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Alabama Football 2015: Previewing the LSU Offense

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Leonard Fournette? Leonard Fournette.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

LSU will be LSU. The offense will line up and be exactly what everyone expects, as it is every year. It is pure, old man football. Even when the Tigers had a passing game a few years that had dynamic receivers such as Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry, their identity was never in question. The LSU Tigers will run the ball. And they will run it some more. The entire world could know a run is coming, but the Tigers will dare the defense to stop it anyway.

The running game is spearheaded by the next freakishly talented back in line for LSU, and this one might be the most freakishly talented of them all. Sophomore Leonard Fournette was heralded as the best running back in decades when he left high school, and has lived up to those impossibly lofty expectations in college. At 6'1" 230, Fournette is built like a tank, and has deceptive speed and agility to complement his brutish size. Fournette leads the entire nation in rushing yards and touchdowns with 1,352 and 15, respectively. And has done that on four less carries than Alabama's own Derrick Henry. He is averaging an outstanding 7.7 yards per carry, and that number tends to slowly go up in each successive quarter in a football game. Fournette gets better and better as games go on. Wanna know a scary stat? Fournette has been given the ball 9 total times within 10 yards of the opponent's goal line. He scored a touchdown on 6 of those. Now that is red zone efficiency. Fournette is one of those running backs that are only seen once a decade in college football, and is the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy for a reason.

Behind Fournette, sophomore Darrel Williams and freshman Derrius Guice have combined for 581 yards on 84 carries. Williams is the more reliable and experienced back, while Guice is always a threat to break off a long run. In fact, Guice is averaging a ridiculous 9.3 yards per carry.

LSU will rise and fall along with their running game. However, this does not mean that they don't effectively use the pass to keep defenses from keying in too much on Fournette. Sophomore QB Brandon Harris has shown tremendous improvement from his less than stellar 2014 debut, and has not thrown a single interception so far in 2015 (emphasis on "so far"). However, Harris has only put up 1,098 yards on a less than stellar 58% completion rate. Though he has not been spectacular, Harris has proven to be a more consistent quarterback that is an asset to his team, rather than a liability.

Harris has a talented duo of weapons at receiver in junior Travin Dural and sophomore Malachi Dupre. At 6'2", Dural is a taller receiver with a versatile skill set and leads the team with 426 yards on an impressive 17.8 yards per catch. Dural is Brandon Harris's most trusted receiver, and is his go-to man on third downs. In fact, over half of Dural's production has been on third down.

His partner in crime, Malachi Dupre, is a slightly taller, immensely talented receiver. While Dural has gotten most of the crucial third down targets, Dupre has done the most damage on the more scripted first down plays. Dupre has put up 397 yards on an 18.9 yards per catch average. He is the team's go-to red zone threat, and has recorded 5 touchdowns already on the year.

Outside of those two, no other receiver has caught more than a few passes. In fact, Fournette is third on the team with all of 7 receptions.

Again, this game will come down to one question: Can Alabama stop (or at least limit) Leonard Fournette? The LSU passing game, while it has not made any glaring mistakes, has not proven to be able to move this offense in a tight game. Given Alabama's ability to shut down run games, this could likely turn into a defense bloodbath akin to the 2011 season.