Alabama offensive guard Anthony Steen and LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson squared off Saturday in an exciting matchup of NFL futures. Scouts from no fewer than 11 NFL clubs were credentialed for attendance Saturday for the Crimson Tide's annual battle with LSU: The Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. How did Steen fare against the Tigers' top defensive line prospect? Here is a detailed account of the matchup:
Steen had his way with Johnson in the opening quarter, handling Johnson especially well in the area of pass blocking. The Crimson Tide ran a few running plays that called for Steen to pull left and take on a different defender, but when blocking head up against Johnson, Steen opened the way for Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon to pick up several nice gains between the tackles. Steen drove Johnson off the ball on UA's second play from scrimmage, an 8-yard gain ran Yeldon ripped off just inside Steen's block.
Steen further established what proved to be a dominant half against Johnson in the second quarter, preventing the junior from getting anywhere close to a tackle in the running game and handling Johnson nicely in pass protection. On Alabama's second touchdown drive, quarterback AJ McCarron, running back Kenyan Drake and wide receiver Amari Cooper did much of the damage with Johnson completely absent from the action. Only once was Johnson double-teamed on the drive, with Steen's blocks serving the Alabama offense well one-on-one for the balance of the half. On a few plays, Steen reached a linebacker at the second level and left Johnson to someone else, but the two battled head to head almost exclusively.
Although Alabama's running game sputtered at times, it wasn't due to Steen's work on Johnson. The Crimson Tide worked the right side for most of it's rushing yards -- Steen's side -- and moved the chains when needed. On one play, Johnson lined up on center Ryan Kelly but stunted to Steen's side, but still could not escape Steen as Yeldon ran for a gain of seven underneath the stunt. ... On a touchdown drive to put UA ahead 24-17, Drake took a handoff right behind Steen's block on Johnson for a gain of 8 to the LSU 5. Johnson finally showed up in a positive way on the next play, driving Steen into the backfield and forcing Drake to adjust his cut on a run for no gain. Johnson didn't make the tackle, but made the stop possible with his penetration. Steen continued to stone Johnson in pass protection as well, giving up virtually no penetration.
Yeldon picked up 5 behind Steen on a power run to the LSU 37, then 10 up the middle on the next play as Steen drove Johnson off the line. That drive set up Alabama's fourth touchdown to go ahead 31-17, and Johnson began to show defeated body language. ... Steen delivered a crushing block on linebacker Lamin Barrow on a big fourth-quarter run, again off the right side, but missed a block on Barrow on the next play that resulted in a tackle for loss. Barrow, however, was flagged for facemasking. Johnson, meanwhile, came off the field for a few plays on the drive and did not re-enter until UA had reached the LSU 5. Johnson finished the game with just two assisted tackles.