Penalties, red zone defense a concern for LSU playing Alabama - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Penalties a concern for No. 5 LSU entering revenge game against No. 1 Alabama

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A referee throws a flag, one of nine, against LSU in their game against Auburn on September 22, 2012. (abc3340.com) A referee throws a flag, one of nine, against LSU in their game against Auburn on September 22, 2012. (abc3340.com)
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger shrugs after his team was called for a penalty against Auburn. (abc3340.com) LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger shrugs after his team was called for a penalty against Auburn. (abc3340.com)
Les Miles has seen this happen way too often in 2012. (abc3340.com) Les Miles has seen this happen way too often in 2012. (abc3340.com)
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Ask any college football coach what infuriates them the most before, during and after games they have won or lost, and you're likely to hear the same answer from all of them.

Penalties.

Those little yellow hankies that land harmlessly on the ground before, during and after a play in a football game can wreak havoc on a coach's mental stability, with some guys losing it altogether.

Entering Saturday's primetime matchup with No. 1 Alabama, only two teams in the country -- Florida International and Southern California -- have more penalties in 2012 than Les Miles' 5th-ranked LSU Tigers.  And if not for Miles having already been born wacky by nature, his team this year -- with their 68 penalties in eight games -- would have had him wolfing down Death Valley's turf a long time ago.

The Tigers are ranked 117th in the nation in penalties, averaging a dreadful 8.5 per game, causing LSU fans -- notorious for their alcohol-induced manic episodes during games -- to rip gobs of hair from their heads or the heads of those around them almost nine times a game.  There isn't enough locks of love in the world to replace that type of hair loss.

For LSU to be successful in their bid to avenge that night of misery 298 days ago in New Orleans, they will have to play more disciplined football, limiting their penalties to at the very least half of their current average.

In their lone loss this season, a 14-6 defeat in the Swamp to Florida, LSU surrendered 83 yards to the Gators by committing eight penalties. The difference in total yards of offense that day was 37 yards -- Florida 237, LSU 200.

Give 83 yards to Nick Saban's opportunistic bunch, and you'll be forced to throw the ball the entire second half just to cover the spread.

Penalties put LSU on the brink of an embarrassing loss to the now seven-loss Auburn Tigers in September, before narrowly escaping the Plains with a 12-10 win. Miles saw his team commit nine penalties for 80 yards in the game.

In contrast, Alabama is ranked No. 24 out of 120 teams in penalties, averaging 4.75 a game with just 38 total for the year.  That's 30 less flags than LSU's 68, and that's 30 flags that will earn you a trip to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas instead of the BCS Title game in Miami.

In a game that pits two evenly matched teams against each other like that of Alabama and LSU, the margin of error, in this case penalties, is slim to none, with the winner usually trending towards none. 

Prediction:

Call me a Bammer, a homer, a crimson-colored glasses-wearing, kool-aid-drinking fool all you want, but in a game in which attention to the smallest of details will matter the most, I'll take "The Dictator" over "The Hat" every time.

Alabama 23, LSU 17.

 

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