NCAA Football News

LSU Football: Will Crowd Noise Be Difference-Maker for Tigers vs. Alabama?

Attention LSU fans: You matter. 

The atmosphere for Saturday's game against Alabama will be majestic. Epic tailgating festivities and ESPN's SEC Nation will be taking place on campus. 

But a reminder to fans contemplating that extra jello shot or game of flip cup: The Tigers will need your help. Passing out before the game begins does not help the Tigers' cause. 

A hostile crowd could be the deciding factor of an upset victory against Alabama. 

LSU's 10-7 upset victory against Ole Miss took place in a rabid Tiger Stadium. Just ask Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, who played his worst game of the season in Baton Rouge two weeks ago. 

"It's a crazy atmosphere. This is the craziest place I've played. Actually, it (the noise) did factor (into third-down plays)," said Wallace, per Trey Iles of The Times-Picayune

Wallace was clearly out of his element, as he finished a paltry 14-of-33 for 176 yards, one touchdown and an interception. It is hard for quarterbacks to concentrate when stadiums are boisterous. But they are not the only ones that struggle with the sound. 

The toughest position to play in a hostile environment is offensive tackle. Rarely do tackles see the ball when it is snapped, particularly on passing downs. They normally listen to the snap count from the quarterback, but that is near impossible when over 90,000 fans are screaming.  

Some offensive tackles use their peripherals to see when the offensive guard moves to know when the ball is snapped. Others choose to react to when the defense moves. Either way, they are at a disadvantage not having direct vision of the ball when it is snapped.

This is important information for LSU fans to know for Saturday's game against Alabama. Crimson Tide true freshman left tackle Cam Robinson, a 5-star recruit in the Class of 2014 out of West Monroe, Louisiana, could have a tough time on Saturday. 

Robinson and right tackle Austin Shepherd have been solid performers this season. Yet Robinson, who is recovering from an ankle sprain, could be limited. Head coach Nick Saban has been pleased with the true freshman's progress, per Cecil Hurt of TideSportsExtra.com: 

Nick Saban on radio show: OT Cam Robinson is "coming along better than expected" and has been cleared by medical staff to play vs. LSU.

— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) November 7, 2014 

Dealing with the crowd noise will be an issue for Robinson and Shepherd. But it becomes much worse if Saban has to reshuffle his line. 

LSU defensive ends Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter played their best game as a duo against Ole Miss, combining for 18 tackles and three tackles for loss. Their lone sack came as a byproduct of the crowd noise.

"That's the whole point of us hyping up the crowd, so the offensive tackles cannot hear the snap count," said Rasco.  

Rebels starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil suffered an injury against the Tigers, which forced a reshuffling of the offensive line. This forced inexperienced freshman Daronte Bouldin into action at right tackle, which turned ugly quickly for Ole Miss. 

Ole Miss is lined up in a five-wide receiver set, which leaves only the five offensive linemen to protect Wallace. Linebacker Kwon Alexander (KA) walks up to the line of scrimmage, which sets up a situation to where five Rebels have to block five Tigers. Hunter (DH) is lined up over the left guard, Davon Godchaux (DG) over the center, Quentin Thomas (QT) over the left guard and Rasco (JR) against Bouldin. 

Hunter said after the game this defensive call was made because of the new Ole Miss personnel. 

As the ball is snapped, Bouldin is still in his stance at right tackle. This allows Rasco to get an early jump against him:

From another angle, it is clear Bouldin has yet to move despite Wallace having almost received the shotgun snap:

Rasco begins to blow Bouldin backwards as he finally reacts. Godchaux and Thomas switch their rush lanes on a "loop" stunt, while Hunter and Alexander continue their rush:

Rasco blows by Bouldin and now has a clear lane to the quarterback. The rest of LSU's defensive line does a great job keeping rush-lane discipline to prevent a Wallace scramble up the middle. Hunter uses his speed and thin frame to begin to get around his block:

Hunter and Rasco meet for a sack of Wallace in the backfield. 

LSU's pass rush, with the aid of Tiger Stadium, can be spectacular. Alabama's offensive line, however they may line up, will have a tough task ahead of them.

Alabama is better equipped than Ole Miss to replace missing parts. If Robinson cannot go, Shepherd could move out left and Grant Hill can replace him. That lineup could get the job done, but using a new group in the midst of a circus is not ideal for Saban. 

The Crimson Tide need to prevent clear passing downs. If they can establish a dominant running game, that will silence the crowd. 

Also to their advantage is quarterback Blake Sims, who is superb at escaping pressure and extending plays. His natural athleticism and ability to find creases to scramble for first downs is phenomenal. The Tigers have struggled stopping elite runners at quarterback, including Mississippi State's Dak Prescott and Auburn's Nick Marshall.

LSU will need some fantastic coverage from the secondary, as well. If receiver Amari Cooper and the rest of Alabama's weapons get open quickly, the pass rush will not matter. 

Nevertheless, offenses struggle to operate in hostile environments. LSU head coach Les Miles understands that, which is why he made a rally cry to fans earlier this week, per Ross Dellenger of The Advocate:

Miles to fans this week: "Stand regularly and make noise repeatedly." #LSU

— Ross Dellenger (@DellengerAdv) November 6, 2014

If the LSU faithful do just that, it could be enough to upset the Crimson Tide. 

 

Stats, rankings and additional information provided by cfbstats.comESPN.com and LSU Sports Information. Recruiting information provided by 247Sports.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

10 College Stars Most Likely to Shine in NFL Next Year

As the calendar turns to November, we’re turning into the final quarter of the 2014 college football season. Players and teams are jockeying for position in the chase for the initial College Football Playoff, conference titles and even bowl eligibility.

All the while, NFL coaches, scouts and front-office types are watching. Up close and from afar, they’re taking notes and making evaluations for next spring’s NFL draft. The real fun will start following the season, when the postseason all-star game/NFL combine circuit begins, but it’s fair to take a look at the potential draft class and wonder how they’ll do at the next level.

Obviously, plenty can (and will) change between now and the moment the team with the first pick in the NFL draft is placed on the clock, but it’s fun to see how players will fit in as professionals next fall.
Here’s a look at the 10 college stars most likely to shine in the NFL next fall (with help from Bleacher Report NFL draft expert Matt Miller's "Top 50" Big Board). 

This isn’t a referendum on players’ long-term careers, but rather those who are most likely to have immediate success. Players like Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston aren't here simply because it can be very difficult for a rookie quarterback to thrive early on (especially if they are high draft picks and placed in tough situations with rebuilding teams).

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