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Better Know an Opponent: Alabama Crimson Tide

LSU needs a sweep

ATVS Paul/Dan

Sometimes, you have to kick sand in the weakling’s face. This is one of those times. Besides, it’s Bama. LSU sits at 10-8 in the SEC and desperately needs to pick up some ground on the West leaders. Well, here’s the big chance. Enter 2-16 Alabama coming off a loss to a SWAC team. LSU doesn’t need a series win, they need a sweep.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Record: 15-26 (2-16)

RS/RA: 220/208

Rank/RPI/ISR: NR/193/182

Yeah, that’s not good. But at least they are still positive on the runs scored/runs allowed metric! Honestly, looking at the stat sheet, Alabama’s numbers aren’t good, but they aren’t horrific either. Nowhere near where you’d expect a team getting this badly crushed to be. That gives off all the indications of a team that has thrown in the towel on the season. Just what the doctor ordered: a team on a ten game SEC losing streak. LSU needs to make it thirteen.

Mascot: Big Al

“Hold your horses, the elephants are coming, and out stamped this Alabama varsity." Look, I do appreciate a sportswriter in 1930 gloating about beating Ole Miss, because beating Ole Miss never goes out of style. So the elephant thing comes at expense of the hated Rebels, and that makes it barely acceptable. Alabama didn’t get around to sticking someone in a costume until 1979, when Bear Bryant relented and allowed for the debut of Big Al, who has been terrifying children ever since.

About the School

USNWR Rank: 103

Most Popular Major: Business

Fully 30% of Alabama’s undergraduates are some sort of business major, which is just a ridiculously high number. The school has an about average ranking for a big state school, and it does have an excellent law and medical school. So, while they aren’t busy cranking out the most evil football team on earth, they are generating the lesser evil of more lawyers and businessmen.

About the Team

The Offense

Alabama hits 274/362/402 as a team, which puts it firmly in the bottom half of the conference, but not all the way in the cellar. The numbers don’t quite match up with a two win team. Heck, they are even middle of the pack in the SEC in doubles and home runs, so it’s not like they can’t hit one out, always a worry with an LSU pitcher on the mound. The biggest issue might be that they are near the SEC lead in sacrifices while near the bottom in stolen bases. This is a team trying to force a running game they aren’t particularly good at.

The biggest offensive threats all seem to come with a caveat. Cobie Vance (325/374/388) leads the team in batting average, but it’s sort of an empty average as he hits for little power and doesn’t walk a lot. Chandler Taylor (257/345/542) has the most power on the team, leading the team in slugging and home runs with 11. He also is a boom or bust guy, hitting just 257 on the year. Kyle Kaufman leads the team with his 420 OBP, but he has less than 100 AB’s, and he’s been a disaster on the basepaths, getting caught on 5 of 11 attempts. It’s that kind of team.

The Defense

The Tide’s pitching staff is not good, and they boast a collective ERA of 4.31. They have announced only the first two starters of the weekend: Dylan Duarte (4.65 ERA) and Nick Eicholtz (5.49). When the guy with an ERA of nearly five and a half isn’t the question mark, you know things have gone south. Jake Walters has been the team’s relative ace, but he’s been hit hard recently trying to bounce back from injury. It looks like his recovery has hit a bump in the road. If he can pitch Sunday, that will give Bama the edge on the final game of the series on the hill.

Tiger Bait?

God, I hope so. LSU needs a sweep badly.