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Preview: Alabama Offensive Line vs. LSU Defensive Line

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Not the LSU D-line of the past, but still really good

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Orange Bowl-Alabama vs Oklahoma Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

When Alabama and LSU play in this #1 vs #2 contest of titans, one of the most important match-ups that will be going on is Alabama’s offensive line vs LSU’s front 7. In volume 2 of the “Game of the Century”, things will look more flashy on the field (and on the scoreboard, for that matter) than volume 1, but, despite all the hype around the skill positions, the battle in the trenches will still be one of the most important match-ups and probably the deciding factor in the game.

The Alabama offensive line has given up 9 sacks so far in 2019, which is good for 14th in the country in sacks allowed. Pass blocking has definitely been a strong suit for the line this season. The Tide has been constantly improving on getting a good push up front, leading to the running game improving. The LSU game is always won between the trenches in some way or another and this game is no exception. Alabama’s offensive line is already good and has been trending in the right direction all season. The starters for the Tide are redshirt junior and Florida State transfer Landon Dickerson at center, junior returning starter Alex Leatherwood at left tackle, freshman Evan Neal at left guard, redshirt junior and returning starter Deonte Brown at right guard, and junior returning starter Jedrick Wills Jr at right tackle. This group is a major reason why the Alabama offense ranks #4 in the country in offense success rate.

On the other side of the ball, the LSU defense success rate is #11. The Tigers defensive line has sacked the quarterback 20 times this season, ranking 39th in the country. LSU ranks 27th in the country in stuff rate. Much like the Alabama defense, LSU and their defensive line aren’t what they have been in the years past, but so far this year they have been good enough to win and that is exactly what they have been doing. Some names to look out for are Glen Logan, Rashard Lawrence, Neil Farrell Jr, Breiden Fehoko, and Tyler Shelvin. The typical starters are Glen Logan, Rashard Lawrence, and Tyler Shelvin, but all play key roles on the LSU defensive line. Senior defensive end Rashard Lawrence is a permanent team captain. He has been a starter since his freshman year and is the most experienced player on the LSU defense. In 2018, he dominated UCF in the Fiesta Bowl and was named Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP. Junior defensive end Glen Logan has been a starter since last year, which was his breakout season. Sophomore nose tackle Tyler Shelvin is massive. He comes in at 6-3, 346 pounds, but even with his size, he has a lot of athletic ability. All of these guys do a good job of getting into the backfield.

The linebackers for the Tigers are really solid. Much like the line, the linebackers do a good job of stopping the run. The LSU defense ranks #9 in the country in yards per carry. They also rank 28th in the country in havoc rate. Junior linebacker Jacob Phillips leads the team in tackles so far this season with 64 total tackles. He is a returning starter for the Tigers, last season he finished second on the team in tackles. Senior Michael Divinity Jr leads the team in sacks this season. He has been a starter since the 2017 season. Sophomore K’Lavon Chaisson wears the number 18 jersey, which is awarded to LSU players who best represent LSU football. Though only a sophomore, he is one of the best players on the LSU defense. He is a good edge rusher, but he can also drop back into coverage. He isn’t the most experienced guy, as he missed all but one game last year with an injury, but he is playing like a veteran.

LSU will be one of the tougher match-ups for the Alabama offensive line this season, but the Alabama line is definitely ready for the challenge. Alabama’s offensive line and LSU’s defensive line are pretty evenly matched. Alabama has a slight edge in most statistics, but both teams are pretty close in all of them. Alabama has been improving with every game and I think that the improvement will continue against the Tigers. The offensive line is shaping into one of the best groups on the team, and I think that the LSU game will help shape them into their best. Everybody on Alabama’s offensive line has played in huge games except for freshman Evan Neal, but I think he will grow up fast and play well. LSU is the same way, they have all played in big games, but nothing as big as what is going to happen in Bryant-Denny on Saturday. As I said before, this game will be won in the trenches and Alabama’s offensive line and LSU’s defensive front is definitely a matchup to look out for.