Jalen Hurts steps up in crucial situations in win over LSUBy Matthew Speakman | 11/04/2017 11:49pm
Jalen Hurts had 183 yards passing and 44 yards rushing against LSU.
When No. 2 Alabama needed him, Jalen Hurts stepped up.
For the second-straight year, Hurts made crucial plays against No. 19 LSU. The sophomore quarterback scored two touchdowns in the 24-10 victory to keep Alabama undefeated.
“Jalen (Hurts), I thought, played a really good game,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “(LSU) played an eight-man front on us all of the time, and made it really hard for us to run the ball. They ran people at the quarterback a lot to try and take him away...Some of his scrambles on third down were real key in the game.”
Last season, it was his running that hurt LSU. This season, it was was a combination of running and throwing. Hurts went 11 of 24 for 183 yards and a touchdown. He also added 44 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground.
While it wasn’t his best game in terms of numbers, Hurts made a lot of big plays scrambling and throwing on third down. He extended important drives to keep Alabama’s defense off of the field.
“We kind of got out fast, made some plays,” Hurts said. “They still kind of hung around. We expected that. We expected a four-quarter game.”
Three touchdown drives defined the game for Alabama and Hurts. The first two came in the first quarter to give Alabama a 14-3 lead.
The third came at an important time after LSU started shutting down Alabama’s offense in the third quarter.
Hurts started the drive with a fifteen yard run. Then, four plays later, he found wide receiver Cam Sims in a tight window to convert on a big third down. Two plays after that, he hit wide receiver Calvin Ridley for a 22-yard gain to get Alabama inside the five. The next play, he ran it in for a 3-yard touchdown.
Ridley said Hurts’ performance gave the whole offense a boost in confidence when things weren’t going Alabama’s way.
“That lets us know that we definitely can do anything,” Ridley said. “It helps the passing game. When they stop the run, we definitely have the receivers and the quarterback to pass.”
Hurts and Ridley needed to have big games because of the running game’s ineffectiveness. The Tigers stopped Alabama on the ground for most of the night by loading the box. Alabama averaged 3.2 yards per carry and only had 116 yards rushing.
Running backs Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris combined for just 72 yards.
“We just couldn’t click like we normally click,” Scarbrough said. “The click wasn’t there.”
Alabama gets a physical matchup with LSU almost every year. Both teams are defined by their ability to slow down the run.
It wasn’t totally surprising to see LSU shut down the Crimson Tide rushing attack. Still, Saban knew that Alabama did just enough on offense to get the win.
“We didn’t have a lot of consistency on offense during the game,” Saban said. “I thought we made plays when we needed to make them. We scored enough to win.”
Alabama’s offense wasn’t perfect, but it made the plays to defeat LSU for a seventh-straight time. The Crimson Tide had a better game overall against LSU this season than it did last year. As Alabama moves to another tough game against Mississippi State, Ridley thinks the offense has made strides since last season.
“We definitely are better than last year,” Ridley said. “We can move the ball. When we get the calls, we just have to execute the plays better, and play better ball.”