LSU believed in its offensive game plan coming in. They certainly believed they were going to be able to score on No. 1 Alabama's defense.
But everything the Tigers threw at Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide defense was stifled.
LSU thought they could run the ball to the edge and throw quick passes to playmakers like sophomore receiver Justin Jefferson on the outside coming into in the game. They couldn't do either, or really, anything at all.
The Tigers finished with 196 total yards (184 passing, 12 rushing). Junior quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked five times and was sent running for his life a multitude of other times.
With Burrow's constant harassment at the hands of Alabama's defensive line — primarily nose tackle Quinnen Williams, who finished with 10 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks — LSU constantly shuffled its offensive line hoping to find the right unit. It didn’t help.
"Our offensive line was getting beaten one-on-one," said LSU coach Ed Orgeron, who went as far to say they were dominated up front. "We had max protection. Those guys were beating us. They stunned us. We tried everything we possibly could — go full wide, max protection. We just got beat.
"We just didn't get help from the offense. We couldn't get anything going, and you could feel at the end guys got discouraged."
Sophomore center Lloyd Cushenberry said it came down to execution and reiterated Orgeron’s comments about losing one-on-ones.
“[It was] embarrassing the way we played, but we’ll be better next week,” he said. “We’ve got to win our one-on-ones — that’s on us. As an o-line, that’s on us. We’ll be better next week, I promise.”
The only player to have success against Alabama’s defense was Jefferson, who finished with six receptions for 81 yards. Burrow completed passes to Jefferson deep over the middle, but it was infrequent due to the pressure created by the Alabama defensive line, limiting LSU’s ability for downfield shots.
“I just thought we had the right shot plays in,” said senior tight end Foster Moreau of LSU’s game plan coming in. “I thought we had the right run schemes. I thought we could really hit him hard. I know there were a couple examples of that on big plays we had. We just couldn’t string enough together.”
The offense tried to make adjustments, according to Burrow, but he says the team wasn’t as tough, physical, and as ready as they needed to be to play Alabama.
“The whole offense needs to get better,” Jefferson said. “There’s no pointing fingers or anything. Our whole offense needs work harder than we have been doing and fix the stuff we need to fix and do better.”