TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It wasn’t pretty at times, but the No. 2 LSU (9-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) defense made enough stops to get its first win against No. 3 Alabama (8-1, 4-1 SEC) since 2011.
The Tigers received big contributions from its linebacking corps, with sophomore K’Lavon Chaisson having his best game of the season with 10 total tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and one quarterback hit. Juniors Jacob Phillips and Patrick Queen had seven tackles each, while Queen had a timely interception in the second quarter that led to an LSU touchdown just before halftime.
The Tigers managed only one sack for the game, but pressured Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa a number of times with five quarterback hits. The defense forced the Heisman hopeful to complete just over 50% of his passes. The 34 offensive points Alabama scored was their second lowest total of the season other than it’s 35-13 victory over Tennessee in which Tagovailoa went down with an early injury.
The first half defensive performance is one that, while not historic, was in some ways unbelievable considering the way Alabama has been able to score this season. The 13 points that the Crimson Tide scored in the first half was their lowest first half total on the season, and ended up being just enough as the Tide got going offensively in the second half.
Veteran leadership played a huge part in the lead-up to the game and during it, as senior defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence held the motivation to not lose in his final game against Alabama after losing in his past three seasons.
Lawrence finished with four total tackles, 0.5 sack and two pass breakups, one coming at a key moment on the Tide’s first drive when Tagovailoa had an open Najee Harris in the flat but Lawrence knocked the pass down.
“There was a lot of motivation for Rashard and he did a great job of leadership,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron. “So did K’Lavon Chaisson. I thought Tyler Shelvin played great in the middle, but that’s what it takes when it comes to a team (Alabama) like this.”
Junior safety JaCoby Stevens was another integral part of the Tigers’ defensive effort, contributing seven total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and one quarterback hit. Stevens felt the sting of an Alabama loss in his first two seasons, and knew just how much this victory meant for LSU.
“This was for the whole state of Louisiana,” Stevens said. “I know everybody from the state of Louisiana was tired of losing to Alabama. Alabama was joking that Louisiana is little brother. We’re not. This win is for the entire state of Louisiana.”