After watching and enduring so many ‘two-hand-touch’ style
football games that nearly need an IBM Super Computer to tabulate all the
offensive statistics and records, we finally get a ‘tackle’ style of football
Granted, I like the ‘over’ as detailed in Tuesday's article, but
even a game of 50 points total with solid defensive play and fundamentally
strong tackling and execution will be a welcomed relief. One thing is for
certain, the SEC will make it six straight BCS Championships and one of these
teams will have two of those six wins.
Since these are the two best teams in the nation, as measured by
the BCS, let’s take a look at the team comparison; each unto its own.
Offensive team comparison
The biggest difference between the two teams is that the Alabama Crimson Tide has
a more balanced offensive scheme. Alabama runs the ball 57% and throws 43% of
all plays run this season. By comparison, LSU runs the ball 67% and throws just
33% of all plays run this season.
Both teams will need to have a more balanced attack, which
obviously means that the quarterbacks will have to execute far Better than in
the first meeting. ‘Bama running back Richardson averaged 15.3 rushing yards on
the three carries he had out of the ‘bunches’ formation, which served to spread
the field and get the excellent LSU linebackers positioned away from the middle
of the field. 'Bama will use this formation again, but will throw more pass
plays from it than in the first meeting, serving to keep the LSU defense honest
and having to respect Richardson gashing the middle of the LSU defense.
The bunch formation will feature two wide receivers and a tight
end on the strong side of the offensive formation. Based on what I saw in the
first game, ‘Bama quarterback McCarron and offensive line must be aware
of the backside of the LSU defense getting out of position when they run the
‘bunches’ formation. If LSU Tiger Mathieu cannot track Richardson in this
formation Alabama puts WR Marquis Maze in motion. This movement will force
Mathieu to respect the possible reverse to Maze, who will be circling behind
for the reverse handoff. In an option type of play, McCarron must know if
Mathieu is overcommitted to the run and if so he must then pitch it to Maze for
the reverse that will have big play potential.
There are two areas that make LSU not only one of the best
defenses in the nation, but one of the best all-time. Their defensive front and
the back-end are tremendous with all players possessing elite speed, quickness,
size, and most importantly gap discipline. They also rotate players along the
defensive front and these ‘subs’ would be starters on 95% of the other teams in
The ability to substitute players will have to be negated by
the ‘Bama offense scheme with periodic no-huddle series of plays, once they have
the matchups they want on the field.
Alabama has the advantage in this category with a completion rate
of 66% as compared to LSU’s completion rate of just 60%. However, in the first
game it appeared that McCarron was overwhelmed by the speed of the LSU defense
and pass rush and was forced into poor decisions. This statement is partly true
as it was more that he was intimidated and panicked too may times, when he actually had more time to make the correct read and throw.
No play stands out more in my mind than the one he completely missed
in a wheel route to Richardson in Alabama’s second-to-last offensive play in
overtime. Richardson was wide open and McCarron failed to deliver the ball to
Richardson in what may have been a game winning touchdown. Of course we will
never know if that would have have given them the win, but it certainly would
have changed the flow of the overtime period.
So, McCarron will have had all of this time to study the game
films of every LSU regular season game and will know that it was more his
failure to execute than the LSU ferocity that lost Alabama the first game.
These are all reasons why I see this game being an ‘over’ play where the
adjustments can be made to exploit the defenses.
LSU has two solid quarterbacks that have picked each other up
during the bad times in games this season. The Alabama defense was not good
defending the option in the first game. In the first game, the LSU option
running plays gained 4.2 more rushing yards per attempt than the power-O
formations that were run.
Since Jefferson has become the full-time starter, LSU has run
about 22% more option plays and from a number of different formations.
Alabama’s stud defenders Hightower and Johnson are tenacious defenders against
the run but lack athleticism, moving laterally and getting through offensive
line traffic to make tackles in space. Moreover, I point to the game against
option running Georgia Southern, who carved up Alabama for 302 rushing yards
earlier this season.
I will be releasing a 20* play on the side as part of my college football picks for this BCS
Championship game and it will be found on the NCAA Football with John Ryan thread Monday and
with complete research backing the play featuring the simulator projections,
proven money making and time-tested systems and game situations.