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Alabama-LSU: 5 Things That Went Wrong for the Tide Against the Tigers

Trent CalvertCorrespondent INovember 8, 2010

Alabama-LSU: 5 Things That Went Wrong for the Tide Against the Tigers

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Nick Saban always talks about mental intensity and playing ball for all 60 minutes.

    Why, then, has Alabama gone 200 percent for one half of a game and 50 percent for the other so many times this year?

    For the majority of the season, the first half has been the worst. In the first half against USC, the Tide put themselves in a hole they could not dig out of, and a poor first half against Arkansas nearly cost 'Bama that game as well.

    Against LSU, 'Bama outplayed and outgained the Tigers, but at halftime the score was only 7-3 'Bama. The failure to capitalize in the first half came back to bite them as LSU won the game by a field goal.

Poor Offensive Line Play

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Blame Greg McElroy all you want. Blame Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson for not being as dynamic as they were last year. Fact is, a normally dependable Alabama O-line has been shredded at times this season.

    In Alabama's loss to South Carolina, the Gamecocks were consistently wreaking havoc in Alabama's backfield, which in my opinion was the game's deciding factor.

    The Tide returns three of five offensive linemen from last year's outstanding squad. The two linemen Alabama lost were Mike Johnson, an All-American right tackle, and Drew Davis, who could shut down any edge rusher in the SEC.

    'Bama replaced Davis and Johnson with D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack, respectively. Warmack has held up fairly well, but Fluker sustained a groin injury and has been out since the second half of the South Carolina game. Alfred McCullough has taken Fluker's spot in the lineup.

    William Vlachos is undersized for a center but plays with great technique. However, he was run over at times by monstrous LSU tackle Drake Nevis, who forced a game-winning fumble off McElroy.

    Overall, the O-line has not done a good job of opening holes for 'Bama's runners and has let McElroy take way too many hits.

Busted Assignments by Defensive Backs

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    This one's been a killer. The DB unit has only one veteran, and it shows.

    At cornerback, freshman DeMarcus Milliner and sophomore Dre Kirkpatrick top the depth chart. Both have flashed potential, and both have made costly mistakes.

    Against LSU, Milliner lost track of the man he was covering, Rueben Randle, and Randle made a 47-yard catch on 3rd-and-long that twisted the knife for Alabama.

    Safety Robert Lester has been a pleasant surprise at a thin position for 'Bama, intercepting five passes. He has managed to avoid making many rookie mistakes so far, and the only knock on his game is that he has missed tackles frequently. He is improving, however.

    Phelon Jones, a transfer from LSU, has played well. Expect to see more from him in the future.

    Alabama came into the season with a talented but very inexperienced secondary, and the losses of great corners Javier Arenas and Kareem Jackson have been felt.

Lack of Help on Special Teams

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Everyone knew Alabama would miss Javier Arenas' dangerous kick return abilities. A player with the electrifying return capabilities of Arenas is rare. But there is no excuse for the all-around poor play of the Tide's special teams this year.

    While the field goal and kickoff duties have been handled fairly well by Jeremy Shelley and Cade Foster, punter Cody Mandell has been subpar, so expect him to be challenged next spring by Jay Williams.

    Kickoff coverage has been slack this year, with missed tackles being a nagging issue.

    Julio Jones and Trent Richardson usually return kicks but have been unspectacular. Marquis Maze has blazing speed and has been a bright spot on a ho-hum unit for Alabama.

No Big Plays

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    If you want to win big games in the SEC, you have to make big plays. Saturday that wasn't happening for Alabama, whose longest offensive play went for 22 yards. As linebacker Courtney Upshaw noted, the Tide just wasn't executing.

    The Tide has arguably the best receiver in the nation, Julio Jones, and they should take some deep shots to him.

    As the Tide offense grew stagnant in the second half, LSU made one big play after another, including a 75-yard touchdown strike.

    To top it off, the defense didn't force a single turnover, which is unacceptable. The DBs fumbled away at least two would-be interceptions.

A Tale of Two Halves

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Nick Saban always talks about mental intensity and playing ball for all 60 minutes.

    Why, then, has Alabama gone 200 percent for one half of a game and 50 percent for the other so many times this year?

    For the majority of the season, the first half has been the worst. In the first half against USC, the Tide put themselves in a hole they could not dig out of, and a poor first half against Arkansas nearly cost 'Bama that game as well.

    Against LSU, 'Bama outplayed and outgained the Tigers, but at halftime the score was only 7-3 'Bama. The failure to capitalize in the first half came back to bite them as LSU won the game by a field goal.

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