The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

October 31, 2012

Bama, LSU hoping 7 will be lucky number this time

(Continued)

Alabama's done that much better through eight games.

The Tide is tied with No. 12 Louisville for tops nationally in red zone efficiency, scoring on 34 of 35 trips with 26 touchdowns. Alabama is also No. 1 in that category on defense, allowing eight scores and six touchdowns on opponents' 15 drives that penetrated the 20.

LSU has managed to overcome rankings of No. 72 offensively in the red zone and 115th defensively — with one exception. Those deficiencies were costly in the lone loss to No. 8 Florida, which scored touchdowns on both its trips while the Tigers settled for field goals in a 14-6 defeat.

"It's execution when we get in the red zone," LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger said. "It's not like we don't want to score down there, we just screw up. We have to get seven when we get down there. Alabama has a very good defense. That's what they do. That's what Nick Saban wants. They have a very sound defense. The opportunity is going to be there for me and my receivers to make a big play. We have to capitalize on these opportunities."

Saban, the Tide's perfectionist coach, sets a goal of holding opponents to scores on only 60 percent of their red zone visits while getting points 90 percent of the time offensively.

So far, so good.

"You always want to score a touchdown every time you get the ball in the red zone," Saban said. "But I think red zone efficiency is very, very important to being successful."

Especially in big games featuring strong running games and two of the nation's best defenses, where there's little margin for error.

Alabama settled for field goals by Shelley in its three red zone trips in the national title game though Trent Richardson scored on a late 34-yard run in the 21-0 win.

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