Both Tide, Auburn Struggled Vs. LSU

T.J. Yeldon

It may seem that Alabama and Auburn football teams don't have much in common as they approach the end of the regular season with a game at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday. The Crimson Tide is having an excellent season, while the Tigers are limping to the finish line.



But there is something in common. Both Alabama and Auburn had very close games against LSU.

It should not be a surprise that Bama had a difficult time defeating the Fighting Tigers in Baton Rouge. After all, LSU was the pre-season selection to be the nation's best team. Alabama scored on a 29-yard screen pass from A.J. McCarron to freshman tailback T.J. Yeldon to complete a five-play, 72-yard drive in 43 seconds. With just 51 seconds to play, the Crimson Tide had pulled out a 21-17 victory.

That is one of the big wins in Alabama's 10-1 season that has Bama ranked second in the nation. The Tide is 6-1 in Southeastern Conference games and has a chance to play for the SEC title against Georgia if Bama can get by Auburn Saturday. Kickoff will be at 2:30 p.m. CST with television coverage by CBS.

Auburn has not won in seven SEC games and has only a 3-8 record. But in the fourth game of the season at Auburn, the AU Tigers held LSU, ranked second in the nation at the time, to a season-low 351 yards and fell by only 12-10.

Does that mean that Alabama has given particular attention to Auburn's game against LSU in studying film?

"We study all the games closely," said Bama Coach Nick Saban. "We try to figure out what we need to do to do a good job on offense to be able to execute and do a good job on defense to try to slow them down, cover them the right way, and give our players the best chance to be successful.

"I just think that Auburn played a really, really good game against LSU. It was a very physical game, a very tough game. They played really well on defense against LSU, but I don't know that they did anything that is that much dramatically different in that game. They have some different players playing now that are contributing in a positive way, but to me it just shows me how good this team can be and how capable they are."

And Saban said the Tide hasn't taken any special motivational steps for the game against Auburn. "We're just trying to get everybody to stay focused on the things they need to do to play in this game," he said. "It's what's happening right now; precious present moment thinking about what you need to do to play your best, be your best and us be our best as a team. That's been the focus all week. We don't have anything special going on."

Saban said, "I've been pleased with the way the players have responded in practice this week. It's a little different week for them with school being out [Wednesday]. Sometimes that upsets the routine and the rhythm a little bit.

"I think games like this are all about everybody being responsible for their own self-determination which is understanding your role, understanding what you need to do to be successful in that role and demanding of yourself the things you need to do to do it so that we can go out there and play with the kind of effort and enthusiasm that has made us play this year when we've played well this year. Things don't happen by accident. Everybody has to be committed to making it happen against a good team, especially in a rivalry game like this.

"I've been pleased with the effort and attitude of the players this week in preparation and just try to continue to focus on the things that we need to do to play the best football we've played all year and hopefully continue to improve throughout the rest of the week."

He said that from an injury standpoint the Tide should be 100 per cent on Saturday.

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