Alabama prepares for top-15 showdown with LSU

Alabama head coach Nick Saban has a tough task ahead when his Crimson Tide go on the road to take on the Georgia Bulldogs.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama football team returned to full practice and game preparation following the first bye weekend of the season. The Crimson Tide put together an hour and 30 minutes of work in shells on Monday afternoon at the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields.

The Crimson Tide used its bye week to focus on fundamentals in preparation for the final stretch of the season. Alabama will return to action this weekend when the Tide meets No. 15/14 LSU Tigers this Saturday, Nov. 5, at Tiger Stadium. The two SEC West rivals are set to kickoff at 7 p.m. CT on CBS with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Allie LaForce covering all the action.

The Tigers enter Saturday’s game with a 5-2 overall record, including a 3-1 mark in conference play. LSU also had a bye last weekend, and is one game behind the rest of the conference after its game against Florida was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew. The Tigers are led by interim head coach Ed Orgeron, who is 3-0 this season after taking over for Les Miles on Sept. 25.

Alabama owns the all-time series advantage, 50-25-5, and is currently riding a five-game winning streak that began with the Tide’s 21-0 victory over the Tigers in the 2012 BCS National Championship. Most recently, Derrick Henry rushed for three touchdowns and the Tide defense limited LSU to 182 total yards in a 30-16 win in Tuscaloosa last season.

Nick Saban met with the media on Monday afternoon. Following is his opening statement:

“We got a lot of things done last week in practice. I felt like our team made some progress. Now after a weekend off, it’s always a challenge to get refocused on what you need to do to get prepared for the next game, for the next challenge and obviously this is a tremendous challenge for us to play what is arguably an undefeated team to me since they have been undefeated since their new coach Ed Orgeron took over. They have a very good team. They are playing very well right now with a new energy and new enthusiasm. There have been a lot of very good games between these two teams over the years and (this matchup) has developed into a rivalry game of sorts because both have been ranked over the last eight or nine years, most of the time in the top 10. This is a real challenging game for us. We will find out who we are, what we are made out of and how we can compete under very difficult circumstances. Ed took over this team, and they have played extremely well over the last three games in all phases of the game, on offense, defense and special teams.

“They have some really outstanding players on both sides of the ball. Leonard Fournette is probably one of the most dynamic running backs that has played college football for a while. He is playing extremely well right now, and when guys come in form, there is not a lot of drop off. The quarterback has played really well and created a lot of balance for them in the past couple weeks. They have a couple really talented receivers that are very good players, and they have a big, strong, physical offensive line that does a great job of executing their running game for them.

“When you get to the defense side, it doesn’t really get any better. They are in the top 10 of a lot of categories and one of the most difficult teams to score on.  They are very good up front. Arden Key is a very good rusher. Kendell Beckwith is a very outstanding linebacker who leads in tackles but also runs a shell out there and does a really good job.

“This is probably the most athletic, talented secondary that we have had to play against all year long. They have really good specialists on special team – good returners; good kickers; good punter – and they have good team speed, so they are always really good on special teams, so this is a really outstanding team and it’s a great challenge for our team. We are anxious to go back to work today and get back at it with our players.”

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