TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- By all accounts Alabama should never have been in the situation it was in against LSU in the last six minutes of Saturday’s 20-14 win.
Twice the Alabama defense turned LSU away on fourth down, including once at the UA 9-yard line.
That’s when Alabama’s offense usually takes control, grinds the ball and runs out the clock.
Not this time.
Instead, the Crimson Tide offense gave the ball back to LSU. The first was courtesy of a Bryce Young fumble that gave the Tigers the ball at the UA 42.
“That was definitely one I wish I could have gotten back,” said Young, who was 24 of 37 passing for 302 yards and two touchdowns. “We have faith in our defense. They played lights out and came up big for us again.”
Alabama’s defense did come up big with another fourth-down stop, but UA’s offense sputtered again and lost five yards for a three-and-out.
“We didn’t block up front, we didn’t run the ball very well, and we couldn’t run the ball at the end of the game when we needed to,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “A lot of things we have to fix, but we need to fix them so we can be more consistent.”
The second half was brutal for Alabama, which went three-and-out three straight times, totaling just four yards in that stretch. After starting the game 4 of 8 on third downs, the offense converted just once in the second half.
“I wouldn’t say we were frustrated,” receiver Jameson Williams said. “We had some three-and-outs that weren’t supposed to happen, but I feel like we just have to get better.”
When you take out a 58-yard touchdown reception from Williams, Alabama had 35 second–half yards.
“I know we have an expectation that we are going to win easily, but sometimes it’s not so easy,” Saban said. “It’s difficult to win in this conference. It’s difficult to win week in and week out.”
The team totaled 308 yards for the game with a paltry six rushing yards, Alabama’s lowest total of the season by far. The previous low was 91 against Florida.
Running back Brian Robinson rushed the ball just five times in the second half for 10 yards and finished the game with 18 yards on 13 carries.
The run game was clearly out of sync. Darian Dalcourt (sprained ankle) went out after the first series with an injury. That pushed starting right tackle Chris Owens into the center role and Damien George to right tackle.
Saban said he didn’t think that had too much to do with execution up front.
“Whether it’s the strategic plan or the execution of the plan...we are responsible for that, too,” Saban said. “We’ve got to do a better job of blocking up front. I think Damien George did a good job. That was a real positive.”
The offense got bailed out twice by the defense, which forced two turnovers to give the offense a short field. Alabama needed seven plays off those turnovers to score two touchdowns.
“We have to be hungry from the jump,” Williams said. “We got off to a bad start today, but we have things we can work on. We are going to enjoy this for 24 hours and then get back to work and get it right.”