LSU vs. Alabama: 10 Things We Learned in Tigers' Loss
The LSU Tigers are indeed inferior to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
In Alabama's 38-17 victory over the Tigers, LSU fans witnessed their favorite program take a giant step backward in the realm of SEC dominance.
The Tide imposed their will in the second half, and without defensive athletes capable of stopping the bleeding, the Tigers were rolled by Alabama.
As a result, Alabama continues on its path toward being a dynasty, while LSU now battles for a January bowl. Here are 10 things we learned in the SEC West showdown.
Tigers Not Physical Enough to Beat Alabama in the Trenches
With pride and respect on the line, LSU was going to challenge Alabama on the line of scrimmage.
For three quarters, the Tigers proved to be a worthy adversary. LSU held its ground and even outgained Alabama in the first half.
However, as the game continued, Alabama's offensive line started to wear down LSU's defensive front. A loss to Alabama quickly became inevitable.
Alabama's offensive line, which looked like a disaster in Week 1, muscled around the Tigers in the critical moments of the game.
Zach Mettenberger Has Matured
Cool. Calm. Collected. Zach Mettenberger is no longer defined by his sophomoric demeanor.
At times this season, it was hard to tell where Mettenberger's head was at. For instance, his sleepwalking, interception-filled performances in games against Furman and Ole Miss left fans scratching their heads.
When the lights are shining bright, though, he doesn't tense up. He plays loose, which allows the Tigers offense to move the football against elite defenses.
Mettenberger finished the game with 241 passing yards and a touchdown. Even when everything crumbled around him and he was injured in the final offensive play of the game, Mettenberger picked himself off of the ground and walked off of the field with honor. Even in defeat, Tiger fans can appreciate the effort he gave.
Tigers Offensive Line Second Rate to 'Bama's
Vadal Alexander stalled drives against Alabama.
His failure to make adjustments on the line (picking up a blitzing Trey DePriest) and whiffs in the rushing game (completely missing C.J. Mosley on a "dive") handicapped LSU in the first half.
Alexander wasn't alone in the second half, though. His peers on the offensive line played just as bad if not worse in the final two quarters.
From La'el Collins to Jerald Hawkins, every offensive lineman lost a battle against one of the best defenses in college football. The Tigers were simply outmatched upfront.
Tigers Couldn't Exploit Beckham and Landry Matchups
Most teams can't handle Odell Beckham or Jarvis Landry on the outside.
Surely, the two-time defending national champions could, right? Not so fast my friend.
Even the Tide struggled on the outside against these two future receivers. When Mettenberger had time and drives overcame mental mistakes (false starts and delay of games), Beckham and Landry won matchups on the outside and provided huge gains for the Tigers. The Tide clamped down late, though.
Landry recorded 90 yards against Alabama, while Beckham finished the game with only 42 receiving yards. With pressure and stifling coverage on the outside, the Crimson Tide negated the Tigers' strength.
Tigers Can't Overcome Turnovers
Some teams are good enough to win despite turning the ball over. In 2013, LSU is not.
It didn't help the Tigers were going against the Crimson Tide either.
LSU had the opportunity to strike first blood but failed to do so when J.C. Copeland fumbled the football just before crossing the goal line. The Tide kicked a field goal on the ensuing drive.
Later in the first half, Elliot Porter snapped the ball when Mettenberger approached the line to make changes, creating another scoring opportunity and 17-point swing for Alabama.
Even with Solid Coaching, the Tigers Were Manhandled by 'Bama
This slide is going to be the toughest for LSU fans to swallow.
When things tend to go sour, Les Miles becomes the scapegoat. He's the reason the Tigers lost, and that reason provides an escape from reality for some fans.
Well, that excuse isn't viable after this loss.
Miles did not blow any calls, and quite frankly, the offensive play-calling was on point. The Tigers just did not execute, as Alabama had the better athletes.
Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson Have Heart
Football is a game won in the trenches.
Because of this, Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson gave LSU a fighting chance early. You might've been wondering how LSU's lukewarm defense was able to slow down Alabama in the first half.
Look no further than the middle of LSU's defense. On every play present, Johnson and Ferguson fired off of the football and greeted Alabama's interior offensive linemen with a bull rush.
Though the Tigers linebackers and defensive ends caved around them, Ferguson and Johnson fought until the very end.
Jeremy Hill Could Not Repeat Last Year's Performance
Jeremy Hill produced 107 rushing yards against Alabama last season. Against them this season, he managed to churn out 42.
Hill, who is arguably the Tigers' best player, was virtually a nonfactor against Alabama.
In fact, it was Terrence Magee who had more of an impact in the rushing game early on. As Hill got more carries, he showed a few glimpses of his greatness, but he was contained all night long.
Alabama was able to keep Hill from busting loose, while containing Landry and Beckham on the perimeter. Not an easy feat.
Tide Are No. 1
Alabama is simply better. It's a brutal reality, Tigers fans.
Right now, LSU is nowhere near the Crimson Tide.
Alabama is rolling with back-to-back national championship wins, and the Tide are chasing another. Judging by Saturday night's performance, the Tide will likely get that third championship.
Meanwhile, Louisiana recruits are being swayed to join Alabama, hoping to become apart of Nick Saban's dynasty. Tigers fans now hope LSU's next recruiting class can help level the playing field.
The Defense Needs a 2014 Makeover
Inexperience is not why this LSU defense fails.
It's the lack of playmakers, lack of discipline and lack of attitude that found the Tigers giving up 38 points to Alabama.
LSU has to hit the recruiting trail hard, because this defense needs some Tyrann Mathieus, Eric Reids and Barkevious Mingos.
Freshmen who are ready to step in and make an impact in 2014 are needed, and a little Honey-Badger-swagger wouldn't hurt either. If the Tigers fail to bring in some instant game changers, LSU will give up multiple yards and points again, despite a year gained by young players.