Alabama surprises LSU with game plan
Wait a minute. Louisiana State Coach Les Miles is supposed to be the riverboat gambler. His nickname is "The Hat," as in Mad Hatter.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban's nickname is "The Nick-tator." He is calculating and conservative. Yet, Saban caught LSU off guard when he decided to put the offensive game plan in the hands of first-year starting quarterback A.J. McCarron. Trent Richardson, the team's All-America tailback, was used almost as a decoy.
McCarron passed 19 times on first down. He ended up completing 23 of 34 attempts for 234 yards in Alabama's 21-0 win over LSU in Monday's BCS title game.
McCarron earned the game's most outstanding offensive player award.
"I was very thankful, first of all, about it," McCarron said of the game plan. "We've been leaning on No. 3 [Richardson] all year. He's our workhorse. I mean, he's our main guy."
Richardson ended up with 96 rushing yards but 34 of those came on a late touchdown run after the game had been decided.
Saban said he figured LSU would load the defensive front to stop Richardson so he asked offensive coordinator Jim McElwain to pass more on first down to keep the Tigers off balance.
"It was about what we needed to do to win the game," Saban said. "And I believe in trusting and believing in players. And I've always trusted A.J., and I believe in him. And I don't mind putting the ball in his hand so he has the opportunity to make those plays."
-- Chris Dufresne in New Orleans
Photo: Nick Saban. Credit: Andy Lyons / Getty Images