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From the Bird’s Nest: Total. Complete. Domination

Andy Lyons/Getty Images Sport

If it was a fight, they would have stopped it a lot earlier.

Alabama’s 21-0 thrashing of LSU in the BCS Championship Game Monday night was as dominating a performance as you’ll ever see in college football.

This wasn’t Kent State or North Texas the Tide was playing.  This was LSU.  Undefeated LSU.  Number one LSU.

And the Tigers were never, repeat, never in the game.

On Monday’s Bird’s Eye View, I predicted LSU would win.  I based it on three things:  LSU protects the football.  LSU gets turnovers.  LSU dominates the kicking game.  It’s what the Tigers have done all year.  Notice I didn’t say anything about LSU’s quarterback situation.  It’s had little to do with the Tigers’ success this year.  The best thing about LSU at quarterback with Jordan Jefferson is the Tigers don’t turn it over.

But they did last night.

No, LSU’s dominance this season can be attributed to a solid running game, a defense that not only stops you but helps the offense with field position by forcing turnovers, and a kicking game that beats you in every phase:  punting, place kicking, kick coverage, punt coverage, kickoff returns and punt returns.

And LSU did none of the above last night.  None of the above.

I wasn’t surprised LSU’s offense struggled.  They struggled the last time the two teams played.  You may remember, in that game, LSU had exactly one drive that produced points.  They scored three after a turnover and three in overtime when they started in field goal range.  LSU was going to struggle offensively.  No shock there.

Please, please, please spare me the Jarret Lee talk.  Les Miles did Lee a favor by not playing him.  If you thought Jefferson struggled (and certainly, he did), imagine having an immobile statue back there for Alabama to tee off on.

No, LSU’s struggles on offense started up front.  LSU’s offensive line was manhandled on nearly every play.  Alabama’s defense blew up LSU’s running game.  They blew up LSU’s option game.  And, when Jefferson completed a couple of bubble screens early, LSU’s wide receivers were so inept trying to block that the receivers never had a chance to get yards after the catch.

My criticism of LSU’s offensive philosophy stems from the Tigers’ stubbornness in keeping Jefferson in the pocket.  You didn’t see Jefferson roll out with a moving pocket and buy a little time to survey the situation and perhaps find someone open downfield.  That’s on the offensive staff.

There will be some who praise LSU’s defense, when, in reality, it might have been the Tigers’ worst performance of the year on that side of the ball.  LSU, which prides itself in winning the field position battle and getting turnovers, got nothing.  And the main reason for that was they allowed Alabama to, at worst, flip field position on every possession.

In the first half, Alabama had drives of 36, 20 (after the Maze punt return), 64, 58 and 52 yards.  The second half was more of the same.  50, 27, 4 (after the interception), 20,  and 50 (after the fumble).  Only once did LSU get a three-and-out on defense, when they held the Tide on a drive that started on the Alabama 17.  But a 52 yard punt put LSU back at its own 35.

It was the Tigers’ best field position of the night.  Every other time LSU had the football it was between the 20 and the 28.  LSU’s offense simply wasn’t going to drive the football that far on Alabama’s defense.  And, that’s on the LSU defense for not getting stops.  Making someone kick field goals after they’ve driven 50 yards is not a victory for the defense.

So thorough was Alabama’s domination they won the battle no one figured they could win:  the kicking game.  LSU had allowed six yards on punt returns all season.  Alabama had 67.  LSU had exactly one yard on punt returns all night.  They averaged just 20 yards per kickoff return.  Alabama had 32 yards on their only return of the night.  Even Brad Wing only averaged one yard per kick more than the two punters Alabama used.

Dominated in the kicking game.  No one saw that coming.

Beaten.  In every facet of the game.

The Tigers got sat on by an elephant.

Hit by a Mack Truck.

And they were powerless to stop it.

When you get thrashed that convincingly there’s only one thing to do.

Admit the other team was better.

Embrace the successes you had during the season.

And hope you never have a night like that again.

 

 

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