Weekend Preview: Alabama vs LSU

Week 10 of the college football season doesn’t bring us a long list of top match ups or many games, but what it does offer is a dream match up for draftniks. It’s no secret that LSU and Alabama have been two of the most talent rich programs over the last decade and these years’ teams are no different. With over twenty draftable prospects on both teams we’ve decided to use the Weekend Scouting Guide to focus solely on this game.

When LSU Has the Ball

 

Alabama Prospects

#93 DE Jonathan Allen

#54 DE Dalvin Tomlinson

#9 DE Da’Shawn Hand

#56 OLB Tim Williams

#22 OLB Ryan Anderson

#10 ILB Ruben Foster

#20 ILB Shaun Dion-Hamilton

#26 CB Marlon Humphrey

LSU Prospects

#7 RB Leonard Fournette

#83 WR Travis Dural

#15 WR Malachi Dupree

#77 C Ethan Pocic

But if the Crimson Tide are going to limit Fournette for a second straight year, it’s going to be a team effort and their linebackers will have to play big and wrap up. ILB Ruben Foster gets the most attention and it’s well deserved. Foster has side line to sideline speed and can hit with authority while running mate Shaun Dion-Hamilton is more athletic and works better in space. While Foster and Dion-Hamiltion will look to clog up the middle it will fall on outside backers Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson to set the edge and force Fournette back inside so they can gang tackle him better. Both Williams and Anderson are known for being more of a situational pass rusher but has shown in limited opportunities that he set the edge and play the run. They’ll get a prime opportunity in this game to show they can be more than just pass rushers, which should help their draft stock.The best match ups of the game are when LSU is on offense. Under interim head coach Ed Orgeron the Tigers are showing more spread type looks in an effort to open up the offense, but let’s frank they’re still going to pound the rock with Leonard Fournette early and often. In last year’s game against Alabama Fournette struggled gaining only 31 yards and costing him the Heisman Trophy. Gone are Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson who clogged up the running lane and now the duty to clog up the lanes falls on Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson and Da’Shawn Hand. Allen has been on fire this year taking over for stretches of games. Allen and Hand are both more of penetrators who will look to get into the backfield and force Fournette to change course. While LSU’s offensive line isn’t loaded with draftable prospects, center Ethan Pocic is the top rated center in this class and will have his hands full with Dalvin Tomlinson and sophomore Da’Ron Payne (not draft eligible).

Despite any formation changes Alabama is going to load the box to shut down the run and force the Tigers to beat them through the air. LSU has two talented NFL caliber receivers in Travin Dural and Malachi Dupree. Both receivers have the ability to push deep and try to create big plays down the field. However it will lay on QB Danny Etling to deliver the ball where the receivers can make plays, something Brandon Harris couldn’t do last year. Alabama has a talented secondary lead by Marlon Humphrey (top cornerbacks in this class) and sophomore Minkah Fitzpatrick (not draft eligble) to match up with Dupree and Dural but with free safety Eddie Jackson out (broken leg) it could leave the Crimson Tide vulnerable on deep passes.

When Alabama Has the Ball

 

Alabama Prospects

#88 TE OJ Howard

#74 LT Cam Robinson

#50 RG Alphonse Taylor

LSU Prospects

#92 DE Lewis Neal

#57 DE Davon Godchaux

#52 ILB Kendell Beckwith

#18 CB Tre’Davious White

#33 SS Jamal Adams

Much like Alabama, the LSU Tigers have the 5th ranked scoring defense only allowing 15 points per game. The hiring of Defensive Coordinator Dave Aranda has taken a loaded roster and schemed it up to make them lethal. Despite all that talent they’ll have their hands full with a young but explosive offense lead by Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin who is regarded as one of the best player callers in college football. Kiffin is at his best designing plays to exploit defenses weaknesses, the problem is there isn’t much weakness in this Tiger unit.

Alabama wants to run the ball and they’ll do it with a three-headed rotation and with quarterback Jalen Hurts. To be successful the Alabama offensive line lead by LT Cam Robinson and RG Alphonse Taylor to open up holes, but they’ll be challenged by defensive ends Lewis Neal and Davon Godchaux. Both players have transitioned well to Aranda’s 3-4 defense. While Neal mainly lines up at the 5 technique and Godchaux is more of a tackle lining up against guards both players utilize their quickness and explosion to create penetration and help blow up the run game. It will be on the Alabama lineman to seal off move the defenders to open up holes and get their backs up field.

Despite having a true freshman quarterback in Jalen Hurts the Crimson Tide are still aggressive in the passing game. Their top two targets are sophomore receiver Calvin Ridley (not draft eligible) and tight end OJ Howard. LSU has two top prospects that will see plenty of time on each of the Bama weapons. Cornerback Tre’Davious White was considered a possible first round pick last year but returned to school and has elevated his game even further. White isn’t the biggest cornerback but has good quickness and fluid hips to turn and run with receivers. White plays both outside and in the slot, so don’t be shocked to see him follow Ridley around the field. Ridley is used a lot on deep routes so we could get a good look at White’s long speed. While tight end OJ Howard isn’t seeing a bunch of target each game the Crimson Tide will use him in a variety of ways and he has the chance to break out in every game. Likely handling him falls on strong safety Jamal Adams. Adams is a top ten prospect that has even been getting some Eric Berry comparisons. Adams is more of a run defender, which works because OJ Howard is used as a blocker frequently. But it’s when Howard releases into coverage that will get our attention. This match up should show us how well Adams plays in coverage and if he can lock down a talented tight end, that should only solidify his stock.

 

All in all this should be a fun game to watch to help decide the SEC West and possibly the college football playoff. Both teams should have multiple first round picks and they both could challenge Ohio State for the most players drafted in the first three rounds. As for the game, my prediction is that it will be a close back and forth game till Alabama makes a big play on defense and pulls away late.

Alabama 31 LSU 17

 

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