Everyone Has a Plan...


No one can say he's winning with someone else's players or someone else's scheme.  No one can attribute the success of this program right now to anyone other than Les Miles.  This is Miles' program entirely at this point - he owns its successes and its failures.  But mainly, he has made this team's image.

What is a Les Miles football team (other than really good)?  

This team is about attacking.  It is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness.  LSU goes at you full bore and the system not only allows, it expects, players to make big plays.  

LSU lives and dies off of big defensive plays and forcing turnovers.  The defense is out there not just to stop the offense, but to flip field position and give the offense a shortened field to work with.  It is great when it works, as it has for most of this season, but it also makes LSU vulnerable.  Miles is playing risk-reward, and hoping he never has to pay the price for it.

Barkevious Mingo overpersues when attacking off the edge.  Tyrann Matthieu gives up yards after the catch because he's going for the strip instead of making a form tackle.  Karnell Hatcher gives up a big play because he goes for the knockout blow instead of the tackle.  

These are all errors of aggression, and Miles seems okay with that.  Players don't get in trouble at LSU for being TOO aggressive.  They get rewarded.  Sure, Mingo might miss contain, but he's also a terror against pocket quarterbacks.  And the team has faith that someone else will plug the hole, usually Brandon Taylor.*

*Talk about unsung heroes.  The guy has completely earned the #18 jersey.  Usually, it's a bad thing when your safety has so many tackles, but with LSU, it's Taylor just covering for everyone else flying to the ball.  It's like he's the lone adult playing with a bunch of kids hopped up on speed.  He's the guy who has got to be responsible, allowing everyone else to just go crazy whenever they feel like it.  He's quietly the Defensive MVP.  There is no Honey Badger without his Responsible Babysitter picking up after him. 

As the season has progressed, teams have been unable to take advantage of LSU's all out attack on defense, and slowly (or rapidly) wilted as the game moved to the second half.  It's like the opposing boxer in the old mantra, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."  Sometimes, you just get tired from getting punched in the face repeatedly.  

If any team can stick to a plan, it's Alabama.  They'll have a plan before getting punched in the face, and it'll be the same one after.  Saban's built a reputation as a bit of a strategic mastermind, so he must have a plan to use LSU's aggression against it. Therein lies the key to this game.  How can Alabama exploit LSU's tendency to attack?  Or can they?  The best way to attack LSU so far has been to have a mobile QB.  Those types of QB's have been able to elude sacks and at least get something positive in the face of LSU's pressure.  Pocket quarterbacks have been sitting ducks.  Andrew McCarron's no lead foot, but no one's going to confuse him for Cam Newton.  

The task for Saban is simple: exploit the obvious inefficiency in LSU's defense.  It's a flaw just sitting there, waiting to be taken advantage of.  All you have to do is find the right personnel and play calls to do it.  Simple, right?  

We preach simplicity a lot around these parts.  Just because something seems easy doesn't mean it is.  It's like hitting against Randy Johnson - all you have to do is get your timing down and hit his fastball.  Well, that's a simple plan, but pretty hard to actually implement. It's easy for me to sit here and say LSU's defense is over aggressive and an enterprising coach could use that aggression against LSU.  After all, I'm not the one who is getting punched in the face.

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