25. I think you kind of handcuff yourself if you solely focus on beating that (one) team.
“If we just focus on beating every single team in front of us and play as well as we can and execute the offense and the defense to the best of our ability, we’re good enough to win every game and I think that’s what we need to do,” Burrow.
If that sounds a little like coachspeak, it’s because it is. Burrow was more honest as the questions kept coming.
“I watched every Alabama loss from the last 2 years,” Burrow said. “I know that’s kind of counterintuitive from what I said about focusing on any one team, but I did watch a lot of film on a lot of different teams. The one thing that I saw (in Alabama’s losses) is that people were able to get their playmakers in space and create matchup problems for them.
“With what we have in right now and what we plan on doing on the offensive side of the ball, I think that’s what we’re going to be really good at.”
Burrow had another coachspeak line about getting LSU’s playmakers the ball in space. Then he was a little more insightful. LSU’s offense will be predicated on getting the ball out of his hands quickly. That could help negate what is always a formidable Alabama defensive front.
When asked if the talent gap between LSU and Alabama was close or perhaps equal, Burrow said, “Yeah, they obviously recruit really well, but so do a lot of teams in the country. Clemson had a good scheme and kind of exploited matchups.”
That means Burrow did take note of the Clemson beating even though, oddly enough, he said he couldn’t remember where he watched the game live last season. He also noticed from that game and other Alabama losses that he can’t just have an average game.
“You obviously have to make some big time throws and play really well to beat them because that’s what they’re really good at it, taking away your strengths as a quarterback,” Burrow said when asked what is the key to beating Alabama. “The teams that were able to beat them were able to keep doing what they were doing all year and not allow Alabama to take that away.”
So Burrow has a method to beat Bama, but it didn’t come solely from the loss to Clemson. He’s learned plenty from film study, just not much from the mystery location where he watched it.
“I was thinking about where I watched it and I don’t really remember where I watched it,” he said with a smile.
Perhaps that just a poor memory — or perhaps that’s a sign that Burrow doesn’t think Alabama is quite as unbeatable as it has seemed in recent memory. If the latter is the case, that’s good news for LSU’s mindset as they try to win the SEC West for the first time since 2011 — the last time the Tigers beat Alabama.
“You have confidence when you have good coaches and good players,” Orgeron said. “We have good coaches and good players at LSU.”
Clemson or not, LSU believes they can beat Alabama — at least publicly.