No lack of respect in the trenches

January, 7, 2012
1/07/12
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NEW ORLEANS -- The trenches were no place for the meek the last time Alabama and LSU tangled, and that’s where this game will be won on Monday night in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.

Alabama center William Vlachos said LSU’s depth up front in the defensive line was staggering, and that every time he looked up there were three or four fresh guys running into the game.

“They’re deep, but they’re also good and very well-coached,” Vlachos said. “They don’t make many mistakes.”

"I was like, 'Dang, he's short,' and he is short. But he's got the leverage all the time. I'm 6-6 and don't know how tall he is, 6-1 or 6-2, but he's under my pads pretty much every play. "

-- LSU's Michael Brokers on Alabama's William Vlachos
That respect is mutual.

LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers said Vlachos, who’s listed at 6-1 (which is probably a stretch), is one of the best he’s gone against. The 6-6 Brockers has Vlachos by a good five or six inches, which is not always ideal for an interior defensive lineman.

“I kind of took it as funny at first because he’s so short,” Brockers said. “I was like, ‘Dang, he’s short,’ and he is short. But he’s got the leverage all the time. I’m 6-6 and don’t know how tall he is, 6-1 or 6-2, but he’s under my pads pretty much every play.

“Sometimes he’s blocking me and I’m looking over him and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m getting blocked.’ That guy uses his strength and leverage to his advantage.”

Brockers said the only thing more difficult than going up against Alabama’s offensive line is trying to tackle Trent Richardson.

“After the (first) game, my neck was hurting, shoulders, everything,” Brockers said. “It’s like hitting a brick wall constantly. He gets the ball a lot, so you have to hit him a lot. You can’t know how solid he really is.

“We’ve got to get all 11 hats to the ball. You can’t take that dude down with one guy.”

Richardson rushed for 89 hard-earned yards on 23 carries in the first game against LSU and also caught five passes for 80 yards, but the Crimson Tide were stymied any time they moved inside the 30.

This time, Richardson said Alabama needs to “step on the throat."

Four different times back on Nov. 5, Alabama had a first-and-10 at the LSU 30 (or closer) only to be bogged down by a negative play on first down. Twice they lost yardage, once on a reverse to receiver Marquis Maze. They also had 5-yard penalty on a substitution infraction, and Maze’s pass out of the Wildcat formation was intercepted by LSU’s Eric Reid at the 1.

In overtime, the Crimson Tide had another 5-yard penalty on a substitution infraction with it second-and-1o at the 25.

“Everybody wants to talk about our kickers not making their field goals,” Richardson said. “Those were long field goals. We’re the ones who need to finish drives.”

Maze suggested that Alabama might have gotten too cute with a few of the trick plays and needs to do what it does best on offense and go right after the Tigers.

Of course, that’s easier said than done against an LSU defense that simply doesn’t give up many touchdowns, period, and specializes in knocking teams out of scoring position.

“Here’s the deal. If a couple of those things had worked, we would have been geniuses,” Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain said. “If we would have just run the ball inside, it would have been the other way. That’s the beauty of this sport. That’s the beauty of you guys (the media). You’ve got to have something to write about. You either make a great call or you don’t.

“Give them the credit on defense. They stopped us.”

Chris Low | email

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