NEW ORLEANS -- Alabama has a second-chance opportunity in Monday night's BCS championship game against LSU, and Crimson Tide tailback Trent Richardson knows what must be different from the first meeting.
"Score," he said bluntly. "We've got to score."
Alabama has produced at least 21 points in 30 of its last 31 games dating back to its 2009 BCS title year, but the exception is glaring. In the biggest game of the 2011 regular season, the Tide managed just two field goals in a 9-6 overtime loss to the Tigers on Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa.
In the six occasions when Alabama got to or beyond LSU's 30-yard line, the Tide had five possessions that produced a net of minus-22 yards, which includes a pair of penalties. The remaining instance was Eric Reid's infamous interception of Marquis Maze with 11:07 remaining in regulation.
"That was obviously a frustration for us," Tide offensive coordinator Greg McElwain said. "I think that has a lot to do with not only what we didn't do but obviously what they did. I can't say enough how much respect we have for them as a defense, and when you look at the lack of plays against them down in the red area from the accumulation of a full season, it kind of tells you how good that defense is."
Though round one went to the Tigers, LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis believes his unit will have to be more effective against Richardson on Monday. Richardson rushed 23 times for 89 yards and had five receptions for 80 yards in the first meeting, giving him 169 of Alabama's 295 total yards.
LSU won despite amassing only 239 yards.
"Certainly when you have a player gain that many yards, you can't say we did a real good job," Chavis said. "We kept him out of the end zone, which was the biggest thing, and we played well when we had to, but there were some plays where we were a little bit out of position. When we met with the team first thing Monday, I took responsibility for that because there were some things that I didn't prepare well enough for and didn't prepare them well enough for."
Richardson's final three carries of the first matchup netted a loss of 9 yards, and the Tigers are hoping to build on that.
"Hopefully our defensive line will get more penetration," Reid said. "That way, he won't make it to the second level. If we can stop him in the backfield, that would be great."
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron completed 16 of 28 passes for 199 yards against LSU, but he was intercepted by cornerback Morris Claiborne late in the third quarter and that set up the tying field goal for the Tigers early in the fourth. McCarron feels he did a good job taking care of the ball and getting it to the right players, but he said he didn't play with a lot of emotion.
During a 38-10 win at Florida earlier in the season, McCarron started pumping up Alabama's crowd but was told by head coach Nick Saban to settle down.
"After the LSU game, Coach Saban told me to play with emotion again, and that he missed that," McCarron said.
McElwain was pleased with the way his offense competed against a very good defense, but he doesn't want to dwell too much on the first LSU game in prepping for the second.
"Obviously we made some mistakes in the first game, and those were things that you always try to correct no matter what game it is," he said. "Then you move forward. I think we spend too much time in the past sometimes.
"We've got to look forward and get ready to just play this game with whatever we have."
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...