Friday, November 6, 2009

Guest Blog: Sugar Lumps on Bama-LSU

Carter Slade had the pig flu this week, so I asked Sugar Lumps to give us this week's Bama preview.   Being the Saban-inspired trooper that he is, Carter fought through and posted a game preview anyway.  Well, this game can't have too many previews.  So, I present to you: Sugar Lumps on "The Showdown in T-town."

Battle of the coaches…or the bad quarterbacks?

As regular Alabama previewer Carter Slade has been reportedly stricken with the pig flu, I am honored to be writing the preview for the hugely important Bama-LSU game. This is the 73rd meeting of these two teams, with Alabama leading the series 44-23-5; yet LSU is 6-4 the last 10 years, has won 7 of the last 9 meetings, and since 1982 has only lost 3 times in Alabama (while playing Bama, and has won the last 4 in Tuscaloosa). The billing the last couple years has been the “battle of the coaches”, yet this year the whole “coaches battle” seems to be out of the picture, with some seeing this as the “battle of the bad quarterbacks”.

Jefferson has been playing better, more consistent says Miles, since LSU’s dismal performance against Florida, but then again, the opponents’ defense was a lackluster Auburn one and Tulane, enough said. On the good side of the tracks, McElroy has been on a slippery slope as of late. Alabama only has 2 offensive TDs in the last 3 games and McElroy is 0-10 passing in the red zone during these last 3 wins. However, if you ask McElroy himself, or Saban, they would say his passing game against Tennessee was spot on.  Saban wants to go deep on Saturday, even if it means a turnover or incomplete pass; he wants to create opportunities with the passing game, and score on big plays outside of the red zone.

The teams match up pretty well on offense. Both have great talent at the skill positions on offense, while Bama has the edge on the O-Line front. LSU has lost their starting left guard and center; the replacement center is former Saints and Falcons quarterback Bobby Hebert’s son…T-Bob Hebert, I’m not kidding, his name is T-Bob. T-Bob says he knows he has a size disadvantage against Mount Cody (6-3 282 v 6-5 365), and will have to win with technique. LSU is 101st in the nation at giving up sacks, and Bama is 14th in sacks. This is going to be key, getting to Jefferson. He is no doubt a great athlete, but he is inexperienced. To piggyback, no pun intended, on one of Slade’s previous posts, quarterbacks have suffered greatly against Bama’s defense versus the rest of their opponents. Look for Bama to pressure Jefferson early and often, and to try to limit the big plays.

LSU has the 4th rated defense in the SEC and is dependent on its strong secondary. They will be looking to Patrick Peterson to stop Julio Jones, if and when McElroy can get the ball to him. Peterson will no doubt remember the OT 27-21 Bama win last year when Jones caught a pass with Peterson all over him at about the 3 yard line. This will be a great match up of sophomores; Peterson can match the muscle that Jones has, but Jones has a slight edge in the height department. Yet, Peterson has been struggling with the flu this week…with Saban wanting to go deep, look for Jones to break out of his second season slump.

Peterson won’t be the only one looking to avenge last year’s poor performance, Ingram only had 6 yards rushing on 5 carries last year. Given LSU is not as strong on rush defense, look for Ingram and Richardson to have big games to hopefully open up the passing game. Also, Roy Upchurch says he is back to 100% for first time this year, he says he’s ready, whatever his role. Upchurch is a workhorse, and great blocker on top of being a talented runner. I say he’ll be used as a prominent part of a trio with Ingram and Richardson.

Mrs. Sugarlumps and I were at the 2007 Bama-LSU game where I thought Bryant-Denny was going to come down when Arenas ran one back, only to see LSU score twice in the remaining 2:49 to win. Speaking of which, Arenas is creeping up on some NCAA records.

This game will no doubt have huge BCS implications. No one has to work to “get up” for this game. It will come down to which quarterback can perform better, and special teams (Edge: Bama (Arenas)). If Bama can confuse Jefferson as they have with other more talented QBs, and limit the big plays, we will go on for the win. I look for Bama’s passing game to rediscover itself, cover the spread (Bama +9) and win, 27-14. Roll Tide!

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