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One Last One from Shane
Posted by Bama Mike on Tuesday January 03 2012 @ 03:12PM CST
[ Shane Sez ]
This is a slightly modified article taken from the last article written by Shane just before he died. I have taken it and rewritten very little so that it reflects what Shane would say if he were still with us. I hope I have done him justice. - Bama Mike

My Last Saturday as I watched the Crimson Tide come out of their tunnel ready for the Iron Bowl I could easily tell that the vow of "Never Again" was going to be fulfilled. The same Tide team that shocked the home faithful – and the nation - last year by blowing a 27 point lead were not going to let that happen again. This was not going to be repeated and by the time the smoke cleared in the second half, Alabama had taken the Aubies to the woodshed for a 42 to 14 rout, all while executing one of the most dominating, physical performances in the history of the Alabama/Auburn rivalry. The Tigers were literally destroyed.

Then, the LSU Bengal Tigers went to the Georgia Dome and exposed the Georgia Bulldogs as a team suffering from poor production on both sides of the ball and a lack of leadership – especially in the coaching department. LSU started the game knocking Georgia on its back and ended it the same way. Besides, is there really anything else to say after watching LSU totally dismantle a team in its own house without breaking a sweat? Truthfully, Georgia isn’t anywhere near ready for prime time and LSU is as solid as it was the day Nick Saban left for Miami.

Now because all the stars lined up in perfect order we get to see the “second showdown” at The Super Dome. In fact, almost every pundit, expert, master-mind, and football guru around the country has and will spend the entire upcoming weeks speculating on the final result from what may very well be the biggest college game ever. LSU’s and Alabama's rematch represents the essence of what “big-time” football has become. This game is actually a second single-elimination match in the hunt for the national championship.

And, due to the giant media-hype surrounding the game, LSU and Alabama players must be prepared to endure a thousand stupid questions and distractions. The head coach that keeps his team focused on the game itself will raise his odds of winning the game.

Many factors determine the outcome of a gridiron battle, but none more than errors. When both teams are great like LSU and Alabama, many times victory hinges on the little things. An interception, fumble, botched punt, or errant kick-off could change the momentum of this game in a New York heartbeat. It did in the first and it will in the second.

Alabama and LSU are high-energy, high-powered football programs chocked full of 4 and 5-star premium athletes. Sometimes this type of blue-chippers is hard to harness. That’s why it’s very important for Coach Saban and Coach Miles to maintain team discipline on the field during the game. The squad that keeps penalties to a minimum will have yet another edge. In a game with such closely-matched talent, every facet is of the utmost importance.

Unfortunately, injuries are part of gridiron sports. Regrettably, in this game, if the Tide or Tigers lose one or two “key” players the entire picture could change dramatically, especially in a game where most of the personnel match up so closely.

When all is said and done, I think Alabama will win this game. One major reason is the quarterback. I think Alabama signal-caller A.J. McCarron has vastly improved and his arm is becoming a legitimate weapon. Plus, Alabama’s young quarterback is showing leadership and command tendencies that indicate he has great potential. I think his play will be the difference in the contest.

One more thing – let there be no doubt. The Alabama Crimson Tide has the best defense in the nation. LSU’s stop-unit in very good, but the Tide is number-one in every category that counts: rushing, scoring, opponent’s pass-efficiency, and total defense. From every objective standpoint this Tide defensive squad may be one of the best ever. Stats like 359 net rushing yards in eight games (45 yds. per game.), two rushing touchdowns (only six TD's overall), and finally, giving up only 6.88 points-a-game speaks for itself. Besides, Alabama also will have the best two athletes on the field – Trent Richardson and Marquis Maze. Can LSU’s great defense stop them twice? I don't think so. "Never Again" will come through one more time.

< Happy New Year Grades | The 2011 Season Will Bring Change - LSU Will Lose >

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