BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU Tigers could not run.
Joe Burrow couldn’t hide.
Alabama’s defense saw to that Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. The Crimson Tide’s front seven beat up LSU’s offensive line, closing holes before they opened and collapsing the pocket on Burrow, the Tigers’ quarterback, before he could settle in to make comfortable decisions.
It resulted in a shutout victory, Alabama winning 29-0 against a team ranked No. 3 in the country.
“They had moved the ball and ran the ball against everybody they had played against,” UA coach Nick Saban said. “We had a good plan and we made some adjustments.”
Alabama has not allowed a single point on LSU’s home field since 50 seconds remained in regulation of the 2014 meeting, a span that now stretches 120 minutes of game time plus an overtime period. Mack Wilson’s interception in the final minutes preserved the shutout.
LSU actually seemed to give up on the run before the first whistle. Or at least decided it needed to pass to set up the run. The Tigers only called two running plays in the first quarter, a span that covered three possessions. By halftime, the running backs had amassed fewer than 10 yards on seven attempts, and two sacks had left LSU with minus-1 yard rushing.
Burrow had his own troubles. His longest completion before intermission went for 18 yards, and his other five connections yielded a total of 50 yards. He was good on just 8 of 18 attempts.
By the end, LSU’s running backs gained 19 yards on 13 carries. Burrow finished 18 of 35 for 184 yards with an interception and was sacked five times.
Alabama didn’t blitz a lot. It didn’t do anything particularly fancy. Isaiah Buggs, Quinnen Williams and Raekwon Davis ate up LSU’s offensive front and gave the Tigers few valid options. It’s hard to run when you can’t block and hard to pass when the pressure never relents.
Williams made 10 stops with 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. Davis had four stops and was credited with half a tackle for loss. Buggs had two tackles, including half a sack and a tackle behind the lien of scrimmage.
“Man, our defensive line dominated,” linebacker Dylan Moses said. “Most linebackers, you know, they would get upset that they’re not getting the most tackles and whatnot, but I want them to succeed. They’re making themselves look good and they’re making me look good.”
LSU was often forced into max protection to even attempt to pass, with linebackers and tight ends kept back for protection.
“We tried everything we possibly could,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “We just got beat.”
It didn’t change in the second half. Not even after a long kickoff return set LSU up at the Alabama 40-yard line. Two runs yielded exactly that many yards, and Burrow’s third-and-eight pass was jarred loose from the intended receiver before he could grasp it. The Tigers made two other treks keep into Alabama territory late in the game but came away empty-handed with a missed field goal and the interception in the end zone.
“Our defensive line was pushing them back, they were putting the quarterback under pressure and it was affecting them,” Moses said. “It’s a great thing.”
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