As long as the Tide can boast coaches and players like this, the future is quite bright indeed.
The Sky is Not Falling in Tuscaloosa
By: Larry Burton
With the final polls still days away, what’s clear is that Alabama will be one of the top teams in the country. While the Tide didn’t reach their ultimate goal this season, they still achieved much, but the real story, now that the season is over and the dust has settled, is to focus on just what they accomplished and the players they accomplished it with.
Blake Sims is to be commended for his attitude, perseverance and effort this year but he was not a fifth year senior quarterback. He was a fifth year athlete who spent far more time as a running back than a quarterback. He accomplish what he did was quite a feat, but all of us who know football knew all year long just how low his ceiling was. His great stats were mostly run after catch yards from screen passes.
As much as we should salute Sims for accomplishing as much as he did, we should also commend coach Lane Kiffin for taking a guy who obviously looked horrible in the spring A Day Game and coached him up as far as he did. Sims was no show pony quarterback by any stretch of the imagination, but we rode him to the playoffs and he served us well until this last game.
And for those who criticize coach Kirby Smart, Alabama did not lose the game against Ohio State because of a bad defense, despite the 35 points they gave up. They lost it because the defense was exposed to far to many chances by an explosive offense. With Alabama continuously going three and out, Alabama had done to it, what it had been doing to teams all season long.
For much of the season, Alabama was one of the nation’s leaders in converting third downs and continuing drives. As coach Paul “Bear” Bryant used to say, it’s hard for a team to score that doesn’t have the ball. And for much of the season that’s what Alabama did best. It kept the opposing offense on the bench and limited the number of drives they had to try and score.
You can only give a team as talented as Ohio State is on offense so many chances before they put points on the board.
Just as coach Kiffin did a wonderful job with what he had at quarterback, coach Smart did a wonderful job with what he had to work with in the defensive secondary. All season long they looked for answers at cornerback and with the injuries and such that they had, he did a great job. This was a championship caliber team without a lock down corner and a national sack leader, that alone is worthy of a heck of a lot of praise.
With Alabama having just got a commitment from one of the nation’s leading cornerback prospects, the sunny days are indeed ahead for that secondary and with the nation’s best recruiting class coming in yet again this year, the shelves will be fuller than ever at almost every position on defense and on offense.
Though the fans were looking at this past season through Crimson colored glasses, this was not a championship caliber team. This was a rebuilding year with too many key positions being manned by folks who while giving it everything they had, just weren’t championship caliber players at their positions. This was a team that over achieved to get where it got and it was able to do so by a coaching staff that is still intact and ready to try again next year with people with higher ceilings in those positions that hurt the Crimson Tide this year.
The fact that they made it as far as they did is proof of why Alabama will always be in the conversation of national playoff talks.
The sky is not falling in Tuscaloosa and in fact this season is proof that the best days are yet to come.
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