Christian LaCouture didn’t get much sleep Saturday night. The rest of LSU’s defenders probably struggled with that, too.
“It was definitely frustrating,” cornerback Jalen Collins said.
The Tigers defense battled well with No. 4 Alabama for more than 59 minutes Saturday in an eventual 20-13 loss. They had allowed just 216 yards, shut out the Crimson Tide in the second half and forced a whopping seven three-and-outs.
How well were they playing? After LSU took a 13-10 lead with 50 seconds left, Tiger Stadium public-address announcer Dan Borne boomed over the speakers for fans not to storm the field.
What followed: Alabama’s nine-play, 55-yard drive that ended in a game-tying field goal to force overtime.
The Tide won in the extra period, and the Tigers are left with the fact that they blew a three-point lead in the final 50 seconds.
“We have a 48-hours rule after a game,” LaCouture said. “We just have to bounce back.”
No. 20 LSU (7-3, 3-3 Southeastern) travels to Arkansas (4-5, 0-5) on Saturday night in what’s expected to be adverse weather conditions — possible sleet and snow with temperatures in the low 30s at kickoff. That game would have a lot more meaning had the Tigers closed the deal against the Tide.
Alabama and quarterback Blake Sims covered those 55 yards in 47 seconds, getting out of bounds after completions or runs each time. LSU coach Les Miles said Monday that defenders had “calls designed to tackle guys in bounds.”
“We talked about the opportunity to tackle a guy inside, in that two?minute period,” he said. “We looked at kind of how we approached our containment, and there were a couple of plays that we could certainly do better.”
Sims was 4-of-6 for 50 yards and ran for 5 yards on the third play of the drive — a third down. On that play, LSU nickelback Jalen Mills came on a blitz, but Sims saw it and quickly eluded Mills. He then slipped another tackle, this one from safety Rickey Jefferson, and picked up the first down while getting out of bounds.
“It’s really tough,” Collins said about keeping players in bounds. “In the call we were in, we’re trying to keep everything in front of us. Take that short 5- to 6-yard route. Runs straight out of bounds. Kind of tough to defend.”
LSU’s secondary was in zone coverage early in the drive but switched to man-to-man when Bama crossed the 50-yard line, Collins said. That’s when the Tide hurt the Tigers the worst.
Sims completed passes of 22 and 16 yards to Christion Jones and DeAndre White. Mills and Jefferson seemed to have coverage on those plays.
Alabama’s quick tempo brought issues too, safety Ronald Martin said.
“Tempo’d us,” he said. “That’s something we never saw them do. They tempo’d us, and we were trying to get our calls in earlier and faster. Once we got our calls in, they were going a bit faster.”
“We ache today because we realize that there are ways that we could have finished first in that game,” Miles said.
The Tigers were so close that Borne issued that warning for fans to stay off the field — something Miles questioned during his Monday news conference. Fans, mostly students, rushed the field after the Oct. 25 win over Ole Miss.
“We need to make sure we can make the announcement at the appropriate time,” Miles said. “Starting it in the third quarter might be premature; starting it late in the fourth quarter might be a little premature.”