Knockout Punch Eludes Bama

After three straight Southeastern Conference games of taking the opponents best shot before coming up with one or two big plays to deliver the knockout blow, Alabama's rope-a-dope strategy faltered Saturday in the 16-13 overtime loss to No. 5 LSU.

"They punched in the second half and we didn't counterpunch," Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle said. "We never even got relatively close."

Alabama's senior signal caller finished the game 19-of-40 passing for 187 yards, 115 of which came in the first half of play. LSU literally had Croyle on the run in the third quarter, sacking him three times while Croyle was able to scramble for a gain a fourth time.

Alabama's first offensive play of the third quarter was a fumbled center-snap exchange between Croyle and Taylor Britt, starting in place of injured JB Closner.

"In the third quarter we were only able to get one pass off," Croyle said. "They were getting pressure and we were running around the field getting sacked. You've got to tip your hat to them. They turned it up and we didn't."

"We didn't get that many chances in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter we were backed up and couldn't move it. It's a tough pill to swallow."

In overtime, Bama tried a pass on third-and-two, flooding the left side with Nick Walker, Keith Brown and Le'Ron McClain, but all three were covered. Croyle scrambled, improvised and threw to Kenneth Darby, who couldn't come up with the catch on the right sideline that would have given Alabama a first down.

"It was a flare pass and the first guy was double covered, the second guy was blanketed and the third guy (Keith Brown) was double covered. It was only a three man route so I ran around and tried to make something happen," Croyle said.

LSU got burned with the blitz some in the first half and was able to get pressure using just the front four more in the second half.

"They really didn't blitz as much as they did in the first half," Croyle said. "We kind of got ‘em in the first half by checking out of some things against the blitz."

"We had it in front of us and we didn't capitalize," he said. "We lost the chance at what we were originally playing for. Maybe we can go 11-1, I don't know."

To have a chance to win a trip to the Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta, Alabama must beat Auburn next week and hope LSU loses to either Ole Miss or Arkansas in its remaining games. LSU controls its own destiny.

"I hope they do (lose), that's a no-brainer," Croyle said. "But that's a very talented football team we just played. They would have to play not their best football game and the other team would have to play good to do it."

Croyle said LSU's defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten were "better than Tennessee's... We tried to switch the cadence up on them and they wouldn't jump offsides."


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