No Sleep Till Football

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Alabama Wins National Championship!

Alabama hammered LSU last night 21-0 to win the national championship in convincing fashion. I picked the Tide to win simply because you can’t give Nick Saban that much time to prepare for a single team and expect to beat him. Forget it. He’s by far the best head coach in college football and it’s not even close. Saban is in a class by himself. I have a few thoughts from the game that I wanted to mention. In the next couple of days I’ll have my final Power-15 for the 2011 season which will have a little bit more about each team. Here we go.

1. To me the game felt a lot like the first meeting in Tuscaloosa when LSU won 9-6 in OT. If you’ll remember in that game, Alabama moved the ball fairly easily but got really bogged down once it got into scoring range in LSU’s territory. The one big difference between the two games was that Alabama was hitting their FG attempts last night and not in Tuscaloosa. If you’ll recall, Cade Foster & Jeremy Shelley combined to hit just 2 of 6 FG attempts in Alabama’s loss earlier in the season. Last night Jeremy Shelley did all the kicking and hit 5 of his 7 field goals only missing one on his own as another was blocked. If Alabama hits 50% of their FG earlier in the season, LSU doesn’t run the table and Alabama does. I don’t think the outcome would have been any different except Alabama would have been 14-0 at season’s end instead of just 12-1.

2. Jordan Jefferson should have been pulled from the game at the very latest when LSU went down 12-0 early in the 3rd quarter. The LSU offense was getting N-O-T-H-I-N-G from their initial game plan. Whatever they drew up simply wasn’t working. It was fairly obvious that the Tigers were hoping to run a type of option attack off of Jefferson, but the problem was that Jefferson looked very scared and timid on his pitches. When you run an option attack, the QB has to hold onto the ball until the last possibly moment before deciding to keep the football or pitching it to the option back. This is why you hear over and over and over again that against an option attack, defenses have to play very disciplined football. Last night it didn’t even matter. There were a couple of occasions where Jefferson pitched the ball so early to his runner that the LB covering Jefferson had time to run the option back down! That was insane! I don’t know if bringing in Jarrett Lee would have made any difference, but LSU’s offense was terrible.

3. To be fair, remember that in the 4 games LSU played between their dates with the Tide, they scored a grand total of 177 points or 44.3ppg! Sure one of the games was against Western Kentucky, but the other 3 games came against Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi. If you look at those games you see that Jefferson went 38 of 63 (60.3%) for 494 yards & 4TD to only one interception. But therein lies the problem to a certain degree. In those 4 games, Jefferson doesn’t look horrible, but you realize that he throws about 15 passes per game and completes about 9 of them. In those 4 games, LSU rushes the ball 181 times for 1137 yards which equals a 6.3ypc average. Clearly LSU banked on their ability to run the football even more now later in the season than at the beginning.

4. LSU simply couldn’t run the ball. Last night LSU rank the ball 27 times for 39 yards which equals out to a 1.4ypc. Note that in the 9-6 win earlier in the season LSU ran the ball 41 times for 148 yards which equals a 3.6ypc. That isn’t a great margin, but it keeps the chains moving. There is a lot to learn in those stats alone. Those stats teach us……………………

5. Nick Saban was going to key on the run and make Jefferson beat the Tide with his arm. If you had to key in on one specific aspect to watch during the national championship game it would have been keying on Alabama’s ability to stop LSU’s running game. You knew from the first game that Alabama was going to get their chances. That was much was evident. Sure it was obvious that Alabama had to hit their field goals considering that their inability to do so cost them a perfect season albeit it didn’t cost them a national championship which was more important anyhow. Even so, the LSU running game was probably the biggest story going into the game. If LSU ran wild like they had been doing over the last half of the season then Alabama may have run into problems because LSU could have played ball control football all night. Unfortunately for LSU, Alabama had other ideas.

6. This of course speaks to Saban understanding that Jefferson hadn’t won a big game in his entire career at LSU. Remember that outside of Alabama, the two toughest games on LSU’s schedule was probably West Virginia & Oregon. Jefferson didn’t beat those teams while playing QB. Jarrett Lee did beat them. As a junior, Jefferson had a couple of big road games against ranked teams in Auburn & Arkansas. He lost both of them. In 2009 as  a sophomore, Jefferson played in 4 games against ranked opponents. He lost every one of them. The biggest game Jefferson won in his career at LSU was probably this season when LSU beat Alabama 9-6, but Jefferson didn’t start, and while Lee did throw two picks early to the Tide defense, it wasn’t like Jefferson came in and lit the Alabama defense on fire with his passing prowess. This isn’t a knock on Jefferson per se. It’s simply Saban willing to make Jefferson beat Alabama when Jefferson never really had no experience beating a great team on a huge stage. Jefferson couldn’t answer that call.

7. I think it was unfortunate that Jarrett Lee didn’t get into the game. Remember that this was Lee’s last game as a collegiate football player and it would have been nice to have seen him get some time on the field. I thought at a minimum Lee should have been out there when Alabama went up 12-0, but Miles still kept Jefferson in the game. I sort of don’t get it really. On a tangential note, I wonder how this affects recruiting if at all? Miles handling of Lee, at least to me, didn’t look very good. Recently 5-star pro-style QB Gunner Kiel (Columbus, IN) committed to LSU after getting down to Notre Dame, Vanderbilt & LSU after he decommited from Indiana. Miles’s love affair with Jefferson over the past 4 seasons reeks of Miles falling in love with those “dual” threat QBs. It’ll be interesting to see how Zach Mettenberger does the next couple of years before Kiel most likely takes over as a junior or a redshirt sophomore. What happened to Lee simply left a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe there was a great reason for it, but I can’t find one at the moment.

8. Thank you Nick Saban for showing us that that defense wins championships!

Those are my initial thoughts on the game. I think the game was a lot like the first contest except Alabama didn’t miss their FGs. LSU was also -2 in TO margin last night which didn’t help matters. With the talent at Alabama, there is simply no way you can prepare for and beat Nick Saban. If he’s motivated to coach up the kids and there is a championship to be won, then I would never bet against the man. That same can’t be said for Les Miles unfortunately for LSU Nation. At the end of the day, LSU’s offense simply couldn’t get going and I think the key was LSU abandoning the run and allowing Jefferson (or Lee!) the opportunity to try and open up the running game by getting the vertical game going first. Alabama dared LSU to do that very thing, but LSU couldn’t get it done and Alabama cruised.

Congratulation Tide! A championship well deserved!

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January 10, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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