Did Alabama turn a corner last Saturday that will lead to the rest of the season being a hot one or are more cold days ahead?
Which Alabama Team Will Show Up Saturday?
By: Larry Burton
Alabama started the season like a dragster streaking for another title. Then the wheels fell off against Ole Miss and the engine misfired badly against Arkansas. But like the great crew chief he is, with a little retooling and some great motivation, last week they not only ran great, but far better than before the slump. So great in fact that this week the boy in Las Vegas made Alabama the odds on favorite to win the first college football championship with a playoff system.
So with things going so well, is it fair to ask the question, will the team get another flat tire along the way or is this a change that will last?
The running game and offensive line are two heads on the same monster. Against Ole Miss the Tide averaged 3.8 yards per carry, then bottomed out against Arkansas getting only 2.1 yards a carry, but against Texas A&M, talk about a rebound, Alabama tripled that that average to 6.6 yards a carry.
Special teams in those two bad games were a main factor in them being so bad. Kicker Adam Griffith who at times seemed unable to kick a can and usual sure handed Christion Jones who returned kicks, was coughing them up like a cat spitting hair balls. Last week Griffith was perfect and Jones not only sure handed, but ripped off a big 47 yard punt return to boot. The kickoff and punt coverage teams went from leaving truck sized holes for opponents to run through, to terrorizing returners.
The defense, now that jobs in the secondary are setting solidified, this defense has become a typical “Alabama Nasty” defense. Teams are only giving token attention to trying to run against this team. It’s become downright futile to even try. Even though Texas A&M isn’t know as a running team, still any SEC team that gets limited to 31 yards a game rushing is just downright scary. What A&M is known for however is their prolific passing game and even in games they lost, like the one at Mississippi State, they still threw for 365 yards. But against the Tide, that number shrank to 141.
These numbers are strikingly small compared to the numbers the defense were giving up earlier.
Lastly, early in the season, big plays on offense were rampant then they dried up for two games. Last week T.J. Yeldon broke off a 31 yard run, Sims himself had one of 43 in the running game. In the passing game, Amari Cooper returned to form with 140 total yards including one of 43 yards. Derrick Henry took one for 41 yards and six other receivers also pulled in passes so unlike other games earlier in the year, it was far from just the Amari Cooper show.
If indeed Alabama remains hot, they look unstoppable. But many thought that before they went cold against Ole Miss and Arkansas, so in the end, only time will tell. But one thing you can say with certainty is that it’s clear that this team has the talent to run the table, do they have the desire to make it happen? That is the question.