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By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Kaz's Korner

Can Alabama repeat? Can LSU rebound?

 

Last updated 8/31/2021 at 8:21pm



There’s no doubt that the Alabama Crimson Tide under Head Coach Nick Saban deserves to be the No. 1 team in the nation before their 2021 season begins on Saturday.

But one of the big question marks facing us preseason prognosticators is can the LSU Tigers rebound from their mediocre 5-5 record last season, after going undefeated and winning the national title the year before?

The answer could very well be “NO” to both situations according to two articles in Sunday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle.

There’s no better coach in college football than Saban, who has won an unbelievable six national championships since 2009, with only two coming in consecutive years (2011 and 2012). Of course, every other football program in the nation would love that “only”.

Don’t forget, Alabama won the national title last year and has a huge target on its back for 2021.And Saban had to replace most of his offense and his offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who took over the reins of the Texas Longhorns.

“Plenty of disgruntled Houston Texans fans—these days a redundancy—will proclaim to Saban that Sarkisian’s replacement at offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien, will automatically keep Alabama out of any serious title contention,” the article points out.

The article predicted that top-ranked Alabama slips up at No. 6 Texas A&M on Oct 9 which would mean that Saban finally loses to one of his assistants, Jimbo Fisher. Saban begins this season 23-0 against his one-time assistant coaches now running their new programs. Alabama opens its season Saturday at home against top-25-ranked Miami and is a 17 ½ point favorite.

Sunday’s story on LSU pretty much describes what the Bayou Bengals must do with the headline “Geaux Big or Geaux Home.” Head Coach Ed Orgeron’s future at LSU could very well be on the line if the Tigers don’t come back from last season with a vengeance.

After allowing a program-worst 34.9 points per game in 2020 and tied for 98th nationally with doormat Arkansas, Orgeron’s first move was to fire first-year defensive coordinator Bo Pelini--who had been fired as the head coach at Nebraska--and replacing him with Daronte Jones, who was the Minnesota Vikings’ secondary coach.

“We’re going to simplify stuff; we want our players to have their cleats in the grass,” Orgeron told the press. “We’re going to play a lot more zone—and we’re going to let our guys play the ball in front of us, and make plays.”

When fifth-year senior quarterback Myles Brennan broke his arm just before camp started, it threw the job to sophomore Max Johnson for Saturday’s opener at UCLA. But Orgeron is really high on true freshman Garrett Nussmeier from Flower Mound Marcus High School.

Last season got started on the wrong foot when LSU lost 44-34 to Mississippi State at Baton Rouge. It was one of the Tigers’ most embarrassing moments after the defense surrendered an SEC-record 623 passing yards and the Bulldogs’ quarterback K.J. Costello didn’t even close out the season as the 4-7 team’s starting quarterback. The Tigers will seek revenge Sept. 25 when they open SEC play at Mississippi State.

Besides getting rid of Pelini, Orgeron only has three assistant coaches remaining from his 2019 team and Orgeron repeatedly has missed his mark in his hires since.

There still are plenty of fans who rooted for the Chinese Bandits Defense from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. And they continue to demand great winning football from their Tigers.

In fact, plenty of longtime observers believe that if Orgeron falters in 2021, Louisiana-Lafayette’s Billy Napier will be ready to take over at a moment’s notice, according to the Chronicle’s article.

“There’s also the notion that LSU athletic director Scott Woodward will at least make a run at Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher just as Woodward did while in the same role at A&M when Fisher was at Florida State,” the article concluded.

KWICKIES…In preparation for Saturday’s season opener at UCLA, LSU relocated its football operations to NRG Stadium in Houston due to Hurricane Ida. The Tigers will practice three days at the Texans’ facilities and then leave directly for UCLA.

Texas A&M and LSU have been playing their annual series on Thanksgiving or the Thanksgiving weekend since 2013. But with Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC as early as 2022 and probably no later than 2023, A&M and Texas are expected to return to their traditional Thanksgiving weekend rivalry.

After failing miserably to sweep the Texas Rangers in Arlington last weekend, the Houston Astros take their 5 ½ -game lead over Oakland to the Left Coast again with series at Seattle Monday-Wednesday and then move on to play the slumping San Diego Padres.

Dallas Cowboys idiot owner Jerry Jones claims that quarterback Dak Prescott will be “good to go” for the season’s opener. So, if Jerry Jones says it, there must be some problem we don’t know about. However, ESPN’s ‘First Take’ show Monday morning predicted Dak will win “The NFL Comeback Player of the Year”.

JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Texans finally played an exhibition game against a team with its starting quarterback and most offensive and defensive starters. It just happened to be against the World Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their 44-year-old MVP quarterback Tom Brady, who moved the team to 91 and 94 first-half touchdown drives and then sat down for the remainder of the game which the Bucs won 23-16. The game was not as close as the final score indicated.

 

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