1. Alabama is undefeated and No. 1, but that's no real surprise. What's your take on this team through the first eight games? Expectations met? Exceeded?
In some respects, I think the No. 1 ranking has been surprising. The team had so many holes, and real concerns, but has been a machine (if not always aesthetically pleasing), particularly on defense. As far as expectations, I suspect this is a difficult one to answer based on the fan base, but we're were thought we might be: LSU-Alabama to keep the West, SEC and national title hopes alive.
2. How's this Alabama squad compare to the recent ones in Saban's run of success?
Defensively, it's on par; and, even on offense, it's kept up with those Joneses. After the OL gelled late September, the Tide are rushing for 250+ yards a game. It took some mental buying-in, but what could have turned into 2010 redux, has actually been a very fun team to watch.
3. What are your main concerns for this team going against a team like LSU? Are there any particular things that concern you?
The concerns are two-fold: First, trying to establish some sort of balance and rhythm on offense. The last thing we need to see is a young OL become frustrated and revert to the early season errors. Second, I'd be absolutely lying if I said that LSU's receivers against our secondary (now short a Honkey Badger), didn't concern me. LSU will not be able to run the ball consistently, I don't believe. Then again, they may not need to.
4. Does the soft schedule concern you at all? The Tide haven't really been tested since the big showdown with Johnny Football.
We have blasted even good and average teams since the A&M game, including Ole Miss. Everyone in the SEC has players, and I don't think Saban lets these guys conflate the Tennesees of the world with Georgia State. After nasty games against Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech, we needed those average opponents to get the headspace better.
5. With the way this series has gone in recent years, how confident do you think the Alabama fan base is, especially with a two-loss LSU squad coming in to Tuscaloosa?
This is probably the most confident the Alabama fan base has been in a while. Not defensively: LSU can score, and Miles always has tricks up its sleeve. But, certainly when our offense takes the field, I believe Alabama fans think we can outscore anyone. That said, I would caution against this hubris. LSU, as an elite program, always walks in with as much talent, a top-10 ranking, and the same motivations as Alabama. I love/hate this game so much.
6. Prediction for this game, or should we all just prepare for the usual plague of insanity that we've seen in the last few seasons?
Prediction: LSU's receivers and Mett makes some good plays deep and intermediate. There's nothing that can be done about that. Alabama will get caught flat-footed on a wheel or two, and LSU will get a few scores. Alabama, with the deeper receivers, better TEs and better QB, will be able to do just a bit more when it has the ball, especially since LSU can't just crowd the box. The entire game will be pass to set up the run by both teams. It will be weird, heart-breaking for three quarters, but I think Alabama is just the demonstrably better team this time around. Tide pulls away late, 30-17.