The Alabama-LSU matchup is said to be one of the most physical games each season, and coach Nick Saban said that’s probably true.
He thinks it’s because over the years, LSU and Alabama both have built a similar kind of team.
“There’s not a lot of tricking in what they do and we haven’t had a lot of tricking around here in what we do,” Saban said.
Just because LSU has running back Leonard Fournette, who’s done well this season and is ranked No. 1 in rushing for the SEC, Alabama can’t solely focus on the run and has to remember that LSU also has a quarterback in Brandon Harris. The Tigers can just as easily put the ball in the air as it can run the ball. The Alabama defense will have to be aware of that and read each play correctly, practicing eye control.
“Everybody’s got to be disciplined in keying what they’re supposed to and not look at the wrong things,” Saban said. “If you start looking at the quarterback and watching him fake the ball, that’s when you get fooled and someone pops out of the group behind you.”
While Fournette has had more than his fair share of yardage, Harris has also completed 75 of 128 passes for 1,098 yards and nine touchdowns. Saban said it’s just as important to stop Harris and his play-action passes as it is to stop Fournette and the running game.
Following Fournette in the SEC rush rankings is Alabama’s own Derrick Henry, who totals 1,044 yards on 180 carries for 14 touchdowns.
This season, Alabama has been looking to re-establish its identity as a strong rushing team, but instead, it’s found a balance between its running game and its passing game.
“Obviously, in this game, we’re probably playing the best front seven, probably the best defensive team we’ve played all year personnel wise as well as how they’re coached and how they play,” Saban said.
Finding success with that balance in its offense is going to be key against LSU’s defense. That balance includes alleviating pressure on the edge.
Saban said the issues with the edge haven’t been schematic issues – it’s been issues of execution and consistency with protection.
“I do think that it really comes down to guys being able to execute and on the offensive line you have to play together,” he said.
Coming off a bye week, Saban said there are no injuries to report and everybody on the team practiced Wednesday, including offensive lineman Dominick Jackson and defensive back Ronnie Harrison who both injured an ankle during the Tennessee game. He’s hopeful that they’ll continue to progress and be able to play Saturday, but nothing is ever for sure. It’s day to day.
“I don’t have a crystal ball to say the guy is going to be able to play the whole game and not have an issue or problem,” Saban said. “When it comes right down to it, a lot of it is about the player and whether he feels like he can go out there and do his job and compete.”
Previously injured or not, every player of the Crimson Tide needs to come out Saturday ready to give it his all and execute the way the team has been practicing – no mental errors.
“The thing that’s most important right now when you get down the stretch, can you stay focused on playing your best football?” Saban said.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports