BATON ROUGE, La. — Trent Richardson’s biggest play of Saturday’s loss at LSU was also effectively his last.
The Alabama running back suffered an unspecified knee injury that wasn’t considered serious but not worth risking a return after catching a 1-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter.
“He just had a sore knee,” Alabama coach Nick Saban. “But the longer he played, the stiffer it got. So then we didn’t play him much.”
Mark Ingram then carried the load of the rushing game after suffering a minor knee injury of his own that kept the Heisman Trophy winner out of the first two games of the season.
Ingram’s effectiveness was sporadic as he ran for 97 yards on 21 carries.
Richardson has yet to miss significant time at Alabama although he regularly wears a walking boot after D.J. Fluker stepped on his foot at an early-season practice. His final stat line included six runs for 28 yards with a long of 22. His touchdown reception was his only catch and followed two straight runs for no gain from the 1.
There were no public burnings of Saban dolls before Saturday’s game as there were two years ago in his first return to Baton Rouge.
Evidence of LSU fans’ distaste for the Tigers’ former coach was still tangible.
As he exited the field following the loss, a banner was hung from the upper deck: “TAKE THAT O’SABAN BIN LYIN.”
Sheriff deputies followed as Nick and his wife, Terry, were serenaded further when entering the postgame news conference with chants of “Tiger bait!”
“It was not like it was (in 2008),” Saban said. “I thought there was a lot of class by everybody around here in terms of how we were treated.”
LSU no huddle
Among the several gadgets Les Miles pulled out of his playbook against Alabama was a super-speed no-huddle offense on the opening possession.
But unlike the reverse and fake punt, this one wasn’t as successful.
Running three plays in 59 seconds, the Tigers netted just 3 yards.
All three plays were Stevan Ridley runs, with the last designed as a pass that never opened up before Dont’a Hightower crushed him into the sideline for a 4-yard loss.
McElroy streak snapped
Quarterback Greg McElroy’s streak without an interception came to an end in the first quarter, when Kelvin Sheppard intercepted a tipped pass on Alabama’s second possession.
The Tide quarterback had not thrown an interception in 124 passes, dating back to the Sept. 25 Arkansas game. It was the sixth-longest streak in Alabama history. McElroy holds three of the six longest.
Last season’s Alabama/LSU game was marked by several LSU injuries that varied in nature and severity.
By the end of Saturday’s first quarter, the 2010 edition appeared destined to repeat. There were three injury timeouts for LSU in the first quarter and five overall.
McCullough, Jones start
There was some question about the starter at right guard, but Alfred McCullough earned his third straight start against LSU.
Fluker is the regular starter, and his injured groin made significant progress since going down against South Carolina four weeks ago.
Saban said Wednesday that it could be a game-time decision as to who would get the nod in Baton Rouge.
Phelon Jones also got the start in place of an injured regular. The transfer who left LSU in 2008 made four tackles in his return to Baton Rouge.
Looking back on it, Saban said he should have seen it coming.
With LSU facing a fourth down at the LSU 40, the Tigers pulled off a fake punt, and it worked to perfection. Punter Josh Jasper took the snap, sprinted straight to the left side of the line and ran 29 yards untouched for the first down.
“They have a tendency to do that kind of thing,” Saban said. “We probably should have been a little safer there. … That’s not really on the players. That’s on us.”
Ultimately, it didn’t hurt the Tide on the scoreboard, because Jasper’s 45-yard field goal sailed wide left four plays later.