Q&A: Bama Style

BamaMag.com Publisher Kirk McNair fields some questions on the Alabama Crimson Tide heading into Saturday's SEC Western Division showdown.

Note from BamaMag.com Publisher Kirk McNair

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this exercise. Your questions were excellent. Like most old Southerners, I grew up with a fondness for LSU football since it was the only game on radio (there were none on television) on many Saturday nights. It was my good fortune to get to know and become friends with many LSU athletics officials, including the great Paul Manasseh.


Before we get to the questions, I expect Saturday’s game to be one of the best of the season. Alabama and LSU are well-coached teams with many good athletes and plenty of motivation. No one asked, but whenever anyone asks me how I think Alabama will do in a game, I have a standard answer: “I always think Alabama is going to win, and I’m almost always right.”


On to the Q&A…….


TSD Subscribers: What seems to be a bigger concern going into Saturday’s tilt? Is it Greg McElroy's recent struggles or John Chavis' newfound defense?

BamaMag Publisher: As a rule, the worry is about that which one can control. By that standard, Alabama’s concern would be Crimson Tide quarterback Greg McElroy, who has been less effective in recent games than he was earlier in the season. A study of Alabama’s passing game struggles, though, shows that the primary problem has been inadequate protection of the quarterback. Therefore, the primary concern for Bama is probably working out a plan to combat the LSU defense.


Gameweek Links:
  • Halfway There
  • Breaking Down the Tide
  • TSD Television: Kelvin Sheppard
  • TSD Television: Chad Jones
  • TSD Television: Jordan Jefferson
  • Alabama Week Begins
  • TSD Subscribers: How successful has the “Wildcat” been for Alabama and is Mark Ingram much of a threat to throw out of that formation?

    BamaMag Publisher: Although the “Wildcat” has amounted to only about one-tenth of the number of plays in Alabama’s offense, and even though there has been little expansion of the playbook in that formation, it has been very successful. It is not unusual for Alabama to slide into the formation for a series and stay in it until it is stopped (or scores). Bama has not thrown out of the formation, but Ingram said there are pass options for him.


    TSD Subscribers: Besides Julio Jones and Mark Ingram, who is a threat on offense that LSU should watch out for?

    BamaMag Publisher: Alabama has two new faces on offense who have been effective. Tight end Colin Peek was All-ACC when he played at Georgia Tech (he transferred to Alabama when Paul Johnson, who doesn’t use a tight end in his offense, was hired by the Yellow Jackets) and he has been a key receiver. Trent Richardson is a freshman tailback who broke Emmitt Smith’s rushing records at Escambia High in Pensacola, Fla. He is a powerful back who seems to get about twice as much yardage as seems possible.


    TSD Subscribers: Does Bama's defense play mostly zone, man or a combo?

    BamaMag Publisher: Combo might be the answer, but it seems that so many blitzes come from nickel (which Alabama will be in on most passing downs), safety and cornerback but more often than not the Tide is in man.

    Nick Saban will bring plenty of pressure against Jordan Jefferson

    TSD Subscribers: What is the Alabama weakness that LSU needs to exploit? Conversely, what LSU weakness will Nick Saban seek to challenge?

    BamaMag Publisher: LSU probably needs to run up the middle of the Alabama defense, where the Tide has Terrence Cody at nose tackle and Rolando McClain at middle linebacker. I’ve listened very closely to Nick Saban as he discussed the Tigers, and I would say there is no LSU weakness for Alabama to exploit.


    TSD Subscribers: What has the bye done for Alabama and what is the mood around Tuscaloosa coming off the bye week?

    BamaMag Publisher: I can’t remember the last time I saw a football team that needed an open date as much as Alabama did. The way Alabama practices (a lot of contact and a lot of first team offense vs. first team defense) coupled with eight consecutive games to start the season had taken its toll, and it showed in the Tennessee game. Coaches, players and sportswriters – particularly sportswriters – all seem to be refreshed and in good spirits following the open date.


    TSD Subscribers: Terrance Toliver on Kareem Jackson seems to be LSU's one major advantage on offense. Are there any other mismatches to watch on Saturday?

    BamaMag Publisher: I would agree that Toliver against Jackson would rank as the biggest concern among Alabama fans. Nevertheless, this does not appear to be a game in which there are not obvious mismatches, but rather a contest in which both sides can be expected to be good to excellent in all areas.


    TSD Subscribers: What kind of offensive game plan do you expect from Alabama? Conservative; count on the defense to hold and hope to win another 12-10 slugfest?

    BamaMag Publisher: Nick Saban has indicated that he wants a more aggressive offense than Alabama showed in its four field goal outing against Tennessee. I don’t think anyone is ever going to confuse Alabama with Texas Tech or BYU, but I expect the Bama offense to be in quarterback Greg McElroy’s hands.


    TSD Subscribers: Nick Saban is noted for his defenses. Who does he consider the most dangerous offensive threat that LSU has?

    BamaMag Publisher: When Nick and I are sitting around shooting the breeze...yeah, right. He hasn’t shared that information with me. He mentioned several players, all of them obvious, in his remarks this week. If he’s like me, he’s giving a lot of thought to Brandon LaFell.


    TSD Subscribers: Is this matchup generating the type of big-game hype that you would expect from an LSU/Alabama battle? Is there much concern amongst the Crimson Tide faithful about LSU pulling the upset?

    BamaMag Publisher: One of the nice things about Alabama football is that there have been a lot of big games in Crimson Tide history. This is another of those. The mindset in Alabama is one of respect for the opponent, but optimism that Alabama will prevail.


    Again, thank you for this opportunity.

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