Archive for the ‘Weekly Previews’ Category


This is what LSU needs to be doing with Jordan Jefferson to win the game —– POWER SPREAD —-  with the QB as a dual threat  —-  and this is the main reason I feel Alabama wins a defensive struggle.  Nick Saban’s Defense will not have trouble with the multiple Cluster of schemes that LSU runs.  And Les Miles will again do just enough to cost his team a crucial win.


OFFENSE – Alabama lost the big 3 at QB, RB and WR, but McCarron is a bigger recruit and talent than was McElroy and just lacks experience, Richardson is a MUCH bigger recruit than Ingram and an absolute monster and while those no way to replace Julio Jones, Haze and Hanks are fine in the multiple offenses skillfully handled by OC, Jim McElwain.  Plus, according to Phil Steele, Alabama has its “most exp’d OL in 3Y.”  Counting Richardson as a returning starter (since he’s a Heisman Candidate), Alabama has 8 starters returning on offense.  

LSU also has 8 starters returning on offense, but has had a switch at QB and OC this year as star QB recruit, Jordan Jefferson, found himself in a world of trouble in the offseason and former starter Jarrett Lee has seen most of the playing time.  The transition has been smooth as LSU returned 9 out of 10 Offensive Lineman, 2 starters at WR and their usual plethora of RB talent.  The big change is really at OC, where Gary Crowton never saw eye to eye with Miles and was supposed to be replaced with Spread master, Steve Kragthorpe, but he had to step down due to Parkinson’s.  Out went any real chance at consistent Power Spread with talented Jefferson as Miles is a former successful OC himself, but prefers to cling tightly to the old stand by schemes, only giving over slightly to the PS, because of Jefferson’s great running ability at QB.  With Pro Sets and some spread passing with Lee , this is easy pickings for Saban – the master at defending the passing spread. And Pro Sets are easy for any decent DC.

DEFENSE – Simple – 2 great Defenses and defensive minds. Saban is recognized as a defensive genius and Kirby Smart (DC) is his protege. John Chavis had as much to do with Tennessee’s great success in the last two decades as their head coach,  Phillip Fulmer.  His small, but speedy aggressive defenses were often overshadowed by the likes of Petyon Manning and other offensive stars.  He came to a great situation at LSU as they also use small, but speedy Linebackers and with Miles great recruiting and LSU’s traditions can actually get Chavis more talent than he even had to work with at Tennessee.  This year, according to Phil Steele, this is the most experienced LSU DL in years after several years of graduation and decline. Unfortunately, LSU lost possibly its greatest CB ever in Patrick Peterson (#1 DC ARIZ), but have 3 of 4 excellent starters back in the secondary.  With a total of 7 returning starters, LSU has had a top 3 defense all year long.

Unfortunately for LSU, Alabama has 10 starters back and has been the #1 defense all year!  With only one graduated starter on defense replaced by top notch JUCO DL, Jesse Williams, this defense is formidable and possibly better than the 2009 version. As good as LSU is on D this year, without Peterson, you have to give the nod to Alabama.

SPECIAL TEAMS – Always a staple of the detail oriented Saban teams – this year could be special as all the STeams performers are returning!  Again, LSU is hurt more by graduation as they lose a lot from their #2 ranked STeams of 2010. Miles surprisingly has had many good special teams during his head coaching career – not as much due to his attention to detail as with Saban, but more due to his all out aggressive nature and risk/reward mentality that permeates his teams.

COACHING – ALABAMA HANDS DOWN. Not necessarily because Saban is so great (overrated?) or Miles is so bad (underrated?), but because of 2 other factors

1 – Continuity – Two great DCs, but while I wouldnt call McElwain of Alabama a great OC, he’s solid, works well with Saban, and has been there a while. The OC at LSU is their OL coach under Miles and Crowton, Greg Studrawa. He also served as OL coach under Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen at Bowling Green, before being promoted to OC when Meyer left.  As OC he continued the success of  the Power Spread under Mullen and with Omar Jacobs as his QB.  I cant imagine what a PS guy like Studrawa must have felt being stuck in between Crowton’s passing spreads and Mile’s more conventional 2 back offenses. Its hard to know what Miles is thinking as Kragthorpe is a Spread guy as is Studrawa, but the problems with Jefferson changed whatever ideas any of these men might have had for LSU this past Spring.  A lot of potential with Studrawa, but a mess compared to Alabama’s solid situation and still not enough POWER SPREAD!

2 – DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS – While Miles is a great recruiter (possibly better than Saban, imo!), he doesnt adhere to the details that Saban does – almost no one does. He also doesnt have the organization that Saban promotes – again, almost no one does.   AND Miles will tend to take crazy risks during big games.  All these factors have lead to big losses in the past for Miles, where Saban probably wins the same type of game. Even the great LSU team of 2007 almost blew it with much disorganization, lack of detail  and crazy risk taking throughout the whole season!

BOTTOM LINE – Alabama has  lost a great leader at QB and a great WR (they replaced their Heisman RB with the same quality). LSU lost a great CB, dang good LB and had all kinds of problems this summer with their multi-talented QB.  Plus, more than anything, the OC situation is still shaky.  The losses are pretty even.

But the overall experience is on Alabama’s side.  Especially on Defense (slight edge) and Special Teams (Big Edge). Even if you give LSU the edge on offense – its only slight. Add in the coaching edge and  Home Field advantage for the Tide, plus Mile’s penchant for blowing big games and this is just too many obstacles for LSU and Alabama should win a great defensive battle

ONE CHANCE FOR LSU? – I will finish how I started:

POWER SPREAD WITH JEFFERSON (like OSU needed to do with this guy below!)



So this is the biggie?!  #1 LSU going to Tuscaloosa to take on #1 Alabama.  Here’s my brief assessment of the game.


THE OFFENSES:  From an offensive standpoint neither team does much that is very interesting.  Alabama and Jim McElwain will tend to be a little more out-of-the-box than LSU.  McElwain has utilized some Pistol sets in the past, most notably during their title chase in 2009.   Despite some of the talk about how loaded Bama is with talent, I don’t see an extraordinary amount of it on the offensive side of the ball.

LSU, with Jarrett Lee under center is a traditional 2-back offense that looks to run first with power and set up an efficient passing game from it.  Of course, this comes as news to no one.  It’s a traditional scheme but they’re very good in its execution and it’s operated with highly talented players.

Both offenses are pretty vanilla, but there is talent at the skill positions: RB for Bama and RB/WR for LSU.


THE DEFENSES:  This is where each team excels.  Saban has long been hailed a genius on this of the ball.  Bama defense is experienced, returning 7 starters from last year’s unit and the numbers have them as the #1 defense in the land.

LSU is not far behind in those rankings checking in at #4.  LSU is also returning 7 starters on defense and has managed to defeat 2 of the best offenses in the game this season, Oregon and West Virginia.  In both games they were outgained, and against WVU outright gashed for over 500 yards, but they won the turnvovers and won the games.

I can’t imagine either of these defenses will find it very difficult to shut down the opposing offense.

SPECIAL TEAMS:  I feel like each team is complete opposites here, but I could very well be wrong.  Saban is a detail nut, and his special teams are solid.  Miles seems like a predictable old-school guy (just look at the offense) but yet will call for fake anythings at any given moment and get away with it whether they’re well-executed or not.

VERDICT:  LSU wins.  For me the difference comes down to the same position for each team, quarterback.  Jarrett Lee is likely the least talented player on either team, yet he plays at the most critical position and simply gets it done.  He brings a lot of experience with him and he’s very smart with the ball, which is of utmost importance in games like this.

AJ McCarron is talented, but much less experienced and has struggled against the best defense he saw this year, Penn State and fared worse against Florida’s Muschamp defense.  John Chavis’ defense is great at excellent at creating confusion, it will look like they’re blitzing everyone, but they’ll drop 7 into coverage.  This will present a big challenge for first-year starter McCarron.

It will be close, but with Lee taking the snaps, and LSU’s defense creating confusion for McCarron, I see LSU winning.

LSU: 17

Alabama: 9