By Joe Klingbeil
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
In a rivalry that has received a reputation for being decided at the line of scrimmage and in the trenches, it was punter JK Scott who made the difference for Alabama in its 24-10 win over LSU Saturday night.
In slugfest win, the senior changed field position for the Crimson Tide and stymied the Tigers’ offense before drives even began.
“I think he changed the field position three or four times. It’s critical in the game,” Nick Saban said. “This was probably his best game all year long in terms of not only punting, the distance, but the hangtime, because they were double splicing the gunners.”
Scott booted eight punts for an average of 51.6 yards and flipped the field each time his cleat made contact with the pigskin. Six of Scott’s punts landed inside the 20-yard line. Three of the kicks were downed inside the 10. The best field position the Tigers had coming off of a Scott kick was at the 39-yard line.
Scott agreed that this was his best showing of the year, but said he could not have done it without the help of a former Alabama punt returner.
“I guess the way I felt was different was in the bye week I was talking to Javier Arenas and he’s kind of been helping me out,” Scott said. “He’s got a really good mindset about things and especially about being like, doing what you do as a specialist. And he told me to focus on each kick in practice like it’s a game rep. So I’ve heard that many times, but coming from him it really stuck in me. That’s what my mindset has been the last two weeks, and it carries over in the game really well because it helps you focus.”
Five of his punts went for more than 50 yards. It was the most punts he’s had in a game all season, and his best average all year. The Tigers’ lone return on the night went for just two yards.
Scott kept LSU pinned back, but did it while keeping his punts within range of his coverage. He and Alabama’s coverage dictated field position to LSU in a game where it was needed.