Thursday Thoughts on Alabama Crimson Tide Football
By: Larry Burton
What have we learned after one game with in column for most SEC teams? More surprises like last year seem to be the answer. South Carolina isn’t the great team in the East we all thought and Texas A&M may have been struck by quarterback lightning twice. Alabama may have been picked by everyone to win it all the SEC, but they sure don’t look like champions at this point of the year.
But the only thing I can guarantee is that teams rise and fall and today’s heroes can quickly be tomorrows zeros and likewise, it may be unwise to give up on South Carolina just yet. As for everyone else staying how they looked last week, once the creme puff schedule is over, things will start clearing up soon as to just who has what for the finish.
As for Alabama, who was picked to win by 27 points, fans are alarmed that it took four field goals to beat a very down and out West Virginia team. But for all the Chicken Littles out there, I assure you the sky isn’t falling, at least not yet. Eddie Jackson is coming back from his injury and that will help the defensive backs who looked suspect against the Mountaineers. But if that’s not enough for the defense, they also get back Trey DePriest to call the front line plays and give that group the leadership that seemed lacking last week.
With DeAndrew White down for a while, Chris Black could be the recipient of lots of extra opportunities to show the talent that’s been waiting to explode. In the quarterback battle, Blake Sims is in the clubhouse with one over par and now were going to see how Coker does. He has a lot to accomplish to beat Sim’s one over par score.
The one over par is because he threw no touchdown passes and had one pick, made some timely throws and then made some bad ones, but he did win and he moved the chains even though they had to settle for field goals four times. How Coker do is not the story, he and the Tide will do good in this game. What is important is does he do better than Sims?
Saban wants to have this quarterback battle settled before the team takes on Florida, so these next two games should settle it. Best of luck to both players.
In another matter, last season in every game, Kenyan Drake has a higher yard per carry average than T.J. Yeldon, but he never got to be the first string because he had a higher turnover rate and he had some dog house issues. Because of that, nobody made a big deal over who got the most carries.
I wonder if Derrick Henry will keep up his yard per carry average over Yeldon? If he has no fumbles and keeps his nose clean as he always seems to do, then will fans on message boards and radio call in shows start a “running back controversy”?
In case you didn’t glance at the box scores,
So if both stay fumble free and both still do well in blocking and receiving duties, this is something to continue to watch, not just the yardages and the averages, but the fan’s reaction. This could actually be a more interesting battle than the quarterback duel because it will go on all season long.
By the way, in case you missed it, former Alabama running back Dee Hart, who was buried in the depth chart here, graduated and transferred to Colorado State to reunite with coach Jim McElwain, Alabama’s former offensive coordinator. In his first game there, he ran 22 times for 133 yards and a 6.32 yard per carry average. That was also higher than Yeldon’s average.
Lastly, as if the players on Alabama’s team need a lesson in staying on the straight and narrow, new recruits hear the tale of the “Fallen Star” from the 2012 class. T.J. Yeldon, Landon Collins and Eddie Williams were the three five star recruits from that class. Two of them are prepping for an NFL career but Williams will likely be watching his fellow five star recruits sign their NFL contracts from a jail cell.
One bad decision made in a scant few seconds and a star fell and burned out forever.
The defensive secondary could have sure used him this season, but Williams didn’t just let the team down, he hurt the entire school with negative publicity, he gave his family much angst and lastly, he ruined his life and his future.
Saban’s message is just not that you can ruin your own life with a bad decision, but that if you’re a real team player, if you’re a real brother and friend to your teammates, then you don’t let them make that kind of mistake. It’s accountability to yourself AND to your friends. When Williams made that mistake, he was with other players who could have, should have, stopped him. All of those players paid a very steep price for not stopping these events. So for Tide players, sometimes it’s not just what you do, but what you stop from happening, that makes the difference between shining and falling stars.
Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter