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Alabama Football Film Room: Defense Shuts Down LSU

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The Crimson Tide defense had plenty of splashy plays throughout 2016, but the routine drives were just as important.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

We previously took a look at an important three and out the defense forced against Ole Miss. Let’s look at another one.

Alabama wasn’t exactly having its best offensive performance against LSU this past year. Through almost 40 minutes, its drives went as follows: interception, punt, punt, punt, missed field goal, punt, end of half, downs, punt. The Tigers had a good defense, sure, but the Tide were struggling.

Fortunately, J.K. Scott had pinned LSU at their own 3 yard line. The defense did its thing and quickly forced a punt, giving the offense the ball at their own 42 yard line. Unfortunately, this happens on the second play of the drive.

Frank Herron knocks the ball out, and Arden Key recovers for LSU. It’s Hurts’ second turnover of the game.

1st and 10: LSU is in prime field position now. They haven’t had much luck moving the ball prior to this, but they don’t have to go far to get into field goal range from the Alabama 42 yard line.

LSU comes out in the I-formation with TE Colin Jeter on the right. Bama has three down linemen and Ryan Anderson standing up outside Jeter. It’s a playaction to Leonard Fournette, but QB Danny Etling barely has time to look downfield. The fullback gets (mis)matched up against Anderson, who beats the block to the outside, forcing Etling to scramble. Etling steps up and takes off to the right to try and get some room. He doesn’t get any. Reuben Foster blitzed, and he gets by Jeter once Etling takes off. To Etling’s credit, he somehow spins and evades the Reuben Missile Crisis and just shovels a pass to Jeter.

Da’Ron Payne is right there and grabs ahold of Jeter a yard or two past the line of scrimmage. Payne can’t bring him down, but he drags him to the sideline. They stay locked on the sideline and Payne is suddenly surrounded by Tigers. There’s some shoving back-and-forth as more Alabama players come over, and flags get thrown. Unsportsmanlike conduct gets called on three Bama players and one LSU player, so the penalties offset.

2nd and 5: LSU, of course, is back in the I-form with two tight ends; and everybody in the world is ready for what happens next. Etling hands it to Fournette; and, if the center, Ethan Pocic had successfully blocked Reuben Foster, Fournette may have actually gotten a first down. Pocic didn’t, however; and Foster sheds the block with laughable ease. He crashes into Fournette, who goes down for a 2 yard gain.

3rd and 8: LSU is late getting out of the huddle on 3rd and 3 and gets flagged for a delay of game. It really should’ve been a false start, but 5 yards is 5 yards. Anyway...

The Tigers go from 3rd and short on the Alabama 35 yard line to 3rd and long on the 40. And the Alabama defense loves 3rd and longs.

Bama has two down linemen (Jonathan Allen and Davlin Tomlinson) and three others (Foster and Rashaan Evans on the left, Tim Williams on the right) standing up near the line of scrimmage. Evans darts off to cover Fournette, Williams rushes, and Foster sits back and spies Etling. LSU’s tight ends stay in to block, so they have seven blockers against the three rushers. Both tight ends are on LSU’s right, however, the opposite side from Williams. With Fournette flaring out into the flat, this leaves the left tackle one-on-one against Williams, completely negating any advantage in numbers they have.

The tackle is slow to kick out, and he’s doomed from the get-go. Williams explodes past him, dips his shoulder, and gets the edge. Etling has to step up; but, oh wait, there’s Jonathan Allen, who’s beaten his double team. Etling tries to escape to his right; but, oh wait, there’s Dalvin Tomlinson. Tomlinson wraps his arms around him and starts dragging him down, but Etling manages to throw a wobbler. Unfortunately for LSU, while Etling was outside the box, the ball comes as close to the line of scrimmage as the Tigers come to scoring this game. It’s intentional grounding, and LSU is out of field goal range. Punt time.

It’s a good punt, and it pins Alabama on their 10 yard line. The defense came through in the clutch, once more bailing out the offense. The offense finally responded, though, and strung together a 90 yard touchdown drive.