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The Jumbo Package | 11.06.14

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Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes.

chuggachugga chuggachugga  BRING ON THAT FOWLER BOOM TRAIN
chuggachugga chuggachugga BRING ON THAT FOWLER BOOM TRAIN
Kevin C. Cox

Alabama RB T.J. Yeldon will 'for sure' play at LSU, Cam Robinson still uncertain | AL.com

Running back T.J. Yeldon "will play for sure" at 7 p.m. Saturday in Baton Rouge, Saban said on the Wednesday SEC teleconference. The junior didn't practice last week and was working separately from the other running backs in the media viewing periods Monday and Tuesday. Alabama's leading rusher has been dealing with an injured foot for the past few weeks.

For starting left tackle, Cam Robinson, Saban said he'd be "day to day" coming off the high ankle sprain suffered two weeks ago at Tennessee. "As we increase the workload, it will be based on how his ankle sorta responds to the workload," Saban said. "So we just have to take that day to day."

Alabama practice report: Updating a few key injuries as kickoff at LSU approaches | AL.com

For the first time this week (during media viewing), T.J. Yeldon was going through the drills with the running backs. Earlier Wednesday, Nick Saban said he'd "for sure" play at LSU after dealing with foot problems in recent weeks. Yeldon looked fine out there, no limping.

Left tackle Cam Robinson continued to look solid in practice less than two weeks after his high ankle sprain. He continued working with the second team behind Austin Shepherd, but it looked like he slipped in for at least one rep with the first group. Saban said Robinson remains a day-to-day decision and isn't being ruled out for LSU.

With Alabama poised to start 5th different O-line combination, can run game keep rolling at LSU? | AL.com

"Everybody has kind of embraced their role of what they need to do. I think that they've done a good job," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "Obviously there are always things that you can do better, you're never really satisfied with where you are, but I think there's been a lot of positive performances from that group this year and as the season's gone on."

The positivity in Alabama's past two games has centered on the offensive line's improved push in the running game. After rushing for just 66 yards against Arkansas, the Crimson Tide followed with 298 against Texas A&M and 183 at Tennessee. Alabama had just two rushing touchdowns in its first three SEC games but has five in its past two.

The first series after Robinson went down was, perhaps, one of the Alabama offensive line's most important of the season. The reconfigured group plowed the way for 57 rushing yards on a 76-yard drive that iced the Crimson Tide's victory.

LSU Tigers-Alabama Crimson Tide defensive breakdown - ESPN

LSU

Thanks largely to Amari Cooper (71 catches, 1,132 yards, nine touchdowns), Alabama has much more than a run-only offense. Keeping Cooper under wraps will be a major test for an LSU secondary that enters as the SEC’s top pass defense (158.4 ypg).

For the most part, LSU cornerbacks Tre’Davious White, Rashard Robinson and Jalen Collins have been impressive this season. Opponents have beaten them deep a time or two, but they have mostly supplied tight coverage to this point. They will all get their shots covering Cooper on Saturday.

Safety has been a bit more of an adventure at times. Veterans Ronald Martin (48 tackles, two interceptions, team-high seven pass breakups) and Jalen Mills (36 tackles, three tackles for loss) are the starters, but youngsters Rickey Jefferson and Jamal Adams have made some big plays lately. Keep an eye on Adams in particular, as he is quickly developing into a star in the LSU secondary.

Alabama Crimson Tide-LSU Tigers offensive breakdown - ESPN

LSU

Possibly the most important player on the field Saturday will be LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings. Not because he will throw it around like a Big 12 quarterback -- Jennings has averaged just 16.8 pass attempts in his eight starts -- but because he’ll have to make it count when he does drop back to pass. It’s no secret that LSU will lean heavily on the run. The Tigers have kept the ball on the ground 70 percent of the time this season, and they will almost certainly be a run-first team on Saturday. But when Alabama has been vulnerable on defense, it has been in pass coverage. Jennings needs to be able to make the Crimson Tide at least respect the pass.

Blake Sims looks to AJ McCarron's 2012 LSU game as guide to surviving Tiger Stadium | AL.com

He likes Blake Sims' instinctive style, but there was room for more consistency entering a crucial final month of the season. There have been a few of the self-inflicted issues with Alabama's offense before the 7 p.m. Saturday visit to LSU. Wrong formations, incorrect play calls or bad reads at the line have kept the No. 5 Crimson Tide from some of those goals.

To fix the issues, Sims said he spent some extra time with offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin to speed up his process at the line of scrimmage. "By watching film, you've got to pick things you've got to key," Sims said. "Try to pick something out of their defense you can see and know it alerts to you and lets you know, 'I see that now and I need to make the change.'"

That'll be a little more challenging Saturday in the final road game of Alabama's season. Communicating those changes will be complex in famously-deafening Tiger Stadium.

Alabama FB Jalston Fowler humbled by fumble at Tennessee, excited for more chances to run | AL.com

Injuries, though, have thrust Fowler back into a position where he may be needed at running back. Starter T.J. Yeldon is dealing with a foot injury, Kenyan Drake is out for the season and Tyren Jones has been in and out of the lineup with an injury and a suspension.

Fowler's first carry of the season also came against Tennessee, as he plowed 3 yards on a third-and-1 during the second quarter.

"It's exciting anytime you get to run the ball when you've been blocking so much," Fowler said. "I've been looking forward to it. Some games I've been wanting to beg for it but I don't want to be a pest."

Fowler's been platooning at fullback and running back for the past two weeks of practice. Yeldon's anticipated to play against LSU, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Fowler toting the ball for a second straight game.

"It's still natural for me but sometimes I get loose with the ball," Fowler said. "I just got to fix that."

Sidelined at practice last week with an eye injury, Magee was back to work this week and is expected to play Saturday against Alabama. LSU coach Les Miles told reporters in Baton Rouge that Magee, a senior, had "fresh legs" thanks to the rest.

Magee exited the Tigers' last game against Ole Miss when he was poked in the eye. He's the team's second-leading rusher behind freshman Leonard Fournette with 69 carries for 418 yards and three touchdowns.

Time to Learn Who These Teams Are - And The Valley Shook

This is LSU's third game against a team currently ranked in the top five, but State has a win over #3 Auburn and Auburn has wins over #7 Kansas St and #11 Ole Miss. Bama hasn't even played a team in the top ten, and their only top 25 win is over a team just barely ranked. That doesn't mean they aren't good, it means we simply don't know how good they are. This team looked pretty ordinary against Arkansas and they didn't exactly take Tennessee to the woodshed.

Still, Florida's got a pretty stout defense, and Bama went for 672 yards against them. The defense still hasn't allowed a team to gain 400 yards and only two teams (West Virginia and Tennessee) have managed to clear 350. There's some schedule effects here, but you can't hide for a whole season. Alabama is real good, the question is whether this team is great.

LSU has improved a lot in the past month. At home, they can beat a real good team with an insane crowd behind them. But this team has also proved they are not in the class of great. If Alabama is great team, it could be a long night for LSU. There's nowhere for anyone to hide. Truths will reveal themselves on Saturday Night in Death Valley.

Videos
Nick Saban Wednesday press conference

Wednesday practice footage (linebackers, offensive line, defensive backs)

Wednesday practice footage (defensive linemen)
DeAndrew White (wide receiver) interview

Ryan Kelly (offensive line) interview