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Alabama 20, LSU 13: A Viewer's Guide to the Replay

That was fucking bullshit.

Chris Graythen

I pretty much had my first sentence of this written as I was walking out of the game. Yes, LSU lost the game because Alabama made plays in overtime and the Tigers didn't.

But it shouldn't have come to that.

For 59 minutes, LSU outplayed Alabama at all the big moments, rushed for 183 yards and had recovered a huge fumble inside the 10-yard line. That was the game. Punch it in the endzone, break the tie, make Alabama score seven inside of a minute with no timeouts with a quarterback that had been ice cold.

And then the same thing happened that has always happened in these moments. SEC officials looked at a scrum of chippy players being chippy, and decided for some reason that only Vadal Alexander deserved to draw a penalty. From that moment, any possibility of a touchdown was removed, and Alabama had more momentum than they deserved in any way, shape or form. Because some incompetent dickhead in a white and black shirt decided that only one team deserved the penalty. Unsurprisingly, the break went the way of the team from Alabama.

My heart sank in my chest and there was the immediate feeling that there wasn't going to be a good outcome of this game. A few more questionable plays later, and that's just what happened.

Call it sour grapes, call it whatever you want -- and I know some people will. I don't really give a damn. That game was taken away. Not by Alabama. By the people officiating the game.

Were mistakes made? Yep. Was LSU's passing game awful? Damn right. And the same thing can be said of the Tide. They just got bailed out when they needed it.

I feel...violated. Stolen from. Haven't felt like that after a football game since the 2006 bullshit in Auburn.

On to the game:

  • If one play perfectly encapsulates LSU's struggles through the air, it would be the Eddie Jackson interception that set up Alabama's field goal right before halftime. Anthony Jennings stared down Travin Dural on a slant, receiver falls down, Jackson gets the easy pick. A failure on both ends of the passing equation. Had Dural not fallen down chances are it's still a tough catch, although Dural likely would have been open.

  • And that's what we saw for most of the night -- when Jennings made the right read or a catchable throw, balls were dropped. Not that he made many. Poseur's pointed out and I agree, if all of the dropped passes are caught, Jennings probably finishes somewhere around 50 percent on the night in terms of his completion rate. Still not good enough.

  • And if a word describes Jennings other than bad, it's simply inconsistent. He makes the right read more often than not, but botches the throw. In the first half, he makes a couple of nice scrambles, but in the second he made some pretty awful reads on the zone-read, running right into a couple of losses.

  • The drops are glaring at receiver -- especially Trey Quinn, who was even dropping balls in warm-ups. Maybe the night was too big for him. Dural and Malachi Dupre each coughed up open slants. And just about every big drop came on third down.

  • Dupre's job No. 1 this offseason: to learn how to use his size on fade routes. He's too used to being able to just race right by the corner, and all too often allows himself to get walled too far to the sideline, creating tight space for him to get to the ball. You're 6-3 and 190-plus pounds kid. Get into the corner's body and push him around some. Don't let him get those hands on you and reroute. Take a page from Odell Beckham Jr. on this play versus Richard Sherman from Sunday:

    It came back to bite Dupre on another fade route in the third quarter, which could have been a touchdown.

  • That said, I think the coaching staff had the right gameplan overall. LSU stood toe-to-toe with Alabama at the line of scrimmage, and while they struggled at times, managed to block for 204 rushing yards out of the tailbacks. LSU needed to shrink this game and ugly it up, and they did as good a job of that as one could hope.

  • There were things the passing game did well -- putting Jennings on the move, stringing out Bama's secondary horizontally to open some stick throws (one of many reasons Quinn's drops were so frustrating, and it's because he was open on all of them). My biggest gripes were too many deep throws on first down because getting behind the chains was too risky for low-percentage throws, and the lack of targets for the running backs, who likely could have gotten the edge on Alabama's linebackers on some swing and flat throws.

  • The offensive line was inconsistent, largely due to Brandon Ivery, Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson all giving Alexander and Elliot Porter hell at times. La'el Collins, Jerald Hawkins and Ethan Pocic all did a great job.

  • On the other hand, Christian LaCouture might have had his best game as a Tiger. Just caused some absolute havoc inside, drew double-teams and really put his mates in good situations. Davon Godchaux, Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco all continued to be active as hell, combining for 18 tackles.

  • Rasco in particular did a great job of playing in a two-point stance and containing Sims on third downs. Hunter did this as well on some third-and-long situations. Both kept the Alabama quarterback in front of them, and even if LSU's pursuit didn't get to him often, Sims was rarely comfortable.

  • In run defense, Kendell Beckwith was pretty clearly slowed by some injury. Honestly I kind of was waiting for the levee to break at some point. Luckily Lane Kiffin wasn't particularly committed on that front.

  • Likewise, with the exception of his touchdown, which featured something two really bad missed tackles; LSU did a relatively nice job of containing Amari Cooper. They were physical with him, kept him from getting free releases outside. But on the TD, Jalen Collins gave him a bit too much room underneath and he broke free.

  • Official gripe No. 1: Dupre's touchdown catch was beyond obvious in the stadium. I had zero doubt that he caught that foot with a foot down. If the side judge and back judge need replay to get that right, they're in the wrong business. Side judge couldn't see the ball, but could see the feet. Back judge should have been able to say "yeah, he had the ball" and there's a touchdown. Missed a facemask on Cyrus Jones as well.

  • Offense adjusted well at halftime and strung together a nice drive to tie things up. A couple of easy play-action boot throws to go with some hard running. The missed fade to Dupre could have been completed with a better route.

  • Alabama punter J.K. Scott has a case for MVP of this one. Averaged nearly 50 yards a kick and consistently gave Tre'davious White very poor punts to return. And yes, White continues to be a heart attack back there. Much like Beckham was.

  • Nick Perry, late-uncalled PI aside, played a whale of a game for Alabama. He was the player Landon Collins is hyped up to be. Constantly in position and making tackles.

  • Trent Domingue has been really good on kickoffs for most of this year -- which is why it's baffling that he was so poor Saturday night. Low-line drives, even with the wind at his back. And then there was the shank at pretty much the worst possible moment. And yes, the call was for him to kick that out the back of the endzone, not squib it.

  • Official gripe No. 2: the Christion Jones catch on Bama's late FG drive should have been immediately reviewed. If the Dupre catch required it, and the Yeldon fumble did, they should have stopped play on principle alone at such a critical moment. Would it have been overturned? Hard to say. I think the ball appears to be moving on the ground, but I can see where they might say that's not definitive enough. But there's no excuse for whichever moron they staff that booth with to not immediately call for a look-see.

  • Official grip No. 3: I'll just let Mike Pereira speak for me.

  • In closing, in the last few days some weird yellow, fuzzy fungus has sprouted up in my back yard. It's really gross looking and almost looks like wadded up paper bags. I was worried a little but it's started to slowly rot off.

    That fungus has more value as a life form than Tom Ritter.

  • Going forward, I'm with the people calling for more playing time for Brandon Harris, but the approach has to be measured. Next week LSU plays at night, in Fayetteville, where conditions project to be very cold and possibly icy, against a solid Arkansas team on a horrible run of luck looking for a signature win. That's not the time to give the kid a start. He does need to get some meaningful snaps and a chance to earn more going forward. Jennings just isn't progressing.

    But just throwing him out there would be a mistake. Harris would be set up to fail, and you risk losing both players that way. What is different about this situation versus early October, is that Harris had played well and earned his opportunity, along with Jennings struggling. That's a very different situation from just pulling Jennings out of frustration. Putting Harris in that sort of position doesn't serve either player or the team, and risks causing more damage to the situation going forward. However, they do need to start giving him a chance to earn his playing time back.

  • One of the advantages of a team this young is that they can bounce back quickly, and LSU's going to need that. Last year, a pretty significant number of fans wrote the season off after the Bama game, and LSU put together one of the 2013 season's most dominant wins over Johnny Football and Texas A&M. There's still a good chance to finish this season strong at 9-3, a record that a lot of you didn't even think was attainable a month ago.