Alabama finished its home schedule at Bryant-Denny Stadium with a lackluster 2-5 record. The seven games were the most ever played in the stadium in one season and the five losses the most ever suffered by Bama in Bryant-Denny. The loss assured the Crimson Tide of a losing record in the first season under Head Coach Mike Shula. Bama is 4-7 with two games to play. Bama fell to 2-5 in Southeastern Conference competition.
Alabama will play at Auburn next Saturday, a game that will be nationally-telecast on the ESPN cable network. Kickoff will be shortly after 6:45 p.m. CST.
LSU, now 9-1 overall and 5-1 in SEC play, was particularly impressive on defense. What few successes the Alabama could muster ended in embarrassment, including the Tide’s only scoring play. With 6:38 to play Alabama’s Brian Bostick kicked a field goal with LSU leading 27-0. While the case can be made that Alabama needed a field goal and three touchdowns with two-point conversions to catch the Tigers, the field goal is likely to be portrayed as merely avoiding the shutout.
The field goal came after Alabama had the ball first and 10 just outside the LSU 10. And the Tide got a good start from there will Shaud Williams picking up five yards on first down. But then a pass was dropped and then Williams was corralled for a four-yard loss, bringing on the field goal unit.
The Alabama score was set up by a couple of nice plays. Brodie Croyle scrambled out of trouble and hit Triandos Luke on a 34-yard pass. Kenneth Darby followed that with a 16-yard run. And then fullback Tim Castille made an excellent run after taking a short pass from Croyle for a 21-yard gain to the 11.
But that wasn’t the worst example of offensive efficiency. On the final play of the third quarter, Alabama had driven to a first-and-goal at the LSU five-yard line. Bama was guilty of illegal procedure to get the scoring chance off to a poor start. Then Crimson Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle, victimized by the LSU blitz all night, was sacked for a six-yard loss. And then there were two incomplete passes. Bama got no points out of the opportunity.
Alabama’s offense was harassed throughout the night. In the first quarter Bama had no first downs and Bo Freelend had punted five times. And while Freelend’s punts were satisfactory, Tide punt coverage was horrible. After a couple of long returns, Freelend began punting out of bounds.
Although Croyle was sacked only two times, he was battered throughout the night. Several of his 12 completions (in 33 attempts) came from scrambles, and a few of his tosses were batted down by LSU rushers. He had one pass intercepted (after being batted by a rusher) and managed 154 passing yards.
Triandos Luke had four catches for 60 yards and Tyrone Prothro three for 41.
But passing problems were only part of the problem. Shaud Williams, the SEC’s leading rusher coming into the game, was held to only 29 yards on 11 carries. Kenneth Darby, who was the back-up tailback in the absence of Ray Hudson, had 10 rushes for 41 yards.
Following the game, Shula said that Hudson did not play, but that he was not suspended from the team. The coach said he was still gathering information about the situation. Hudson was arrested last week and charged with possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor.
Six of Alabama’s first seven possessions were “three-and-out,” and the seventh was a four-down series. Of the Tide’s 13 possessions, seven were three downs and three were four downs, an eight-play drive ended in an interception, and another drive ended with a missed field goal. Freelend had nine punts for a 36.3 average and the Tigers’ Skyler Green returned four of them for 69 yards.
Alabama’s defense suffered the same embarrassment as the offense. LSU had a number of offensive miscues, but still managed to put up 28 first downs, rush 40 times for 219 yards, and complete 24 of 36 passes for 251 yards. The Tigers had 76 plays for 470 yards, an average of 6.2 yards per play. Alabama’s defense did not have a sack, although Antwan Odom forced an intentional grounding call with his rush on Tigers’ quarterback Mike Mauck.
LSU suffered two turnovers with Bama’s Charlie Peprah getting both takeaways. In the second quarter, Peprah intercepted a pass in the end zone and ran it out 36 yards. The Tide was unable to take advantage, punting four downs later. On the first play of the third quarter, with Bama trailing 17-0, Peprah gave up a pass completion, but then forced a fumble and recovered it for Alabama at the LSU 28. But the offense managed only one yard in three plays, forcing a 45-yard field goal attempt that was missed.
Alabama managed only 10 first downs. The Tide had 26 rushes for 65 yards to go with the 154 passing yards. Bama’s total offense was 59 plays for 219 yards, an average of 3.7 yards per play.
LSU was good on only four of 12 third down conversion chances, but that was still much better than Alabama, good on only two of 16 such opportunities. Bama was good on one of three fourth down tries, a nice 35-yard Croyle completion to freshman wide receiver Tyrone Prothro to the LSU five on the final play of the third quarter. The Tigers had a substantial advantage in time of possession, 34:30-25:30.
LSU had to settle for field goals from Chris Jackson on the Tigers’ first and last scoring opportunities. He was good on a 20-yarder and a 33-yarder (and also missed a try from 46). LSU quarterback Mike Mauck connected with Michael Clayton on a 23-yard pass and with tight end Eric Edwards on a three-yard pass. Alley Broussard had a four-yard run for the final LSU touchdown.
In addition to his takeaways, Peprah had an excellent night tackling with 13 primary stops and one assist. One reason for the large number of tackles was the dearth of passes broken up – none by Alabama. Derrick Pope was in on nine tackles, Anthony Madison seven.