TUSCALOOSA, Ala -- With Alabama approaching its most physical game of the year, Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan knows its important to hit LSU in the mouth early.
"It's really important, especially being a home game," Pagan said. "We want to try and come out and step on their throats, break their will and try and end the game as quick as possible and let some of our freshmen play."
Pagan said the Tide wasn't particularly happy with its performance in the trenches last season and the team has something to prove upfront.
"Last year, well honestly, we don't really feel too good about how we played," Pagan said. "We kind of feel like they out-physicaled us last year, but this year is a whole new approach and we want to dominate all phases of the game."
Still, while the game will be physical, Pagan insisted it won't be dirty out of mutual respect.
"Oh yeah, we respect them to the utmost. We know it's going to be a dog fight and it's like that every year. We're just going to strap it up and play football."
Alabama's last drive against LSU in 2012 was a season defining moment. The Tide drove down the field and scored the go-ahead touchdown that sealed a victory.
Quarterback AJ McCarron vividly remembers the drive and what made it so special.
"We scored. It was a great drive," McCarron said. "We had a lot of guys injured that game. Coop (Amari Cooper/ankle. Started, but didn't finish) wasn't 100 percent and ended up not even playing most of the game. We had to play guys in positions that they hadn't played all year so we had no timing whatsoever in the passing game. It was rough. We turned the ball over and had that fumble. But it was a great drive for us at such a critical time in the game. For us to come out with a score was the difference in the game."
Cameras caught an emotional McCarron crying tears of joy following the game as time expired and he embraced his teammates and family.
But McCarron felt the moment was overblown and he wasn't shocked he got emotional.
"I mean not really. Everybody made a big deal about it," McCarron said. "There's been plenty people to have tears of joy after a big game. I've seen Ray Lewis, Michael Jordan and tons of people. I mean, but the media did what it does best, blow something up.
Wide receiver Kevin Norwood understood where the emotion came from.
"It was just an emotional win for us," Norwood said. "To see AJ act that way after the game, it was like, man, all the hard work that do around here is just paying off. All that emotion came out at once. You can't control."
Landon Collins committment
Tide safety Landon Collins said he still hears about his commitment to Alabama over LSU "all the time," and "I don't think that will ever stop."
Collins infamously chose the Tide over the Tigers on national television in 2011 with his mother by his side. Only his mother didn't agree with his choice and let her feelings be known.
"The best two teams. Number 1 and number 2 in the (2011 national) championship," Collins said. "I didn't know who to pick out of them. I made the best decision for myself and my opportunity and I'm doing great where I'm at now."
Collins is familiar with more than half of the Tigers' roster and is eager to compete against some of the players he grew up with.
"They're cheering me on," Collins said. "Some of them say, even though it's the home state and I got Alabama (gear) on, I still got 26 in my heart. That's all they say."
Collins said having teammates from Louisiana at Alabama with him has made the transition easier.
"You've got family coming, people coming from your town," he said. "It's like family coming with you. They know where you came from, what part of time, know the exact things you're thinking at any point in time in life. It's a great feeling having some of my boys come down, come back to Alabama and support."