Bama scheming to stop LSU

Faced with stopping a high-powered LSU offense, the Tide coaches have been careful not to provide any quotes for the enemy's locker-room wall. To hear them tell it, the Bengal Tigers sport NFL talent at virtually every position, leaving fans to wonder how Alabama could possibly hope to be successful on defense. "We've had some thoughts on the subject," Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione said with a chuckle.

As Franchione indicates, there is no such thing as an unstoppable offense. But there is no doubt that LSU quarterback Rohan Davey is a unique talent. Franchione explained; "I think the biggest thing is you've got to put some pressure on Rohan--and that doesn't necessarily always mean sacking him. Get him to throw out of rhythm. Get him to have to move in the pocket. Because of the strength of his arm, he is a very good off-balance passer.

"Ole Miss was able to get him a little out of kilter at times. When he has time to stand in there, set his feet and throw the ball, he's pretty good. The scary thing about him is you can never come out of coverage. Ole Miss had him about sacked a couple of times, but he's just so strong that as he spins around he can throw it 30 yards."

Alabama, 3-4 overall and 2-3 in Southeastern Conference games, returns to action Saturday in a Homecoming game against LSU. Kickoff will be shortly after 2:30 p.m. CST with television coverage by CBS. While Alabama had an open date last weekend, LSU lost to Mississippi, 35-24, and fell to 4-3 overall, and also 2-3 in SEC games.

Besides containing the dangerous Davey, an often shaky Tide secondary will be tested by the SEC's leading receiver who averages almost 120 yards per game. "The key is to not let Josh Reed have 180 or 200 yards on you," Franchione said. "When you throw enough balls to somebody, then they're going to get some yards. Ole Miss had him fairly well contained, and I don't know if they did anything special other than getting him a little out of rhythm. And they got some pressure on Rohan at the right times."

But just containing Reed isn't enough, because at the other receiver slot super-frosh Michael Clayton is also special. Franchione explained; "It's hard to put a lot of focus on Reed, because of Clayton and his ability. Clayton makes a couple of big plays every game. The catch he made in the endzone against Ole Miss was tremendous."

The open date last Saturday afforded time for the Tide players to rest up and heal. However it also broke the squad's normal routine. But the schedule was back to normal this week. "Today was fine," said Franchione, speaking following Wednesday's practice. "It was a short, crisp practice. We made some mistakes offensively that we need to clean up, but it was good. The players worked hard."

The Bama offense is preparing for a typically talented LSU ‘D,' led by two outstanding linebackers in Trev Faulk and Bradie James. "They are good players," Franchione agreed. "Those guys are probably the strength of their defense most weeks. LSU's entire front seven is real solid. But the linebackers are good run-support guys, good run-defense guys. Faulk is a good player. He can make plays sideline to sideline."

Heading into Saturday's game, it's possible that Alabama will be without the services of its best defensive lineman. End Kindal Moorehead is nursing a sprained knee ligament, and the Tide coaches are still considering how to juggle their personnel. "We'll talk more about that this week," Franchione said. "Right now I couldn't give you a final answer about that--not and be completely right."

Moorehead's injury will not require surgery, but backup linebacker Jason Rawls is out for the year with a torn ACL. His loss will juggle the playing rotation, requiring seniors Victor Ellis and Adam Cox to step up their production. Franchione explained; "Right now with Victor and Adam we have enough depth. We've got enough people rotating that are able to play two positions, that we feel like we can get through the next four (games)."

Contributions from Cox and Ellis will be key for Alabama down the stretch, because the Tide coaches really do not want to play true freshman Freddie Roach this late in the season. "We're going to do our best to hold Freddie," Franchione said. "That's what our decision has been. We've vacillated back and forth some. There's not a right or wrong answer necessarily. Except that if we need him to play to have the best chance to win, then that's what we need to do. He understands that, but if we can stay healthy then we'll be OK."


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