In all probability we shouldn’t be shocked. Ed Orgeron promised, in the end, that issues would trade, and the LSU trainer made certain to inform everybody a few years again, after but every other loss to Alabama:
And now, right here the Tigers are – however who anticipated, smartly, this? With SEC supremacy and most probably a lot more at stake, Alabama-LSU is in spite of everything the entire long ago, a conflict of unbeatens, possibly extra necessary than ever earlier than – and on the similar time, totally other from the rest we’ve ever observed from the competitors. With LSU’s radical offensive transformation, an epic showdown has morphed from doable shutouts to a possible shootout.
Flash again to 2011, 8 years in the past this weekend, the remaining time this sport used to be this large. A No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup performed into extra time – wholly with out touchdowns. LSU gained Nine-6 in a show off of stifling defenses and grinding offenses that, smartly, floor to a halt.
Come Saturday, it’s No. 1 vs. No. 1, when you use each the Amway Coaches (Alabama) and AP polls (LSU). It’s No. 2 LSU vs. No. three Alabama in step with the Faculty Soccer Playoff’s variety committee. It’s going to no longer be Nine-6 – until 5 mins in they’ve ignored a few further issues.
Given the combo of tough offenses and rather suspect defenses (by way of their requirements, no less than), the Red Tide and Tigers would possibly industry touchdowns all afternoon.
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If Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s ankle is OK – and that lingering query may well be a very powerful component to all the display – he and Joe Burrow, his LSU counterpart, would possibly publish massive numbers and dueling Heisman moments.
Alabama is scoring 48.6 issues consistent with sport, No. 2 nationally, 506.6 yards (No. eight) and seven.72 yards consistent with play (No. 2). However for the Red Tide, it’s Yr 2 with Tagovailoa within the wide-open machine, and so we’ve grown used to it.
What LSU is doing takes some being used to: Unfold formations and shotgun snaps into empty backfields, Burrow throwing landing passes to a fleet of gifted receivers at charges remarkable in class historical past.
“That is their first time to in reality open it up,” Alabama trainer Nick Saban stated, “and it’s paid super dividends. It unquestionably options the talent avid gamers they have got in an excessively sure method, and the quarterback. … Those guys make a ton of explosive performs as a result of what they’ve developed to.”
The Tigers moderate 46.eight issues (No. four nationally), 535.Nine yards (No. four) and seven.56 yards consistent with play (once more, No. four). And the catalyst is Burrow, a second-year starter who leads maximum lists of Heisman applicants. Burrow ranks No. 2 nationally in passing yards (2,805, a 350.6-yard moderate) and TDs (30). He surpassed a number of of LSU’s single-season information in October. He’s finishing virtually 79% of his passes.
Perhaps it’s coincidental – or possibly no longer – however each groups have defensive problems. Alabama ranks 16th in general protection, permitting 307.five yards (regardless that handiest 15.three issues) consistent with sport; LSU ranks 23rd, permitting 315 (and 20 issues). The ones numbers aren’t horrible, however they’re a a ways cry from what we’re used to from ’Bama and LSU – they usually appear not likely to make stronger a lot Saturday.
All of it units up for one thing that would possibly resemble a Giant 12 shootout – assume Baker Mayfield vs. Patrick Mahomes again in 2016, Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech and all the ones issues and yards (and hisses and chuckles, too) – greater than a standard SEC showdown.
However let’s forestall for a second. How did we get right here?
After that Nine-6 mystery in 2011, the groups rematched within the BCS nationwide championship sport, a 21-Zero Alabama win that used to be the primary of 8 consecutive towards LSU, and counting. (The rating used to be deceiving; there used to be one landing scored, and it got here overdue within the fourth quarter – after 5 box targets.)
The Red Tide took off from there, dominating the SEC and profitable 3 extra nationwide championships. And Alabama developed alongside the way in which. Saban noticed the offensive wave coming. And even supposing he first of all resisted it – in 2012, he famously decried the transfer to hurry-up offenses, asking rhetorically, “Is that this what we wish soccer to be?” and seeking to push thru a rule trade to sluggish the tempo – he sooner or later adjusted his recruiting and his philosophy.
It morphed totally into one thing actually monstrous remaining season, with Tagovailoa throwing the soccer with abandon, surroundings nearly each and every faculty passing file and turning the Tide’s offense into a nearly unstoppable gadget. This season, it’s been extra of the similar: Tagovailoa and an excessively gifted fleet of receivers scoring touchdowns in bulk.
And a yr later, however much more , LSU is doing the similar factor. This season’s transformation is in contrast to the rest now we have observed from the Tigers’ offense.
“Completely other offensive scheme than what they’ve performed up to now,” Saban stated.
It took a training trade from Les Miles to Ed Orgeron, after which it took till Orgeron’s 3rd season earlier than his promise to modify the offense got here to fruition. The items have fallen into position during the last yr and a part.
Burrow arrived from Ohio State as a graduate switch earlier than the 2018 season. He supplied a gentle presence at quarterback and the Tigers confirmed flashes overdue of offensive doable. Nevertheless it wasn’t till Orgeron employed Joe Brady as passing sport coordinator this offseason from the NFL’s New Orleans Saints; Brady teamed with veteran offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger to fully – and in spite of everything – open up the throttle.
“It’s the imaginative and prescient I all the time had once we took over,” Orgeron stated previous this season, “and we in spite of everything were given there.”
And now they’re in spite of everything again right here, set for a shootout, with a valid shot at dethroning Alabama.