Tide Preparation Normal Says Lester

Back when Roy Kramer was pulling the Southeastern Conference strings, and continuing into the early years of the Mike Slive leadership of the SEC, it was not uncommon for several conference opponents to have open dates before playing Alabama. This year, that advantage fell to only one SEC team.

Alabama goes to Baton Rouge Saturday for what will be the first game LSU has played in two weeks. Prior to the start of the season this was considered to be the biggest regular season game of 2012. That's because last year the teams met twice as the nation's best teams, and both are considered contenders for this year's national championship.

Kickoff Saturday will be at 7 p.m. CDT with television coverage by CBS. Alabama, which lost last year's regular season game in overtime to LSU, but defeated the Fighting Tigers in the national championship game a couple of months later, is 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the SEC and ranked number one in the nation. LSU is 7-1 overall and 3-1 in SEC games (a road loss to Florida) and ranked fifth in the nation.

LSU has the nation's longest home field winning streak, 22 games.

Last year, both the Crimson Tide and LSU had a bye week before playing. This year Bama is coming off a 38-7 win over Mississippi State.

Veteran Alabama safety Robert Lester doesn't know if a bye week is an advantage, but said, "We're going to go into this game and prepare for this game just like we would any other."

Lester also pointed out that, "I think we played an excellent defensive game last year (in the regular season meeting)." LSU won that game, 9-6, in overtime. It goes without saying that Bama's defense was excellent in the BCS National Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. The Tide was a 21-0 winner over the Tigers with LSU spending about a minute of total offensive playing time in Bama territory.

Lester, a three-year starter at safety, said LSU's regular season win in 2011 was the result of "We had a couple of things that didn't go our way."

The 6-2, 210-pound Foley native said that emotion won't help win the game. In fact, he said, "You can't let your emotions take over the game because you'll make a lot of emotional mistakes. Personally, I'm going to play as I always do, which is relaxed, and make sure I execute what I need to execute and make sure I keep the younger guys under control and that they don't go out their too emotional and make emotional mistakes."

Lester can relate to playing in a game like this as a younger man. "I think it's very difficult," he said. "I was real emotional in 2010 when I got there, and (former Tide safety) Mark Barron, one of the more experienced guys, took me under wraps and told me ‘Hey, just go out there and play football.'"

And Lester, who was redshirted in 2008, was in his third season at Alabama.

"But I had never been in a place like that," he said. "The fans are loud and it's hard to focus and do what you need to do, but Mark told me to just go play football, and that's exactly what I'm going to try to do."

Lester, who has made interceptions in the end zone the last two games, said communications can be difficult because of the noise.

"The fans are into it as much as the players," he said. "You have to tune it out as much as you can. You have to let the younger guys k,now that it can't play a big factor in the game, throw you out of your game."

Lester said that teams like LSU who are regular opponents of the Tide are easier to know. "They tend to run the same type of things and it's easier to game plan than it is when playing teams like Texas A&M and Missouri that you haven't seen before," he said."We know they are going to run the ball and take shots down the field. As long as we're prepared for it and we know at least something that is coming, I think we'll be good."

Lester said he is preparing for this game like he would any other. But he also acknowledged, "This is a huge game. I know that it's going to be a great game. They are going to play hard, we're going to play hard, and the best team is going to win. It's a great challenge for us. It's LSU and Alabama and it doesn't get any better than that. I'm just as ready for this game as I was for the first game. I'm ready to play."

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