BATON ROUGE – One of Nick Saban’s favorite players while coaching the Miami Dolphins in 2006 and ’07 was Jason Taylor, a six-time Pro Bowl defensive end before retiring.
And Taylor often took up for Saban, who fell from 9-7 in his first season to 6-10 before leaving for Alabama. Taylor’s son Mason was the No. 7 ranked tight end in the nation out of St. Thomas Aquinas High near Miami last year when he signed with LSU – over Alabama.
Taylor’s 2-point conversion catch in the first overtime gave No. 10 and 14-point underdog LSU a 32-31 win over No. 6 Alabama and Saban Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. A storm of fans flooded the field after the Tigers’ first win over the Tide since 2010.
Saban was asked about coaching sons of players he coached on his radio show Thursday night, such as former tailback Mark Ingram. His father Mark Ingram Sr. played at Michigan State when Saban was an assistant there in the 1980s.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban Is Off To Worst Start Since 2007
“I like coaching them when they’re on my team better than when they’re on somebody else’s team,” Saban said in reference to Taylor. “We tried to recruit Jason’s son here. LSU did a good job. They got on him early, and he’s going to be a really good player.”
Two nights later, Taylor caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels to give the Tigers a 24-21 lead with 1:47 to play. Alabama tied it 24-24 with 21 seconds to go on Will Reichard’s 46-yard field goal and took a 31-24 lead with the first possession of overtime.
Then it was Taylor time. LSU coach Brian Kelly called a run-pass option right play called “five” for No. 5 Daniels with Taylor as the primary receiver just across the goal line in the corner of the end zone.
“When they first called the play, my heart dropped,” Taylor said. “I’m not going to lie, but we practiced for this. Pressure is a privilege at LSU.”
Obviously, Taylor is well spoken like his dad.
Daniels hit a diving Taylor for the winning score.
“We had another play set up, but coach called a timeout,” said Daniels, who scored a touchdown to tie it at 31 on a 25-yard run.
“I want five on the move,” Kelly told Daniels. “It was a really good play we hadn’t used, and they hadn’t seen. When you get No. 5 out on the perimeter, you truly have a threat. So, I felt really good about the play.”
LSU And Brian Kelly Can Win The SEC Title
LSU (7-2, 5-1) took over first place in the SEC West with the win and can clinch the division and a berth in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 3 with a win at Arkansas (5-4, 2-3) and an Alabama win at Ole Miss (8-1, 4-1) on Saturday. Alabama (7-2, 4-2) has not had two losses this early in a season since Saban’s first season with the Crimson Tide in 2007.
“I think everybody needs to check their whole card and check what we need to do individually to improve your stock and finish the season the right way and achieve our goal of winning 10 games,” Saban said. “I like this team. I think this team is very capable.”
Alabama outgained LSU, 465 yards to 367, but an interception in the end zone by quarterback Bryce Young to Jerrick Bernard-Converse from the LSU 4-yard line in the first quarter was critical. So were three trips inside the LSU 26-yard line in which the Tide had to settle for field goals.
“We had a great drive until the pick inside the 10-yard line,” Saban lamented. “We had to settle for a lot of field goals and had way too many penalties (nine for 92 yards). We’ve got to give credit to LSU for making the plays that they made when they needed to make them.”
Kelly chose his best player for the last play. Daniels completed 22 of 32 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns around six sacks and rushed 18 times for 95 yards and the last touchdown. Young threw for more yards – 328 on 25-of-51 passing, but with just one touchdown and was not a rushing threat with 10 yards on four carries amid two sacks.
Brian Kelly Put The Ball In His Best Player’s Hands
“We’re not here unless our quarterback plays really well,” Kelly said. “He did some amazing things, in particular late.”
And Kelly and LSU have been more amazing together after a 6-7 finish in 2021. Kelly inherited a team that had but 39 scholarship players in a 42-20 loss to Kansas State in the Texas Bowl on Jan. 4. LSU wide receiver Jontre Kirklin had to convert to quarterback for that game.
Kelly brought in dozens of transfers and now has LSU on the verge of two SEC titles and a berth in the College Football Playoff. And he let it show after the game.
“I was emotional for our team because I know what we looked like in January,” said Kelly, who watched but didn’t coach that bowl as he was recruting players and hiring a staff. “And to see where we are today, that’s pretty emotional.”
Saban and Alabama, meanwhile, find themselve in rare air – out of the College Football Playoff race for just the second time since that began in 2014.
“I think the biggest thing is that we need to get rid of all the individual stuff,” outside linebacker Will Anderson said. “And make it a team effort. Make sure that they keep Alabama football the main thing.”