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Deke Bellavia

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Deke: Tide receivers must step up in rematch with LSU

With LSU and Alabama’s defenses being the theme in the rematch national title game, the team that wins will have players step up and make plays.  And, some players that make plays in the second meeting may very well be some that had no impact in the first game between LSU and Alabama.
In their 9-6 overtime loss to LSU back in November, Alabama had six players catch at least one pass from quarterback A.J. McCarron.  That is a decent number when looking at the way the ball was distributed.

However, I think the Tide has to get their tight end Brad Smelly more involved this time around.  Alabama’s Smelly has been a solid player his entire career for the Tide.  With that said, Smelly will need to be more active on January 9th.  The Tide’s third-leading receiver had just one grab for eight yards in the first meeting between LSU and Bama.  Smelly has sure hands and he could be key when the LSU defense is bringing the heat on McCarron.
Also this season the Tide’s leading receiver when it comes to average yards per catch is Kenny Bell.  Over the 2011 season Bell hauled in sixteen receptions for 229 yards with wo touchdowns.  Bell leads the Tide with 14.3 yards per catch, and in a game that figures to be real tight, one or two of his average catches could be huge against LSU.  Bell did not have a single grab in the first meeting between the Tide and Tigers.

As expected, the Tide’s top two targets led Alabama in receptions and yards in their first game against LSU.  Running back Trent Richardson, Alabama’s second-leading receiver on the club, had five receptions for 80 yards, including a 39-yarder in the first half of the game.

The majority of Trent’s yards came on missed assignments…Or, on good play calls, depending on what side of the fence you are on.  LSU did make the necessary adjustments at halftime, Richardson was basically non-existent in the second half.  Even if they are minimal gains, Alabama must get Trent the ball more when it comes to rushing and passing. 

And you can best believe that the Tide’s top target Marquis Maze will be key in the game.  Over the course of the last four seasons Maze has been a reliable player in the pass-catching department, as well as lending a solid hand on special teams.  Maze had six catches for sixty-one yards back in November against LSU. 

And certainly don’t count out Darius Hanks.  Hanks made his presence felt with two catches for 38 yards, and his ability to slip tackles for extra yards could be crucial to the Tide’s success against an LSU defense that has not allowed many such slipped tackles this season.

When teams meet twice in a season and the first game is very tight, it is hard to say what will be different or what coaches might try to do differently.  On the passing end of their offense, I think the Tide will get the ball more to their tight end.  And, also watch out for Eddie Lacy.

Lacy and Richardson are not often in the backfield together, but with the Tigers putting a big emphasis on Trent Richardson (and rightfully so,) I can envision Alabama trying to hit Lacy, who is very talented, but certainly does not draw the same attention as Trent.

Those are just my hunches, my “guesses,” if you will, and everyone has them.  My hunches are minor and not much different.  But like I said earlier:  When things were as tight as they were last time and with two defensive units that can light it up and score as fast as the offensive units in this game, I don’t think a whole lot of things will be done differently! 

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Topics : Sports
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Locations : Alabama
People : A.J. McCarronBrad SmellyDarius HanksEddie LacyKenny BellTrent Richardson

01/02/2012 12:12PM
Deke: Tide receivers must step up in rematch with LSU
Please Enter Your Comments Below
01/02/2012 5:32PM
Let's hope they dnt step up....cuz McCarron is better than JJ..LSU defense will stop em!
01/02/2012 5:50PM
what are you a bama fan?
01/02/2012 9:42PM
JJ is a lot better now than he was in the first Bama game. He didn't even start and was just earning his way back. LSU should continue to hold Richardson in check as they did after the first half. LSU has a slight edge on offense, defense and special teams because of their depth and they have a big edge in the kicking game. Bama will have to have the edge in luck, a factor out of either team's control, to prevail.
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