Louisiana prep stars continue to shine on Alabama
This Wednesday, the University of Alabama will once again close with the top signing class in the nation.
Depending on a final few commits, Alabama’s class will include as many as five of the top players who once played high school football in the state of Louisiana.
Is it a disturbing trend for LSU? Of course.
How do you remedy it? The answer is simple: With a different result than the last five times the two teams played on the first Saturday in November.
Edge rusher Tim Williams and offensive tackle Cam Robinson, who played their high school football in Louisiana, will be NFL first-round picks in April. That Williams didn’t attend LSU is particularly galling, considering he literally went to school next door at University Lab.
So, how does LSU narrow the gap on Alabama? It is pretty simple, really – it must have an edge at the quarterback position.
In 2016, the LSU defense was elite. The Tigers allowed 16 touchdowns, fewest in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Only once, at Texas A&M, did LSU allow an opponent to score more than 21 points in a game.
Here’s the truth about Alabama. As long as Nick Saban is the head coach. Alabama will recruit great classes. They will be outstanding on the offensive line and on the defensive front seven.
Here’s the reality for the LSU Tigers. If their quarterback play was good to very good, the results of several games in a six-game losing streak to Alabama may have been different. In 2016, LSU and Alabama played the only game all season in the FBS that was scoreless going into the fourth quarter. Bama won 10-0.
In 2015, Alabama led LSU 13-10 at the half. On the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter, Brandon Harris’ pass was intercepted by Dillon Lee. That interception quickly led to an Alabama touchdown.
In 2014, Anthony Jennings was 8-of-26 passing for 76 yards. LSU lost in overtime.
On the final two drives of regulation in this month’s national championship game against Alabama, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson drove his team 75 and 68 yards for touchdowns.
The final Associated Press poll only put an exclamation point on the year of the quarterback in college football. Watson threw 41 touchdown passes for the national champs. Jalen Hurts of Alabama threw 23 touchdown passes and rushed for 13 more.
Third-ranked USC got 31 touchdown passes from Sam Darnold. Jake Browning threw 43 touchdown passes for fourth-ranked Washington. And, Baker Mayfield threw 40 touchdown passes, including two touchdowns and 296 yards on only 19 completions in a rout of Auburn in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
If LSU wants to narrow the gap in recruiting on Alabama, the road map is difficult, but simple: A talented signal caller defeats the Alabama secondary and ends a streak that dates back to January 2012.
Win again in the series, and Ed Orgeron will no longer have to answer the question as to why many of Louisiana’s stars are fleeing east.