Alabama-LSU grades: Defense, Hurts’ running ability fuel Tide win

For the second season in a row, Alabama's defense bottles up Leonard Fournette and the LSU offense.

| 8 months ago
(Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images)

(Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images)

Alabama-LSU grades: Defense, Hurts’ running ability fuel Tide win

Alabama Crimson Tide 10, LSU Tigers 0

Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from Alabama’s 10-0 Week 10 road win over LSU:

Alabama Crimson Tide

Quarterback grade: Jalen Hurts, 65.4

This game was a really interesting look at Hurts’ development so far, and it showcased what he needs to work on, and what he’s already very good at. He had struggled under pressure coming into the game, and on the 10 dropbacks where the LSU pass rush was able to get to him, he completed just one of the six passes he attempted, with the pass going for negative yardage. However, with the game tied up at 0-0 in the fourth quarter, Hurts was able to used his legs to break the game open, scoring the game’s only touchdown on a 21-yard quarterback scramble. By the end of the game he had racked up 114 rushing yards, forced four missed tackles, and saw 50 of his yards come after contact, leading to an excellent 90.1 rushing grade.

Top offensive grades:

C Bradley Bozeman, 83.0

OT Cam Robinson, 73.9

OT Jonah Williams, 73.5

TE O.J. Howard, 70.6

WR ArDarius Stewart, 68.5

Tackles do their job in this one

While Hurts struggled under pressure, offensive tackles Cam Robinson and Jonah Williams did their part to slow down LSU’s excellent edge rusher Arden Key. Combined they allowed just three quarterback hurries all game long, keeping Hurts fairly clean off the edge. Robinson stood out as a run-blocker, too, with several key blocks in the running game, and he was joined in that regard by center Bradley Bozeman, who had another strong outing in the middle of the offensive line. Tight end O.J. Howard caught just one pass for minus-3 yards, but finds himself on the top-five list thanks to a 76.4 performance as a run-blocker, including several key blocks on the edge.

Top defensive grades:

CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, 87.3

S Ronnie Harrison, 85.5

ED Tim Williams, 84.7

ED Ryan Anderson, 84.2

LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, 83.7

Williams and Anderson bring pressure off the edge

When they are at their best, there really isn’t a more dominant pass-rushing duo than Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson. Anderson rushed the passer just 24 times against LSU, but still managed to rack up two sacks, three hits and two hurries. Opposite him, Williams registered a sack and four hurries on 21 pass-rushing opportunities. Williams’ speed off the edge is a major problem for offensive tackles, and once again we saw him use this to his advantage, initially heading outside on a speed rush before cutting inside as the tackle tried to compensate.

LSU Tigers

Quarterback grade: Danny Etling, 57.9

This was the game many people expected from quarterback Danny Etling. His flaws have been evident throughout the season, and there comes a point where the LSU coaching staff needs to accept that he simply isn’t an effective downfield passer right now. In this game he completed just one of the nine passes of 10 yards or further downfield he attempted. This game was close until late in the fourth quarter, so it’s somewhat confusing as to why the Tigers didn’t look to focus on the short passing game more.


Top offensive grades:

C Ethan Pocic, 82.4

G Will Clapp, 81.0

G Josh Boutte, 76.0

WR D.J. Chark, 68.6

RB Leonard Fournette, 60.7

No room for Fournette to run

As was the case in last year’s matchup between these two teams, the LSU offense really struggled to get anything going in this game, but it was frustrating that it was often one block that was blowing up a run, and at times all three players on the interior offensive line made some nice blocks. They manage to average 5.7 yards per carry on three runs between the left guard and center, but of the team’s 55 rushing yards, 27 came after contact. A year ago Leonard Fournette was given an average of less than 0.1 yards per carry before contact. It wasn’t quite that bad tonight, but he still was afforded just 1.0 yards before contact per carry by the Alabama defensive front.

Top defensive grades:

LB Dwayne Thomas, 90.2

CB Tre’Davious White, 77.9

LB Duke Riley, 75.6

S Jamal Adams, 74.1

CB Donte Jackson, 73.3

Star safety Adams has an up-and-down game

LSUs highest graded defensive player coming into this game was safety Jamal Adams, and while he showcased why at points, it was more of an up-and-down performance than many were expecting. The bad came in the form of three missed tackles, which are uncharacteristic from him, given that he had missed just two all year coming into the game. The good, though, came in the form of three tackles resulting in a defensive stop, taking his total on the season to 26. Adams isn’t afraid to get in the mix near the line of scrimmage, and he had an impressive leap over traffic to get in on a tackle at the goal line, too.


| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

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