A fast start

The outcome of Saturday's battle between LSU and Alabama could hinge on what team gets points on the board first. Alabama has scored first in eight of their nine contests, while the Tigers have fallen behind big in both of their losses.

In the past, Nick Saban coached teams often found themselves out of the gates quickly, finding their stride early and often.

 

No. 1 Alabama defines Saban's philosophy of getting out early, and in a big way.

 

"We make it a point to try and jump on the other team early and never let up," said Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson.

 

So far this season, starting fast has not been a problem for the Crimson Tide.

 

The average time of possession for the Tide on their first possession has been just short of 5 ½ minutes.

 

When Alabama traveled to Athens to take on the top-ranked Bulldogs, the Tide took the game-opening drive 80 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown and never looked back, building a 31-0 lead on the way to a stunning 41-30 win.

 

The Tide scored on their first possession in Fayetteville as well, driving 71 yards on 10 plays en route to opening the scoring up against the Razorbacks.

 

Against the Volunteers in Knoxville, the offense totaled 11 plays and 50 yards on the opening drive before settling for a field goal.

 

Of course, getting out to an early lead is a two part plan. And for the Tide, the defense has yet to disappoint.

 

On the road, the Tide have only allowed 13 points in the first half, coming by way of one touchdown and a pair of field goals.

 

The Tigers, however, have not been singing to the same delightful tune.

 

LSU has trailed at halftime in all four of its major Southeastern Conference games; with fourth quarter touchdown drives needed late in the game to secure wins at South Carolina and Auburn.

 

The questions begin at quarterback, where redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee has thrown ten interceptions in six games played. Even harder to swallow, Lee has had five of the interceptions returned for touchdowns.

 

Since 2005, the record for interceptions returned for a touchdown in a career is held by former Utah State quarterback Leon Jackson III, who had seven of his 17 career interceptions returned for a touchdown.

 

Lee, who is just two short of tying the mark, has thrown the ball 421 times less than Jackson.

 

Interceptions at Florida and against Georgia that were returned for seven points put the Tigers into holes that they could not climb out of, perhaps the most devastating coming 20 seconds into the game against the Bulldogs.

 

Senior center Brett Helms has been around the SEC long enough to know that getting behind early in the game is not an option.

 

"We got to come out and start strong," Helms said. "We can't fall behind. When you fall behind you get out of your gameplan and get out of your rhythm when you have to start throwing the ball more and trying to score. So you have to start fast.

 

"We need to come out and get into a rhythm and cut the mistakes to a minimum," Helms added. "We've been killing ourselves and we have to stop doing that. That's really putting us in a hole and putting us in predictable passing situations so we have to go out and set an early tempo and just go from there."

 

Defensively, the Tigers know that putting a stop to the Tide from the blow of the first whistle is imperative.

 

Senior defensive lineman Kirston Pittman, who played for both Les Miles and Saban, says that the team knows exactly what is in store for them come Saturday.

 

"You got the No. 1 team in the country coming into your hometown, coming into our stadium, coming into Death Valley," Pittman said. "That's one thing we have to our advantage. We know they're going to bring their A-game and we know they're a great ballclub. Trust me, we're taking everything into account and we're going to feed off of it also."


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