LSU rises to the top with performance at Alabama

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Ja'Marr Chase
Ja’Marr Chase and the LSU Tigers flexed their muscles during a 46-41 win over Alabama (Photo: Terrill Weil).

Was Saturday’s 46-41 win over Alabama an outlier or a sea change in the series for LSU?

It may be one, both or neither, but there’s no denying that the perception of LSU football, especially their offensive philosophy, has changed dramatically.

In his postgame press conference, the coach at Alabama said something that seems almost surreal in nature.

“They have no weakness offensively,” said Nick Saban.

And?

“Everything they do is sound.”

In the winning locker room, comments by the head coach to his team wound up on social media.

“We are going to kick their *^#*& in recruiting,” said Ed Orgeron, among other things.

Shortly thereafter, LSU scored a commit from Alexandria Senior Hifg defensive lineman Jacobian Guillory, who, by the way, was being recruited by Alabama.

It is quite possible that Tigers and Crimson Tide will play again in the post season. We shall see. But here are some thoughts, after looking at the entire LSU-Alabama game, play by play.

LSU’s first possession set the tone for the entire game. The Tigers, who had 186 total yards against Alabama in 2018, marched 92 yards to score. That was pretty impressive, considering that LSU had scored 10 points total in the last three games in the series.

Tone set.

Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is getting a ton of credit for his four touchdown game (three running and another receiving), and he should. At least four times in the game, the junior caused Alabama defenders to tackle air. He also took advantage of a Bama defense that spent too much time trying to rip the ball out of his hands.

As many know, Joe Burrow likely won the Heisman Saturday. To throw for 393 yards and three touchdowns as well as hurt Alabama with key runs was just stellar. He shredded a defense filled with future NFL players. When the game was over, his teammates hoisted him on their shoulders.

Burrow checks all the boxes for a franchise QB, including off the chart intangibles. He threw the ball over the middle on the Alabama defense with impunity. You don’t see that very often.

Alabama never could figure out LSU’s bunch formations. Motion out of a three-man bunch caused enough confusion to get Terrace Marshall wide open for an easy TD toss from Burrow. Late in the game on LSU’s final TD drive, Justin Jefferson, the trail man in the bunch, leaked over the middle for a catch resulting in a third down conversion.

LSU also won one on one matchups outside.

Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase had the better of several battles with Alabama corner Trevon Diggs. Tight end Thaddeus Moss was both dependable and on a catch near the goal line pylon spectacular.

Defensively, LSU coordinator Dave Aranda blitzed a hobbled Tua Tagavailoa, forcing errant throws. The Alabama offensive line whiffed on some protections, allowing Tiger defenders a free run at the quarterback.

The Crimson Tide receivers are as good as advertised. Tagavailoa hit Devonta Smith on two long TD passes. The second, late in the game, was a head scratcher. Why was LSU not in a prevent defense?

If the two sides play again, Tiger fans might have some trepidation, understanding that Alabama won the rematch in January of 2012, after losing to LSU two months earlier.

However, there’s a pair of big differences from then and now.

One, LSU has Joe Burrow, the best quarterback in college football. Two, for the first time since those games eight years ago, the Tigers have the talent to play Alabama straight up.

A reporter asked Chase what the difference was for LSU?

“Coaching,” said Chase. And, he said it a second time for emphasis. “Coaching.”

My favorite quote of the night came from center Lloyd Cushenberry, the rock of the LSU offensive line.

“I got tired of hearing from all of the closet Alabama fans in Louisiana,” said Cushenberry. “We shut them up.”

At times Saturday, Bryant-Denny Stadium was hushed.

It was music to the ears of the Tigers and their fans.

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Ed Daniels

Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…

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