Saturday, November 8, 2008
Taking a look at the Alabama-LSU matchup
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
BATON ROUGE, La. -- A few keys and numbers to crunch on as we count down to kickoff here at Tiger Stadium:
- From the LSU perspective, it's critical that the Tigers find a way to get ahead in this game and make Alabama play from behind. The Crimson Tide have trailed for only 1 minute and 15 seconds all season. So in other words, they haven't been in a position where quarterback John Parker Wilson has had to beat anybody throwing the football. That's not to say that he can't, but it's the part of Alabama's game that's the least tested this season.
- From the Alabama perspective, the preferred blueprint is the same one the Crimson Tide have followed all season: Get ahead early, ride the running game and get freshman receiver Julio Jones in favorable one-on-one matchups on the perimeter. Defensively, Alabama wants to take the ball out of tailback Charles Scott's hands and not let him get started and instead force redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Lee to throw the football. Lee has thrown five interceptions that have been returned for touchdowns this season.
- Alabama has outscored its opponents this season 108-6 in the first quarter and 198-26 in the first half. "We're going to control games and control the clock. That's what we do, and other teams know it," Alabama tailback Glen Coffee said.
- The second half had not been as good to the Crimson Tide for a stretch this season. Against Georgia, Kentucky and Ole Miss, Alabama was outscored 61-13 after halftime. But the Tide have seemed to straighten out their second-half blahs in the last two games. They've outscored Arkansas State and Tennessee 37-6 in the second half the last two weeks.
- Wilson might not get the pub that Tim Tebow and Matthew Stafford get as one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC, but he's been clutch on the road this season. In Alabama's four contests away from Bryant-Denny Stadium, Wilson is completing 69 percent of his passes for 647 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
- LSU's defense, which has been a glimmer of the unit that was the backbone of the Tigers' national championship team a year ago, has to find a way to force some more turnovers against Alabama. The Tigers have forced only eight turnovers, tied for third-worst in the country. The LSU defense forced 36 turnovers last season, which was third nationally.