Tigers Collapse In Tuscaloosa
Despite two first-half fumbles, the first of which prevented a LSU touchdown and the second of which led to an Alabama field goal, the Tigers were even with the Crimson Tide early in the third quarter.
Then, as if a switch had been flipped on, AJ McCarron and T.J. Yeldon took over the second half while LSU’s offense stalled. The result was Alabama’s third straight victory over the Bayou Bengals, two of which came by 21 points. This is LSU’s first three-game losing streak against the Tide since the mid-1990s.
The outcome of this game and the way LSU lost brings up several questions surrounding the Tigers’ program.
What happened to fullback J.C. Copeland?
The big senior from Georgia lost the ball on the way into the end zone on LSU’s first possession and never returned to the field. Understandably, the coaching staff would have been upset at Copeland for the lost opportunity, but was that enough reason to keep one of their best blockers out of the remainder of the game? Most coaches would scold a player for losing the ball, but then put him right back on the field to get over the fumble and reinstall confidence.
Obviously, this was not the case with Copeland, who does not carry the ball all that much anyway. There is no evidence to suggest Copeland sustained an injury. Did something happen on the sideline between the aggressive fullback and the coaching staff that has not been reported?
Why did LSU’s offense suddenly stop moving the ball in the second half?
The Tigers scored a touchdown on their last possession of the first half and opened the third quarter with a field goal drive that spanned six plays and 50 yards. LSU led in nearly every offensive statistical category up to that point. Did Alabama’s increase of pressure really affect the offense that much? The Crimson Tide played with their safeties off the line of scrimmage throughout most of the first half, then brought them closer to the line to put more pressure Zach Mettenberger. Evidently, this was enough to derail LSU’s offense and prevent any further points by the Tigers. Les Miles detractors love to talk about his inability to make in-game adjustments against Nick Saban’s teams. This performance is sure to add fuel to that fire.
How did Alabama’s running game take over the second half?
LSU kept running backs Yeldon and Kenyan Drake in check during the first half. The Tigers were not so fortunate in the latter part of the game as the tandem began to run over, around and through the LSU defense. Some of the issues that plagued LSU in their first two losses reared their ugly head in this defeat as well. Shoddy tackling and defenders out of place or taking poor angles led to several big Alabama runs that deflated the entire Tigers’ team. The two running backs combined for 35 carries for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, LSU’s two leading rushers, Jeremy Hill and Terence Magee, combined for just 22 carries and 73 yards with one touchdown.
With LSU officially out of the running for the division and conference championship, perhaps the biggest question is: Where does LSU go from here?