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Problems That Plagued Alabama Fixed?

Are Alabama’s problems fixed for the remainder of the season or just today? That is the question.

Problems That Plagued Alabama Fixed?

By: Larry Burton

In the last two games several problems plagued Alabama. They were inconsistent offensive drives, turnovers, stupid penalties at bad times and tendencies the team, but mostly the quarterback had, that were figured out and exploited by opponents. The running game had also run into tough times. This week they seem to have found a way to fix those things in a huge 59-0 win.

Alabama scored in each of its first eight drives and may have continued to do so except that it was obvious to everyone that Saban had called off the dogs by then. It was done with a mixture of almost equal passing and running and it seemed that whatever the Tide wanted to do on offense, they did.

Gone were the obvious tendencies that Alabama’s quarterback Blake Sims had developed. In this game instead of relying almost solely on bubble screens and passes less than five yard down field, Sims showed both the inclination and ability to throw medium routes that in turn opened up the running game. And instead of being a deer in the headlight in the pocket, Sims showed off his running ability his is capable of and burned the Aggies for one touchdown and in turn kept the defense off balance for most of the day.

Alabama’s willingness to throw deeper and more medium routes kept the defensive secondary from creeping up toward the line to support the run. In the last two games, the fact that opponents could and did do that was one of the reasons that the running game never got going. With Sims hitting deeper routes, they could now longer cheat up toward the line and had to respect his ability to make those passes.

And a good passing game fueled a great day running the ball. Sims himself and running backs TJ Yeldon and Derrick Henry all had a good day carrying the ball. Yeldon ended the day, mostly the first half, with 114 yards and an 8.8 yard per carry average. Henry turned in another 70 yards for a 7.0 yard per carry average and Sims had 54 yards himself for an astonishing 13.5 yards per carry including a highlight film run of 43 yards for a touchdown.

Turnovers that cost Alabama one game and almost another suddenly vanished, but with a little luck. Sims did throw one pass directly into the defenders hands for what could have / should have been a pick six touchdown, but like the other four balls Sims has thrown into the hands and chests of defenders, they too were dropped.

Just as noticeable was the complete lack of penalties. That is a hallmark of a Nick Saban coached team and clearly the message was both listened to and adhered to by the team this week. The lack of penalties kept drives on offense from stalling and giving teams a second chance when they were on offense.

Also not heretofore mentioned was a letdown on special teams play. Placekicker Adam Griffith was perfect even it was only one for one, the great Scott continued his punting prowess and kick and punt returners did not cough up the ball as they had done in the past two games. Kickoff and punt coverage was also great and Reuben Foster put on a clinic for stopping a return man.

Also not yet mentioned was the superior play of a defense that really didn’t give up a big play the whole game. They held the Aggie offense to just 31 total rushing yards and 141 receiving yards, both season lows for the team. Kirby Smart had a masterful game plan and it was excellently carried out. This was an Alabama defensive show worth of any in recent years.

Of course fans won’t know for sure that all these problems are truly fixed until they show that they can do this on the road against good Tennessee and LSU squads. Then they’ll have to show that they are indeed fixed when playing SEC elite teams Mississippi State and Auburn.

But at least for now, at least for this week, they appear fixed but like any team that’s just finished a great game, only time will tell and in the SEC, there’s nowhere to hide, so questions will be answered.

Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter

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