Do Alabama and LSU Have Any Big Weaknesses Coaches Can Exploit?

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 17, 2012

LSU QB Zach Mettenberger
LSU QB Zach MettenbergerDerick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

It's like 2011 all over again.

Alabama and LSU find themselves as the two best teams in the country after previous No. 2 USC was shocked by Stanford 21-14 on Saturday night in Stanford, Calif.

The two SEC juggernauts look like they're on a collision course for a November 3 showdown in Baton Rouge, La., with a trip to Atlanta to play for the SEC Championship on the line.

Now that we have three games this season to judge from, do either of these two teams have any weaknesses that opposing coaches can exploit?


In fact, they both have improved tremendously from their stellar 2011 seasons.

LSU's secondary had to replace a first-round draft pick, third-round draft pick, fourth-round draft pick and a Heisman finalist from last season. That secondary was a point of contention in the season opener against North Texas. The Tigers secondary was inconsistent at times against the Mean Green, which translated to two touchdowns. 

They responded with a resounding 41-3 trouncing of the Washington Huskies and their potent passing attack. Jalen Mills, who stepped in for the recently-departed Tyrann Mathieu, earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors in the process.

Not bad, to say the least.

The biggest question facing the Tigers was at quarterback, where Zach Mettenberger stepped in for the combination of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. Mettenberger hasn't been great this season—48-of-66 for 609 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions—but he hasn't been asked to be great yet, thanks to three straight blowouts.

That likely won't change this week vs. Auburn or next week vs. Towson, so consider Mettenberger to stay somewhat of a mystery until the Tigers travel to Florida on Oct. 6.

That doesn't mean he's a weakness; it just means that he's the only piece to the LSU puzzle that remains relatively unknown.

For Alabama, it's more of the same.

The Crimson Tide haven't missed a beat from last season despite replacing six starters on defense, their top two wide receivers and a Heisman finalist at running back.

Alabama's field-goal kickers cost the Tide a win last November against LSU, but so far this season, the combination of Jeremy Shelley and Cade Foster is 3-of-5 on field goals, with those two misses being by Foster from 50 or more yards out. Foster has also made two field goals of 50-plus.

If Alabama starts kicking 50-plus field goals, the rest of college football might as well just go home.

The defense has only given up 210 yards per game. Granted, Western Kentucky and Arkansas provided little challenge, but don't discount how difficult it was for the Crimson Tide to shut down Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in the opener. They have shut out three of their last four opponents, including two SEC foes.

No drop-off whatsoever.

The idea that these two teams could meet in this year's BCS National Championship Game is far-fetched at this point, but there's little doubt that they are the two best teams in the country.

I hate the cliche that teams "don't rebuild, they reload." But that's exactly what LSU and Alabama have done.