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Sport Offense, not defenses, will decide who wins the Alabama-LSU showdown

16:01  09 november  2019
16:01  09 november  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

Alabama-LSU rivalry is back because the Tigers transformed under Ed Orgeron

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Offense , not defenses , will decide who wins the Alabama - LSU showdown . Yet much has changed since the last time LSU won a game in this series, during the famous 9-6 overtime victory eight years ago this week, and nowhere is the shift in style and approach more evident than in how

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LSU began looking at Alabama’s offense during the spring, eight or nine months before Saturday's matchup between the top-ranked teams in the Amway Coaches Poll. At daybreak on Monday, the Tigers' defensive coaching staff met to discuss how to slow down the Crimson Tide's quick-slant passing game, which looks to deliver the ball in stride to the nation's most impressive receiver corps.

The helmets and jerseys are the same; Nick Saban keeps chugging along as Alabama's head coach; the defenses remain stingy, if to a lesser degree than in the recent past; and the Tigers and the Tide are still among the gold standard in the Bowl Subdivision. Yet much has changed since the last time LSU won a game in this series, during the famous 9-6 overtime victory eight years ago this week, and nowhere is the shift in style and approach more evident than in how this game will be centered on offensive fireworks.

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"I feel the game has changed," said former Alabama running back and NFL MVP Shaun Alexander, who will make an appearance pregame at Bryant-Denny Stadium with the Amway Coaches Poll Trophy, which is awarded in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Association to the winner of the College Football Playoff.

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"You even compare it to Coach Saban’s first team (at Alabama). It was run the ball, stop the run, make everybody one-dimensional, don’t turn over the football and the defense would really just choke the life out of you."

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Alabama and LSU meet in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown that will have College Football Playoff and No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 LSU were the last two teams at the top of the Amway Coaches Poll to play In addition to likely deciding the SEC West, this game should also impact the Heisman Trophy

Indeed, Alabama has not seen anything like LSU . The best offense it has faced is Texas A&M’s Alabama and LSU will clear up a lot of questions. Everyone will be watching, anticipating those That could make him more of a stationary quarterback who can’t move around in the pocket much, helping

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Alabama ranks ninth nationally in yards per game, second in yards per play and second in scoring. Behind a revamped scheme, LSU ranks fourth in yards per game, fifth in yards per play and fourth in scoring. An offense that was once often the program's worst enemy — and hadn't scored more than 17 points in a game against Alabama during the eight-game losing streak — has turned dominant and is suddenly pushing LSU to the forefront of the Playoff race.

The LSU offense is a "totally different offensive scheme," Saban said, with the "capability to create balance in the offense. They spread you out and create some matchup problems because of the great skill guys that they have outside in their wide receiver corps."

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Alabama also played two quarterbacks in that game, but now have settled on A.J.Mccarron. Trent Richardson will also look to rebound from an under 100 yard rushing effort, and will benefit from the fast track of New Orleans Super Dome. It will be the offense that makes the least mistakes, that will find

The Alabama - LSU showdown has loomed over the College Football Playoff projections since the Tigers beat Texas in Week 2. In addition to likely deciding the SEC West, this game should also impact the Heisman Trophy race with LSU's Joe Burrow and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa among the top

The Tigers' better-late-than-never embrace of a spread-based system has changed the program's trajectory under coach Ed Orgeron and served as the clearest signal that offensive ingenuity now rules the sport's highest level.

"It goes to show you the direction of the SEC," Orgeron said. "The spread offense is here to stay."

Alabama and LSU once looked strikingly similar on both sides of the ball — unsurprisingly, given how Saban won a national championship with the Tigers before joining Alabama, sandwiching in the middle a two-year stint with the Miami Dolphins. Two programs forged under Saban's blueprint once shared away a traditional, tried-and-true formula predicated on the run.

In 2011, for example, the Tigers and the Tide combined for 72 carries to 46 pass attempts. Two years later, it was a combined 73 carries to 43 pass attempts. In last year's 29-0 win, on the other hand, Alabama threw the ball 42 times, completing 25, against 37 running plays for 281 yards. The Tide's balance and explosiveness, berthed roughly five seasons ago with a move toward a shotgun-heavy system reliant on quarterback play, stood in stark contrast to LSU's plodding and antiquated philosophy. Eventually, LSU decided to imitate Alabama's change in style.

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Alabama won the rematch 21-0 in the national championship game and hasn't lost to its SEC West rival LSU's Ed Orgeron. LSU is "extremely explosive on offense , still play really good on defense . The president's decision to attend Alabama - LSU , Tide receiver Henry Ruggs III said " shows the

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"I still say ’Bama is still ’Bama, and you can’t beat ’Bama being ’Bama," said Alexander. "It still feels like Alabama football to me, in that we’re taking what’s going on and we’re trying to make it better."

The Tide have found the perfect centerpiece in junior Tua Tagovailoa, who is expected to start on Saturday less than two weeks after needing surgery for a high-ankle sprain. Tagovailoa has been making progress, Saban said, but he's "not going to play the guy if he can’t move." Dynamic when healthy, Tagovailoa has been less productive in the past when slowed by lower-body injuries.

LSU has its own Heisman Trophy contender in quarterback Joe Burrow, the former Ohio State transfer who ranks second nationally in yards per game and touchdowns. Already this season, Burrow has set single-season program records for touchdown passes and total touchdowns to go with the career record for most 300-yard passing games. The Tigers' top three pass-catchers, led by junior Justin Jefferson, have combined for 26 touchdowns,  and with 5-9, 210-pound running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Tigers have gained at least 500 yards of offense in noteworthy wins against Texas, Florida and Auburn.

It's indicative of the seismic changes that rippled through this series, the SEC and college football at large: LSU and Alabama will be decided on offense. Unlike in 2011, defense alone no longer wins national championships.

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No. 1 LSU ’s Burrow and No. 2 Alabama ’s Tagovailoa both could make a strong case going into Saturday’s game. Unlike Beckham and Landry, who have had NFL seasons that aren’t too far away from their LSU career numbers, these groups have been piling up catches, yards and touchdowns all

"For Alabama to be that consistent, it speaks volumes about the depth chart Nick has built, his coaches and the atmosphere and tradition there at Bryant-Denny," said Hugh Freeze, who steered Ole Miss to back-to-back wins over Alabama in 2014 and 2015 and is now the head coach at Liberty University .

"Back then it used to be two backs in the backfield, be a huddle, they would take their time, they would come to the line of scrimmage, run the play," Orgeron said. "And it's totally different. It's like basketball on grass now. But you know what, that's the way it is. You have to score points now to win in college football."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Offense, not defenses, will decide who wins the Alabama-LSU showdown

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