- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here's what we learned from LSU's 38-17 loss to Alabama:
1. This team is full of what-ifs: Yet again, mistakes hurt a team that could have added to its win total Saturday. While Alabama certainly was the superior team, the Tigers shot themselves in the foot early with a careless goal-line fumble by fullback J.C. Copeland and a poor snap to quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Both fumbles were recovered by Alabama and led to a 10-point swing that didn't go in favor of the Tigers. Instead of possibly having a double-digit lead on the Crimson Tide early, LSU had to battle back, just like in previous losses to Ole Miss and Georgia. Careless turnovers plagued LSU in those games as well, leaving a lot to be desired with this team. LSU is younger than last year on defense, but costly turnovers have certainly hurt this team in the win-loss column. While this isn't the talented team that took the field last year -- or even the year before that -- we aren't sure if this should be a three-loss team. A lot of what-ifs remain after mistakes cost the Tigers early.
2. Getting away from Hill is a mistake: Running back Jeremy Hill is the X-factor in LSU's offense. To get the ball out of his hands when you want to run the ball is a mistake. But LSU decided to hand the ball to Copeland at the 2-yard line for what should have been an easy touchdown in the first quarter. Instead, he fumbled on just his 13th carry of the season. The 235-pound Hill, who entered the day second in the SEC with 922 yards and 12 touchdowns, carried the ball just 13 times against Alabama and rushed for a season-low 42 yards. The Tigers decided to get junior Terrence Magee involved, giving him nine carries. According to ESPN Stats & Information, LSU ran for 62 yards on designed runs in the first half, but had just 10 in the second, as the Tigers then abandoned the running game in the second half, where Hill carried the ball just four times.
3. The holes on defense are still obvious: There were plenty of missed tackles and Alabama was able to extend drives with 25 first downs and more than 33 minutes of possession. LSU's blitz was ineffective, as quarterback AJ McCarron threw for all three of his touchdowns against five-or-more pass rushers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Against the blitz, McCarron completed 9 of 13 passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns, according to ESPN Stats & Information. What's more is that the Tigers couldn't stop the run, either. Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon abused LSU's front seven, rushing for 133 of Alabama's 193 yards. According to ESPN Stats & Information, 100 yards of his yards came on runs inside the tackles. Entering Saturday, LSU had not allowed a team to run for 100 yards inside the tackles in a game this season. In the biggest game of the season, LSU's defense had four costly penalties that helped three Alabama scoring drives. LSU's offense didn't always help with field position, but LSU's defense showed that there are still a lot of holes that need to be plugged.