How Does LSU See Tide Game?

Editor's Note: An advantage in being a part of the Scout.com network is the cross-current of information available. This week the Alabama and LSU football teams expect fierce competition. Meanwhile, the publishers of the LSU site, Sonny Shipp of TigerSportsDigest.com, and Kirk McNair of BamaMag.com, are handling questions from fans of opposing sites.



Alabama fans can find McNair's response to Tigers' fans at TigerSportsDigest.com. Here are Shipp's replies to Crimson Tide fans about LSU.

BamaMag.com Posters: Two years ago LSU punted to Javier Arenas, who returned it for a touchdown. Most teams don't punt to Arenas. Will LSU?

TSD Publisher: It amazes me that teams continue to kick to Arenas and special teams could play a huge role in the outcome on Saturday. LSU is second in the SEC with only 30 yards given up on punt returns and credit goes to the speed on the return team as well as the hang time that LSU punter Derek Helton gets. However, Helton missed last week's game and his replacement didn't fare too well. LSU needs Helton on Saturday and if he can't go then Josh Jasper may take on the punting duties to go along with his kicking responsibilities. Either way, LSU can't allow Arenas to break one because the Tiger defense can't allow the Crimson Tide to play with a short field.

BamaMag.com Posters: Jordan Jefferson has shown great improvement beginning with the Auburn game. What turned him on, and what are his greatest positive and greatest negative as a quarterback?

TSD Publisher: The bye week after Florida and before Auburn did Jefferson well and it may have had more of an impact off the field than on it. The coaches really stressed throwing the ball down the field more and Jefferson looks as if he isn't so worried about making some mistakes compared to before when he was more hesitant.

His best attributes are his arm strength and making plays with his feet when he gets on the edge. On the flip side, though, he doesn't have very good pocket awareness right now which leads to him holding onto the ball too long at times. He hasn't shown consistency with stepping up in the pocket either which could be big on Saturday because you know Nick Saban is going to bring pressure off the edge.

BamaMag.com Posters: Sophomore Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones has not had a good year, and Tennessee covered him one-on-one. Most teams double cover him. What is LSU's normal strategy against a top receiver and will that be the plan against Jones?

TSD Publisher: One of the best one-on-one matchups is going to be when Patrick Peterson is matched up against Julio Jones. Peterson is physical and is as good of a cover corner as there is in the SEC. The two probably will not be matched up all game, though, so Jones against Chris Hawkins or Jai Eugene is a matchup that favors Bama. LSU will probably use the standard safety over the top to try and neutralize Jones which could open things up in the middle for Colin Peek and Mark Ingram matched up against LSU's linebackers.

BamaMag.com Posters: If you had to pick out a potential star for LSU in this game would it be Charles Scott, Terrance Tolliver, Brandon LaFell, Jordan Jefferson, or someone else?

TSD Publisher: Charles Scott is coming off his biggest game of the year against Tulane with a two touchdown, 112-yard effort but running for that against the Bama defense will be a tall order. LSU ran for more yards than anyone else against the Tide last year with 201 yards and Scott had 92 and two scores. But LSU's offensive line was much better than this unit is which will make running through the teeth of that Bama "D" much harder.

LSU will need a big game from Jordan Jefferson but if LSU is going to win then someone else will need to step up and make some plays. Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver are going to be blanketed which could open something up for Rueben Randle or possibly even Richard Dickson. Trindon Holliday is another game-changer on special teams and Russell Shepard has broken a big play in each of the last two games. If I had to pick one person, though, I'd go with Holliday or Shepard because their speed and big-play ability could swing the momentum in LSU's favor if the game is tight.

BamaMag.com Posters: We consider Charles Scott to be a great running back, but it looks like Russell Shepard is a great running threat. Is Shepard on the verge of getting about 50 percent of the carries?

TSD Publisher: Shepard isn't ready to handle half of the load at running back and particularly against a team as strong in the front seven as Alabama is. Shepard hasn't gotten too many opportunities outside of the tackles and that just isn't LSU's style right now so I expect you'll see more of Charles Scott than anyone else when LSU runs the ball.

BamaMag.com Posters: Most games are won in the trenches. Who has the advantage with Alabama offensive line vs. LSU defensive line and LSU offensive line vs. Alabama defensive line?

TSD Publisher: I'd give Alabama the edge on both sides of the ball in the trenches. LSU has struggled with establishing the run on offense and hasn't gotten a lot of pressure with just their front four. Bama averages 5.3 yards a carry and only gives up 2.2 on the other side of the ball, while LSU averages four yards a pop and gives up 3.2 yards a carry. The stats favor Alabama but their lines seem to be more physical on both fronts.

BamaMag.com Posters: Is this the type game LSU hopes it can win or thinks it will win?

TSD Publisher: The mood of the team is that they think they can win and they expect to win. This LSU team is a lot stronger mentally than the one you saw last year when Alabama eked out the win in overtime. The offense has more confidence than it has had all season and feels that it can move the ball on Alabama. But by no means should those statements be taken as a sense of being overconfident because the players know they haven't done enough against a quality opponent like Alabama to go into the game cocky.

BamaMag.com Posters: Does LSU think Alabama is vulnerable in any area and is there an area of concern for LSU about some Tigers' weakness?

TSD Publisher: The fronts on both sides of the ball are of concern and then there's that mode of thinking of will this be Julio Jones' breakout performance. More than that, though, stopping Mark Ingram should cause concern for any defensive coordinator or defensive player that goes up against Alabama.

If you look for an area that LSU may try to take advantage of then it's probably forcing Greg McElroy to beat them. He hasn't been as effective the last three games as he was earlier in the season and LSU's secondary may be the second best unit in the league behind Florida. McElroy having a great game and beating you is one thing, but to let Ingram run for 200 yards and two scores is a different matter.

BamaMag.com Posters: LSU fans surely know that Alabama didn't take Nick Saban from LSU. So why are LSU fans mad at Alabama?

TSD Publisher: The majority of the LSU fan base isn't mad at Alabama. There is a lot of anger by some of the fan base towards Saban for going to a division rival but it probably has more to do with the fact that he left LSU on Christmas day for Miami and returned to the college game two years later when he said he said he wasn't going to the NFL time and time again. You can't fault someone for making a career move or fulfilling a dream and I certainly don't.

Prior to Saban's move, LSU probably looked at Alabama the same way the Bama fan base looked at Tennessee. If Saban would leave Bama to try the NFL one more time and then two years later head over to Rocky Top there would probably be more than a few fans that would not take that too kindly. I guess that's how life is in the South where college football will always be king. But the Saban to Alabama deal has died down tremendously and it's nice to have a game that focuses on two good football teams as opposed to the guys roaming the sidelines.

BamaMag.com Posters: LSU has signed a number of good players from the state of Alabama in recent years. Phelon Jones transferred to Alabama. Any hard feelings?

TSD Publisher: There are no hard feelings over Phelon Jones going to Alabama by the overwhelming majority of the fan base. Sure, you have your few, but not many. Most look at it as LSU beat Alabama out for Jones during the recruiting battle and when he wasn't getting the playing time he thought he deserved he decided to go back home

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