Saturday, April 1, 2023

Know the Foe: An opposing look at Alabama’s matchup with LSU

Tide Illustrated’s Max Wolborsky caught up with TigerDetails managing editor Julie Boudwin to discuss No. 6 Alabama’s game against No. 10 LSU this weekend.

What has led to Brian Kelly’s success in his first season at LSU?

Brian Kelly is a really good CEO-type of coach. He’s organized, to the point with communication and everything he does has a purpose. Early in his tenure he talked about his plan and laying out steps for players to become accustomed to and changed how they literally did everything, and it’s almost as though you can see those steps unfolding. No one truly knew what the team would look like in Week 1, and as a result, I don’t think they had an identity and dropped a close one to Florida State. It’s taken a few weeks but over the last two games we’ve seen LSU become the team they want to be and that’s a credit to Kelly.

What can you say about the play of Jayden Daniels? 

Some fans and media were ready to throw in the towel after Week 1 on Jayden Daniels. Early in the season he was missing throws, not seeing open receivers and frankly just not comfortable but week after week he has taken steps to get better and now he’s letting the ball fly before the receiver makes his break. He’s smart with the ball too with only one pick on the year. If Daniels continues to look like he has the last two games then the Tigers have one of the best offenses in the SEC.

What can Daniels do to give Alabama’s defense problems?

It’s simple: he’s extremely fast. He was clocked at 22 mph in the spring. He’s a good athlete too so if there’s nothing open he has no issue taking off and picking up large chunks on the ground.

What makes Kayhon Boutte such an effective receiver? 

Kayshon is an all-around playmaking wide receiver. He’s a down-the-field vertical threat and then he’ll beat you in the slot. He has good speed and the ability to stop on a dime. He had a rough start to the season but lately has really developed some chemistry and rhythm with Daniels.

Who are some other playmakers on this year’s Tiger offense that Alabama fans should know?

Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. have had good starts to their sophomore seasons and have seen more balls thrown at them with defenders focused on Boutte. Also, freshman tight end Mason Taylor, who is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Jason Taylor.

LSU has created 13 turnovers on defense so far this season, who are some of the guys to look out for on the LSU defense?

LSU’s defense is loaded with talent, it’s also loaded with transfers who have game experience from Greg Brooks Jr. and Joe Foucha to Colby Richardson and Mekhi Garner. BJ Ojulari and Harold Perkins Jr. are definitely two names to know for Saturday though.

What will the atmosphere be like inside Tiger Stadium, and will it play a part in the game?

There’s nothing like a Saturday Night in Death Valley and with the SEC West on the line I expect LSU fans to show up and show out. There’s rain in the forecast but it looks to be over by the time the game starts.

What are some of the ways the Tigers will try to make Bryce Young feel uncomfortable in his first game in Death Valley?

As I previously mentioned, look for Perkins and Ojulari to be in the backfield with the possibility of the speedy Perkins spying on Young throughout the game because we have seen him do a bit of that this season on other QBs.

In what ways could LSU control that game and pull off the upset?

— If LSU’s OL protects Daniels

— If LSU’s defense can contain Gibbs

— And if LSU doesn’t beat themselves up with flags or special teams errors

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