AJ McCarron [A+] – After his stellar performance against Chattanooga, McCarron is one virtuoso performance away from possibly leaving New York City with the Heisman Trophy. Against Mississippi State, Alabama’s offensive line struggled with protecting McCarron. In the matchup with the Mocs, they redeemed themselves. McCarron wasn’t sacked in the game and he had time to scan the field. After going 18-32 (56.2 percent of passes completed) passing against the Bulldogs, he was back to his efficient self against Chattanooga.
Eight different receivers caught at least one pass from McCarron against the Mocs’ secondary. In being an honored senior, one must play like an honored senior. McCarron truly played like it today. As far as statistics go, he went 13-16 (81.2 percent of passes completed) passing for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
Offensive Line [A+] – The Crimson Tide responded to the challenge of Mississippi State last week by punishing Chattanooga on the ground this week. After totaling 383 yards of offense against the Bulldogs, Alabama’s offensive line helped the team get back into the 400+ (435 yards) yards of offense range this week. The offensive line did a great job of dominating in the trenches and helping the backs as a whole total 251 yards and four touchdowns. Outside of yardage, Alabama’s offensive line contributed to 22 first downs and a 57 percent third down conversion rating (4-7).
Running Game [A+] – Though TJ Yeldon missed action tonight because of an ankle injury, Alabama’s running back core still put on a good performance for the fans. Kenyan Drake led the way with 11 carries for 77 yards (7.0 yards per carry) and a touchdown. Derrick Henry had six carries for 66 yards (11.0 yards per carry) and a touchdown. Chris Black only totaled one carry, but it was a 31-yard burst to the endzone for a touchdown. Dee Hart amassed five carries for 25 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and a touchdown. Blake Sims and Altee Tenpenny decided to get in on the action. Combined, they had eight carries for 37 yards. Even McCarron ran the ball once for 15 yards. It was a collective effort by the running game today and though Yeldon was missed, Alabama got the job done nonetheless.
Receivers [A] – It was mentioned earlier that eight different receivers caught a pass from McCarron against Chattanooga. Kevin Norwood led the receiving core with four receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. Not to be outdone was Amari Cooper. He totaled three receptions for 42 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown reception from McCarron. Christion Jones and Kenny Bell combined put in four receptions for 37 yards. Chris Black, DeAndrew White and Corey McCarron together had three receptions for 23 yards.
Defense [A+] – Alabama’s defense captured its third shutout this season against the Mocs. The Crimson Tide did an excellent dominating at the point of attack from the start. The defense surrendered 175 yards of offense (93 rushing & 82 passing) to Chattanooga. The Mocs did sustain one drive against the Tide, but Nick Pollard’s 49-yard field goal was blocked by A’Shawn Robinson.
The Tide’s defense forced a sack and gave up just eight first downs, four third down conversions (4-14) and forced two Mocs’ turnovers. Landon Collins and CJ Mosley led the team with a combined 14 tackles. Trey Depriest had the interception and Ryan Anderson had the sack of Terrell Robinson. Jonathan Allen had a forced fumble and Eddie Jackson recovered it for the Tide.
Special teams played a role in this game for Alabama in the form of Christion Jones. Jones returned two punts for 75 yards, including a 75-yard return for a touchdown in the second quarter. The special teams strike gave the Tide a 21-0 lead. While most Alabama fans are used to seeing Cody Mandell punting the football, he didn’t have one punt in this contest.
As many were already aware of, this was a tune up game for the Crimson Tide. Mississippi State was the wakeup call and Chattanooga was the scrimmage game to prepare Alabama for what could be one of the most exciting and memorable Iron Bowl matchups of all-time next week against Auburn. The Tide will have to execute to perfection. Defensively, Alabama must take away the run and make the Tigers one-dimensional.
For Chattanooga, it will end its season with an 8-4 (6-2 in conference) record. At this point, the Mocs are tied for first in the Southern Conference (FCS) with Samford. They gave it a valiant effort against Alabama, but they were severely undermanned and need a little bit more talent.
As for Alabama, the wins continue. The Tide is now 11-0 (7-0 in conference) record and have one game left between them and the SEC Championship Game. They took care of business against Chattanooga, now they have to go into the Plains of Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium and take care of the Tigers.