Alabama vs. LSU Review: How the Bama Offense Cost the Tide a Title Shot
LSU beat Alabama 9-6 in overtime on Saturday and put a dent in Alabama's aspirations to win championships in 2011.
Many fans and media will blame the Alabama field goal unit, and that could be somewhat fair, but isn't the whole story.
Alabama wouldn't have had to kick so may field goals if they had of executed on offense more consistently on Saturday night.
Although it was against a very tough and fast LSU defense, Alabama expected the offense to perform better than that.
Instead, it was a disjointed and disappointing offensive effort for the Crimson and White.
It was such a poor performance that I believe it cost them a shot to get a rematch with LSU in the national championship game, even if both teams win out.
The Alabama defense was solid and put together another impressive performance this weekend. The Tide defense played well enough to win, if the offense had done their part.
Click through the slide show to see five ways the Alabama offense underachieved.
Running Game Held in Check
Before the game, many people were talking about how a big performance in this game could vault Alabama running back Trent Richardson into the sure lead for the Heisman Trophy.
After the game, in regards to Heisman Trophy projections, he is on the outside looking in.
He may still make the trip to New York for the ceremony. He is a very talented back, but it will be tough to overcome a perfoamce against LSU on the national stage that included a low 3.9 yards per carry average and no touchdowns.
One question may be why the coaches didn't feed the ball to Richardson more often. In a close, hard-fought game, it seems that your best player should have more than 23 carries.
Back-up Eddie Lacy didn't have a big day, either, averaging even less yards per carry as Richardson, with 3.8 yards per rush in the game.
Combined, the Crimson Tide running game totaled just 99 yards on the night. That is a surprising stats for a team that had been running for well over 200 yards per contest.
Also worth noting is the fact that Florida and Tennessee ran for more yards this season against LSU than the Tide.
Inconsistent QB Play and Costly Interceptions
It wasn't a good game for Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron.
He made a few nice throws and found running back Trent Richardson for some short passes and nice gains out of the backfield.
The Tide ended up with a respectable 199 passing yards.
However, considering Oregon threw for 240, West Virginia threw for 481 and Auburn's backup QB passed for 161 against LSU, 199 doesn't make much of a statement.
The vertical passing game was missing for the most part, and McCarron was slow to make decisions and never seemed comfortable in the pocket.
The Tide threw two costly interceptions, one by McCarron, and the other on wide receiver pass.
They failed to connect for a passing score and did not develop a deep threat in the game.
A lot of that had to do with the relentless LSU defensive pressure, but some of it was a young player in just his ninth start that seems confused in several key situations throughout the game.
McCarron did not look the part of a championship quarterback.
Questionable Calls from Coaches
There were several calls from the sidelines during Alabama's loss to LSU that were questionable at best.
Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Jim McElwain called for a bizarre trick play with 11 minutes left in the game that ended up with LSU safety Eric Reid intercepting a lobbed up pass from Alabama wide receiver Marquis Maze.
You have one of the best running backs in the nation and have had success with screen passes throughout the game and you call a wide receiver pass play?
Then, with over a minute left in the game, Saban elected to run out the clock and play for overtime.
Doesn't show much trust in your quarterback or offense to play for overtime in that situation. That is a good bit of time to let tick away.
Nick Saban is a top notch coach, but even he has to be questioned about some of these decisions.
Calls like these were confusing to me and could end up being a part of what keeps Bama out of Atlanta and the BCS National Championship game.
Poor Production from Wide Outs and Tight Ends
Alabama clearly misses wide receiver Julio Jones, now with the Atlanta Falcons after leaving Tuscaloosa after his junior year for the NFL.
His absence may literally be one of the main reasons Alabama misses out on a chance to play for titles in 2011.
In the loss to LSU, the wide outs and tight ends combined for just 11 receptions and only 108 yards. The other receiving yards went to running backs.
The longest gain on a pass play, not to Trent Richardson, was only 19 yards.
The starting wide outs have good hands but lack size, as Maze is just 5'10" and 180 pounds, and Darius Hanks is only 6'1" and 185 pounds. Tough to be a red-zone threat at that size in the SEC.
The lack of big plays from the wide outs and receivers really hurt Alabama on Saturday night and could be a problem in other big games coming up this season.
You can break down a college football game is many different ways.
You can analyze an offense with tons of different criteria.
However, it really comes down to points.
The reality for the Alabama offense against LSU is that they moved the ball into LSU territory over and over and kept leaving with either three points or no points at all.
Even though the LSU defense is very good, you can't win against tough SEC opponents if you don't get the ball in the end zone.
Alabama joins Mississippi State and Northwestern State as the only three teams out of nine to not score at least one touchdown on the LSU defense.
Oregon scored 27 on LSU, and West Virginia scored 21 against the Tigers.
These type of comparisons will not help when voters start looking at who should be ranked atop the polls, which will help determine who will play for the national championship.
The Alabama defense is championship caliber, and they are one of the best teams in the country because of that dominant unit.
However, a less-than-impressive offensive showing on Saturday could ultimately lead Alabama to the BCS Sugar Bowl to play Boise State and not to a rematch against LSU for the title (if the Bengal Tigers remain undefetaed themselves).