It seems like Charlie McClendon vs. Bear Bryant, again. The LSU Tigers are good. The Alabama Crimson Tide is better.
It goes deeper than the obvious. LSU fans watched another subpar performance by their quarterback, this time Danny Etling, in a 10-0 loss to the Crimson Tide last Saturday. The LSU offense could muster only 125 yards.
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts had almost as many rushing yards (107), including the game-winning, fourth- quarter run of 21 yards.
So, is Nick Saban that good a coach? Yes. But he is a better recruiter.
If there was an award for the best coach in the game, it goes to LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. His defense was terrific. So, why has Alabama won the last six meetings with LSU?
My take: The play of the Alabama offensive line.
When left tackle Cam Robinson is chosen in the first round of the 2017 draft, he will be the fourth Tide offensive lineman to be drafted in the first round since 2013. He will join Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker and Ryan Kelly as first-round picks from Alabama in the last five drafts.
Referring to Robinson, recruited out of north Louisiana by Saban, Orgeron said on Monday: “He should be here.”
LSU’s last offensive lineman picked in the first round? Think about it.
In the meantime, two relatively obscure Alabama backs, Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough, each had more rushing yards than LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Alabama had 216 rushing yards. Three LSU running backs gained 48.
The inability to score a point at home, and the squandering of three drives that started in Alabama territory, had to be revealing to Orgeron’s boss. Director of athletics Joe Alleva has a decision to make: Do I stay with Orgeron and give him a chance to overhaul the offense? Or do I change coaches and scheme and go to more of a spread attack?
Ole Miss’ spread offense has been the great equalizer against Alabama. From 1988 to 2013, Ole Miss defeated Alabama twice. Head coach Hugh Freeze and the Rebels won in 2014 in Oxford and in 2015 in Tuscaloosa.
In the last three meetings with Alabama, the Rebels have scored 114 points. In the last three losses to Alabama, LSU has scored 29 points.
Ole Miss’ success in the spread has spawned a copycat in the SEC West. That would be the University of Alabama.
Alleva’s decision is a giant one for the future of the LSU football program. He has to get it right. And, whether it is Coach O or coach unknown, LSU can’t rely solely on its defense to win the big games in the SEC West.
So, that last LSU offensive lineman selected in the first round was … Alan Faneca … in 1998.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at email@example.com.