Monday, January 9, 2012
Allstate BCS Championship keys: LSU
By Edward Aschoff
Here are three keys for No. 1 LSU (13-0, 8-0) in Monday night's Allstate BCS National Championship Game against No. 2 Alabama (11-1, 7-1):
Jordan Jefferson's play: You never quite know which Jefferson will show up in games. Will it be the one who stumbled through the first half of the SEC championship game against Georgia? Or, as he did against Arkansas, will it be the one who threw for 208 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 48 yards and another score? Jefferson has that Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde quality. Alabama's players lauded Jefferson's running ability and referred to him as the Tigers' X-factor on offense. While he can hurt teams with his feet, he can also scare his team with his passing decisions. He isn't a top-notch thrower, so keeping him comfortable will be key and it will also be important to make him effective in the option game.
Put pressure on AJ McCarron: You know Alabama's offense will go through running back Trent Richardson, but Alabama is going to look to stretch the field with its young quarterback. McCarron was flustered for most of the night when these two teams met back in November. He'll already be in a pretty hostile environment inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, so making him uncomfortable in the pocket will really benefit LSU's defense. McCarron has the skill to make some plays against the Tigers' defense, but this is still his first year as Alabama's starter and this is the biggest game he's ever been in. Mistakes will occur if he loses the mental game.
Continue to pound the ball on the ground: LSU made its mark on offense by wearing down defenses with its running game. What made the Tigers so successful in this area was their ability to throw out multiple backs at a time. Spencer Ware entered the year as the starter, but LSU got solid production out of three other running backs and now have a new leading rusher in Michael Ford and have found the back of the future in Kenny Hilliard. LSU was one of just two FBS schools to rush for more than 100 yards on Alabama's top-ranked rushing defense this season after churning out 148 yards on the ground in November.