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STEPHEN’S REPORT: Focusing on the Performance of the Players

Cedric Mason- Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Alabama football returns to the win column as it shutout Louisiana-Monroe 34-0 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide won the turnover battle (2-1) and its pass rush was very effective. Alabama’s offense looked inept at times in the first half, but improved in the second half. Special teams was solid against the Warhawks as JK Scott and Adam Griffith excelled.

Yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine returns with grades for this week.

Special Teams–Overall [A]

JK Scott [A-]– He had one shank (18 yards) in the first quarter, but the sophomore rebounded well. Scott pinned Louisiana-Monroe inside its 20-yard line on four of six attempts.

Adam Griffith [A]– Saturday’s game was Griffith’s finest performance since last year’s opener against West Virginia. He made two field goals (40 yards, 35 yards) and executed four touchbacks on seven kickoffs, netting an average of 64.6 yards per kick.

Wide Receivers–Overall [B]

Summary: Alabama’s receiving corps suffered some dropped passes, but true freshman Calvin Ridley and sophomore ArDarius Stewart both recorded a touchdown reception.

Ridley led the group with four catches, totaling 38 yards. His touchdown reception came on a 15-yard completion off quarterback Jacob Coker in the second quarter. Stewart brought in three passes for 39 yards. His score came in the fourth quarter on a 16-yard reception.

Former walk-on Michael Nysewander even crashed the party with a touchdown catch.

The senior tight end caught a 21-yard pass for a score in the third quarter. Chris Black, Richard Mullaney and O.J. Howard all had two catches. Cameron Sims had three catches for 21 yards. Daylon Charlot popped up in the stat column with a grab in the fourth quarter.

Running Backs–Overall [B]

Summary: Nothing explosive happened against Louisiana-Monroe; however, Derrick Henry and Damien Harris were the only two backs that did not record a negative play. Henry totaled 52 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, while Harris had 23 yards on four attempts.

Kenyan Drake had the most productive outing, despite not registering a touchdown.

The senior led the group with 65 rushing yards (6.5 yards per carry) on 10 carries.

Defense–Overall [A]

Defensive Line [A]- Alabama’s defensive line found its pass rush identity against the Warhawks. It not only affected quarterbacks Garrett Smith and Brayle Brown, but it also finished plays.

Jarran Reed and D.J. Pettway each had a full sack. Da’Shawn Hand put in 1.5 sacks.

The Crimson Tide’s front line accounted for five quarterback hurries and allowed nine rushing yards on 31 carries. Louisiana-Monroe averaged 0.3 yards per carry against Alabama.

Linebackers–Overall [A]

Summary: Reuben Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton combined for three penalties, yet Alabama’s group in the second-level was solid. Foster led all linebackers with five tackles, including one for a loss. Hamilton assisted on three tackles. Reggie Ragland and Dillon Lee each had four tackles, while redshirt freshman Keith Holcombe tallied two stops.

Ryan Anderson, Denzel Devall, Tim Williams and Rashaan Evans all provided a pass rush. Anderson had two tackles and two quarterback hurries. Devall accounted for two tackles, one tackle for loss, two pass breakups, two quarterback hurries and a sack. Williams logged two tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks, while Evans had one tackle and a sack.

Secondary–Overall [A-]

Summary: The impact that defensive backs coach Mel Tucker has is evident.

Alabama’s defensive backfield suffered a few pass interference fouls and a couple of facemask penalties, but it did create two turnovers against Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks were held to 4.2 yards per completion and a 46.5 percent completion mark. True freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick led the team in tackles (7) including one for a loss. He was all over the field.

Senior safety Geno Matias-Smith and redshirt freshman Marlon Humphrey each had three tackles. Humphrey put in two tackles for loss and a pass breakup, while Matias-Smith recorded a critical interception in the second quarter off quarterback Garrett Smith.

Cornerback Bradley Sylve had three tackles and safety Laurence “Hootie” Jones had two stops. True freshman Ronnie Harrison collected a tackle, a pass breakup and an interception.

Offensive Line–Overall [C]

Summary: Pass protection is an area of concern for this group.

The right side of Alabama’s offensive line (Dominick Jackson, Alphonse Taylor) allowed a free rusher to Jacob Coker in the second quarter, resulting in an interception. Coker has shown at times that he can generate opportunities with his legs, but he is not dynamic in his mobility. Inconsistency was the story in run blocking. Alabama would flex some muscle on a couple plays, but could not sustain momentum. It blocked for 303 total yards on offense.

Quarterback Play–Overall [B-]

Jacob Coker [B-]– He is still a working progress, but Coker performed better in the second half. His accuracy and decision-making needs to be cleaned up some more, but Alabama’s receivers failed to bail him out on a couple of passes. Protecting the ball and himself are two things that Coker will study more on in practice next week.

Overall, Coker completed 17 of 31 passes (54.8 percent) for 158 yards with three touchdowns to one interception. Two of his three touchdown passes came in the second half.

Alabama now improves to 3-1 on the season. It eyes a showdown with Georgia next week.


Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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