|Photo via Wikipedia|
No matter where you stand on the rematch argument, it is an honor for college football and defensive enthusiasts, such as me, to see these two battle again for all the marbles. Over the past three days, I've re-watched the game. Some of the plays I watched up to 15 times.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting videos, notes and game photos from plays that really stood out to me.
But it is without reasonable doubt Alabama failing to execute on offense when they needed to the most was the main reason they lost to LSU.
Usually when referring to two elite football teams, college football fans and pundits always say the team that wins "the battle in the trenches" will win the game. For this game, this was not the case. Alabama's offensive and defensive lines played better than LSU's. The tape didn't lie.
When I evaluate offense, I usually look for "my guys are better than yours" type of plays. These are plays easily identifiable by defenses but are successful because the offense out-executes their opponents. The Crimson Tide outplayed the Tigers on these kind of plays for a majority of the game.
The problem occurred with the Alabama coaching staff. They tried to get to cute when they got into LSU territory. This next stat is the ultimate reason why Alabama lost.
Alabama ran 15 offensive plays beginning inside the LSU 30-yard line. Two of those plays were field goal attempts, one of which was missed. But on the other 13 plays, Alabama averaged -1.5 yards. Alabama had only three plays of positive yardage, all going for only one yard. Alabama never reached LSU's 15-yard line.
In watching the film, some of the credit has to be given to the LSU defense. That stat above is the ultimate "bend but don't break" mentality. The Tigers made the plays when they needed to the most.
But offensive coordinator Jim McElwain and head coach Nick Saban made some atrocious decisions. Despite the pass being open, they should have never called a trick play where a receiver throwing to a tight end ultimately decides the outcome of the game. Trent Richardson just finished shredding the LSU defense on a 24-yard run, breaking tackles from LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery and safety Eric Reid.
This decision, as I shared with WVUA radio in Tuscaloosa earlier this week, cost Richardson the Heisman trophy. He just had a Heisman moment type of run taken away by the hubris of Nick Saban trying to outthink "The Mad Hatter."
But it wasn't just that play. Alabama had questionable calls twice inside the 30-yard line versus LSU in the first half. They tried an outside run with Eddie Lacy that cost them major yardage. On another drive, they tried a AJ McCarron to Richardson to Marquis Maze reverse. Maze tripped on his feet and cost the Crimson Tide six yards on first down.
What's funny is McElwain called a masterful game before getting inside the 30-yard line. He created matchups in the passing game and trusted his offensive line to create running lanes against a LSU front seven who hadn't faced an above average power rushing attack all year. He succeeded in both areas, but went bananas during certain moments in the game.
For Alabama to have any chance, this time "on the road," to beat LSU, they must become more efficient deep in Tiger territory. They need to stick with their identity and continue to run the football. None of their receivers can get separation from this legendary LSU secondary.
I still have LSU beating Alabama 27-21 on Jan. 9th because I think LSU won't ever lose in the Superdome. But if the Crimson Tide can get back to what they do best, that result can easily be flipped.
Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.
Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.