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LSU's coach Orgeron sees a lot of LSU's national championship offense in Alabama

Glenn Guilbeau
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones throws under pressure from Georgia defensive lineman Devonte White during the second half at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

BATON ROUGE — The Alabama offense LSU coach Ed Orgeron and his defensive staff have been watching the last two weeks looks hauntingly familiar.

The No. 1 Crimson Tide (6-0) is running an attack similar to what LSU rode last season with quarterback Joe Burrow to the Heisman Trophy and a 15-0 national championship season.

"They're on track to having the same type of offense we had last year," Orgeron said during his team's open week last week. "Tremendous offense right now."

The game, scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m. in Tiger Stadium, was postponed on Tuesday as the Tigers have suffered an outbreak of COVID-19.

Possible dates being considered by the Southeastern Conference to make up the game are Nov. 21 and Dec. 5 with some juggling of other teams' schedules involved. As of now, the next scheduled game for LSU (2-3) will be at Arkansas (3-3) on Nov. 21 at 11 a.m. either on the SEC Network or ESPN.

Meanwhile, Orgeron has noticed some Joe Brady, who was LSU's vastly successful and pioneering pass game coordinator last year before jumping to the NFL after one season, in Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. 

"I’ve known Steve Sarkisian all my life," said Orgeron, who coached with Sarkisian at USC. "Great play caller."

The Tide has the nation's No. 4 total offense with 555.2 yards a game. LSU finished No. 1 in the nation last year in total offense with 568.4 yards a game.

Alabama is fourth in passing offense with 380 yards a game. LSU finished second in passing offense last season with 401.6 yards a game.

The Tide is No. 4 in scoring offense with 47.2 points a game. LSU finished No. 1 last year with 48.4 points a game.

"It's a little different, but they're putting up the same numbers," Orgeron said. "Great players. The quarterback is doing a great job. Got a great offensive coordinator. Great plan."

Alabama junior Mac Jones is a Heisman contender and is No. 4 in the nation in quarterback efficiency at 210.3 on 139-of-177 passing for 2,196 yards and 22 touchdowns with two interceptions. Burrow finished No. 1 in the nation last year in efficiency at 202.0 on 402-of-527 passing for 5,671 yards and a Ruthian 60 touchdowns with six interceptions.

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) is carried off the field by teammates Tyler Shelvin (72) and Zach Von Rosenberg (38) after defeating Alabama 46-41 in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Tuscaloosa , Ala. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

"The guy is having a tremendous year," Orgeron said. "Somebody asked me to compare him to Joe Burrow, and he may be, I don't know. Hopefully for him, he has a great career. I don't know him as well as Joe. Joe brought a lot of intangibles to us. I'm sure the guy is doing the same thing. And I wish him the best, not the best against us, obviously."

Alabama's version of LSU tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire is senior tailback Najee Harris, who leads the Southeastern Conference and is No. 11 in the nation with 714 yards rushing on 124 carries and has 14 touchdowns. Edwards-Helaire, a first round pick last spring by Kansas City, finished No. 2 in the SEC and No. 15 in the nation last season with 1,414 yards on 215 carries with 16 touchdowns.

Harris has caught 20 passes for 183 yards. Edwards-Helaire caught 55 passes for 453 yards last season.

"Play action pass, the shots, the deep balls," Orgeron said. "We were more of a spread team last year. And they're not as much of a spread team as we were, but very similar in the numbers. And very effective."

LSU's defense, meanwhile, has not been effective and makes this game appear on paper to be very one-sided. The Tigers are 119th out of 123 Football Bowl Subdivision schools in pass defense with 335.2 yards allowed a game and No. 110 in total defense with 478.6 yards allowed a game.

"We've got to play better defense," Orgeron said. "For the most part, we've played good offensively, except against Auburn. We haven't played good defense most of the year."

Alabama was a 24-point favorite, according to BetMGM.

"Alabama is going to be a big challenge for us," Orgeron said before the postponement. "But we're going to be ready to play. We're going to be physically ready to play. We've got to match their physicality, and it's going to be a fun night. Let 'er rip."

LSU has not gone into this game with a losing record since 1999 and has not been unranked entering since 2001.

"Well, I'm going to be excited to play Alabama, I know that," Orgeron said. "And I know what this game means to the university, to our football team, to our alumni, the state of Louisiana. It's our biggest rivalry. Great challenge. Obviously. Alabama is a great team. So we're going to be fired up, ready to play."

Orgeron and his staff have spent most of its last several practices making corrections.

"Yeah, it's about LSU, man," he said. "It's always going to be about LSU. It's not about our opponent. We've got a lot of things we're trying to get better. We're trying to shore up stuff every day."

LSU broke its eight-game losing streak to Alabama with a 46-41 win last season in Tuscaloosa. The Tigers last beat the Tide two straight in the 2010 and '11 regular seasons.

"We're going to put 11 men on the field, and we'll fight like Tigers," Orgeron said. "This is LSU-Alabama. We ain't blinking. We're going after it."

If it happens.