TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It seems that last year’s loss to LSU might be a motivating factor for Alabama football after all.
After coach Nick Saban and quarterback Mac Jones denied dwelling on the past during Monday’s media availability, both senior offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood and junior defensive back Patrick Surtain II embraced last year’s close loss to the Tigers in Bryant-Denny Stadium as a motivational factor.
“I know it’s a motivation factor for a lot of guys on the team,” Leatherwood said on Tuesday afternoon. “Not because of just the outcome, just because it’s a rivalry game. And just like y’all said earlier, it’s a very physical game and those are the games that we look forward to and we’re happy to get the opportunity to play them again.”
While the Crimson Tide has won eight of the last nine matchups, last season’s seemed to hurt more than most. No. 2 LSU travelled to Tuscaloosa and defeated No. 3 Alabama 46-41, and while the Tigers were ranked higher than the Crimson Tide, many viewed the win for LSU like it was an upset due to the fact it was the first time that the Tigers had toppled the Crimson Tide since 2011.
Following the game, videos surfaced from the LSU locker room of coach Ed Orgeron saying some unsavory things about Alabama. The words Orgeron used did not go over particularly well with Alabama fans and now seem to also serve as a sort of motivational factor for the team.
“It gives us motivation,” Surtain said. “We know what this game means, but we also look at it as another game. We don’t try to hype the game up that much. We just try to go out there and compete, go through our routine and just finish the game off.”
While the game is between Alabama and LSU is almost always a very physical one, this year sees an entirely new set of circumstances. Due to a recent outbreak of COVID-19 tests among the Tigers, Saturday night’s game is beginning to be called into question. Should the game be cancelled, it is unlikely that the game could be made up due to LSU already having a make-up game with Florida scheduled for Dec. 12.
According to Leatherwood, he and his teammates are still preparing on Tuesday as if the game is still happening as originally scheduled.
“We try not to pay attention to things like that,” Leatherwood said. “We try to prepare in the same way that we would for any other game, you know what I mean. We all look forward to this game, just like any other game. We’re looking to go out there and dominate for 60 minutes no matter who we play.”
While LSU might have started off 2-3 and are in danger of forfeiting Saturday’s game due to the coronavirus, Surtain still emphasized that no matter the circumstances, the Tigers always have a talented roster that can potentially surprise even top teams like the Crimson Tide.
“There’s NFL talent across the board,” Surtain said. “So, you know you’ve gotta prepare right and understand that there might be guys out there that are just as talented as you. You’ve just gotta prepare and you’ve just gotta play every down like it’s your best play.”