It seems odd to me that most of the post-game coverage of Alabama's overtime win over LSU was centered around Blake Sims. Granted the Tide quarterback threw the winning touchdown but overall, he had a less-than-stellar game. The true hero of this game was the defensive unit as a whole.
LSU quarterback, Anthony Jennings, was held to 8 of 26 passing for a scant 76 yards. That is a microscopic 2.9 yards per reception. That was his second lowest yardage output behind the Tigers' 63-7 rout of New Mexico State in which he played sparingly. Against Alabama, Jennings recorded a 60.3 QB rating - his only full game rating under 100. And this with only one turnover, an interception by Bama cornerback Eddie Jackson.
Jennings did have one spectacular throw in a fade to Malachi Dupre that resulted in the Tigers first and only touchdown of the game. Bama cornerback had excellent coverage on the play but it was a perfect throw. There is not much you can complain about there.
Speaking of the corners, when you don't hear their names called much, it is usually a good thing. Dupre has had a good freshman campaign with 11 catches, 257 yards, and 4 touchdowns coming into the game. The 6-2 receiver was blanketed most of the night and limited to the one catch. The Tigers' leading receiver Travin Dural (30 catches, 701 yards, 7 TDs) had only 3 receptions for 25 yards. His total yardage on the evening was one more than Bama's offensive tackle turned tight end Brandon Greene had on his sole 24-yard catch.
The only real offensive success the Bayou Bengals had was on the ground. Even so, they were held to 183 yards and 0 scores. Leonard Fournette was the leading rusher with 79 yards on 21 carries. Terrence Magee ran 12 times for 29, and Anthony Jennings scrambled for 40 on 13 tries.
The swarming Alabama defense was led by defensive lineman Jarran Reed who recorded 2 solo tackles but 13 assists. Linebacker Reggie Ragland had another big game with 4 solos and 9 assists despite playing with a broken hand bone. The real interesting stat is that as a team, the Crimson Tide had 28 solos and 76 assisted tackles. That is a lot of ganging up on guys. Another interesting number is the longest play from scrimmage for LSU being a 17-yard reception by Magee. When you hear coach Nick Saban talk about limiting explosive plays, that is what he is talking about.
THE STAND, Part 1
The biggest sequence on the night was undoubtedly the wall the defense put up after Bama running back T.J. Yeldon fumbled at his own 6-yard line. With 1:13 to go in a 10-10 game, you might have thought that LSU would run some clock and punch it in to take the lead. But the Tide defense had other ideas.
On first down, Magee was brick-walled at the line but LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, moving the Tigers back 15 yards. Fournette gained one yard followed by a 2 yard loss by Jennings. The Tigers settled for a 39-yard field goal but the victory went to the Crimson Tide defense on that drive.
THE STAND, Part 2
After Lane Kiffin opened up the playbook to the very back pages, the Tide took a 20-13 lead in the first overtime possession.
Come LSU's turn, the Bama defensive line kept solid pressure on Jennings, the linebackers covered the middle, and the secondary denied the end zone. Jennings' four pass attempts all found their way safely to the turf.
Up Next: Mississippi State
The Bulldogs will definitely bring in an upgrade in opposing offense. The Alabama defense came out relatively healthy (no news on linebacker Dillon Lee as of yet) and full of confidence. It is games like this that can pull a unit together.