TUSCALOOSA -- In order to breakdown Alabama’s opponents, each week we’re reaching out to beat writers who cover the opposing teams. Ross Dellenger covers LSU for the Baton Rouge Advocate.
Q. With the point spread being what it is and most analysts doubting them, what's the mood of the players in the underdog role?
A. Les Miles has been clear about one thing - his team doesn't take on the underdog mentality (or at least he doesn't want them to). Miles is adamant that his team can play with and beat anyone. The players are split - some loving the underdog/spoiler role and others hating it. Overall, I think most of them are angry about how large the spread is. They're out to prove everyone wrong. One player this week said that LSU was out to "shock the world." Keep in mind, LSU has beaten Alabama more than any other team over the last few years.
Q. How does LSU's defense plan to attack Alabama's balanced offensive attack?
A. One would think that LSU will attempt to first stop the run. They can't allow Alabama to have the long-sustained drive. Shutting down T.J. Yeldon has to be priority No. 1. Pressuring AJ McCarron is No. 2, especially when factoring in the Tigers' struggling secondary. The unit is young in spots and just not very good. LSU's front needs to put pressure on McCarron because LSU's cornerbacks and safeties may be getting beat down the field.
Q. What's the best way to defend Zach Mettenberger's connection with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry?
A. Put pressure on Mettenberger. It's the best way to stop his connections to his top two targets. Mettenberger isn't good on his feet. When forced to escape the pocket and throw on the run, bad things happen. There is another way: suffocate Beckham and Landry. Ole Miss did this, forcing Mettenberger to throw to covered targets. Mettenberger threw three interceptions in that game.
Q. Give Alabama fans an offensive and defensive player who could surprise the Crimson Tide.
A. On the defensive side, linebacker - and Alabama native - Kwon Alexander has been one of the lone stars to a defensive unit that's struggled this year. He's quick. He tackles well. He's stolen a starting job already and is poised to be a household name by the end of the season. On offense, look for one of the fullbacks. J.C. Copeland and Connor Neighbors are two wrecking balls and LSU will surprise you by throwing to them every now and again.
Q. Who wins, why and what's the score?
A. Alabama wins the game. The Tide's offense, in many cases, is just as good as LSU's unit. The defenses have separation. LSU defenders aren't good enough tacklers and aren't explosive enough to slow 'Bama. But this game's close a majority of the time. Alabama 31, LSU 24.