LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee (left) has thrown only one interception in 155 attempts this season. He shares snaps with fellow senior Jordan Jefferson. Alabama running back Trent Richardson’s (right) 989 rushing yards lead the SEC, and his 18 total TDs — including one receiving — put him tied for second nationally in scoring.
Bobby Johnson was the head coach at Vanderbilt from 2002-09. He was the Southeastern Conference coach of the year in 2008 after leading the Commodores to a bowl victory for the first time since 1955. Johnson, who retired in 2010 and lives in Charleston, breaks down tonight’s SEC showdown in Tuscaloosa, Ala., (8 p.m., WCSC-TV/CBS) between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama.
Alabama offense vs. LSU defense
Alabama has the one weapon that LSU doesn’t have and that’s running back Trent Richardson. Alabama is not afraid to slug it out with anyone in the country. They’ll stick with their running game. They don’t panic. They’ll continue to run the ball even if you stop them early. They’re not going to throw the ball all over the field because you stop them for a quarter or a half of football. Quarterback A.J. McCarron manages the game very well. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and Alabama doesn’t need him to win games with that defense.
LSU is extremely physical on defense because the Tigers have great skill people in the secondary, which allows them to put a lot of people at the line of scrimmage to stop the run.
Cornerback Morris Claiborne has been a one-man wrecking crew for causing turnovers. When you’ve got a player like that, it allows you to put guys on the line of scrimmage to stop the run.
They’ve got a very physical and very fast front seven.
Advantage: Alabama offense
LSU offense vs. Alabama defense
The only weakness I think the LSU offense has is at quarterback, but I wouldn’t really call it a weakness.
Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson are both playing and both bring something different to the table. Lee, a lot like McCarron at Alabama, manages the game well, but can make a throw when given the opportunity. I think Lee is a little more athletic than people give him credit for. Jefferson is a big, physical quarterback. You can make the right call, have everyone in place to make a play, but Jefferson will use his athletic ability to beat you. That’s what makes him special.
Alabama has an outstanding defense. They can do it all. They can blitz if they want to, they can play coverage if they want to. They’re a very disciplined group. They are good tacklers. They don’t have the stars, the big-name players that you’d expect from a unit like this, but everyone knows their assignments. Dont’a Hightower might be their only superstar, he’s a great linebacker. This defense is very versatile and can do it all.
Advantage: Alabama defense
Les Miles vs. Nick Saban
Two great college coaches. There’s no secret to being a great college coach. You recruit the best players and hire a great coaching staff. They’ve both done that. I think game-day adjustments are very overrated. You make those adjustments during the week. So, if plan A isn’t working, you go to Plan B or Plan C, but that’s already been determined during the week.
Les probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He’s a little unorthodox, but you can’t argue with his results. Don’t let his demeanor fool you, he’s an excellent coach.
Organizational, coach Saban is one of the best. But I think people forget that Alabama lost to Louisiana-Monroe the first year Nick was at Alabama, so it’s about the players and he has the players now.
Advantage: Nick Saban
Alabama will win if ...
They play efficiently on offense because I know they’ll play great on defense.
LSU will win if ...
They can make a few big plays on offense because I don’t see them having long, sustained drives against Alabama.
Alabama 21, LSU 13