Alabama football goes back on this weekend, a friendly scene for this year’s group as it’s 2-0.
Its offensive line blocked for a combined 881 yards against Wisconsin (502) and Georgia (379), with 427 yards coming from its ground game. The Crimson Tide has averaged 36.5 points per game on the road and is a perfect four of four in red zone opportunities.
Defensively, Alabama has allowed an average of 116.5 rushing yards with one touchdown. Wisconsin and Georgia did not have much success against this year’s secondary, completing just 52.9 percent on throws for 334 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Texas A&M will present the Crimson Tide with an interesting challenge this week. The Badgers and Bulldogs were heavy run teams that mixed in short passes behind it. The Aggies, on the other hand, have a spread offense that loves to toss the ball around under head coach Kevin Sumlin. Yours truly of TDAM provides the five keys for Alabama to win over Texas A&M.
Alabama’s five keys to victory
- Consistency from the offensive line
Summary: Alabama is now six games into the season, regardless of having three new starters on the offensive line. It showed flashes of dominance at home against Ole Miss and Arkansas, but much of its work has come on the road. Offensive tackles Cameron Robinson and Dominick Jackson have struggled at times this season. Pass protection is crucial against the Aggies. Running back Derrick Henry should be able create opportunities against Texas A&M’s front seven. Opponents’ have rushed for an average of 4.57 yards per carry against the Aggies. Alabama cannot afford to hurt itself with pre-snap penalties inside a hostile Kyle Field.
2. Jacob Coker: Continue success on the road
Summary: He has only been away from Bryant-Denny Stadium twice, yet Jacob Coker has performed better on the road. Coker’s jersey has seen dirt only twice in road games, allowing him to complete 70.3 percent of his throws for 403 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers. The senior has shown maturity in smoothly working through reads, giving him chances to target favorable match-ups. Evidence of this came against Georgia on passes to sophomore wide out ArDarius Stewart and true freshman Calvin Ridley.
Both times Coker surveyed the field well.
3. Alabama’s defensive front: Affect QB Kyle Allen
Summary: A statement that is easier said than done; however, Alabama must affect Texas A&M signal-caller Kyle Allen. The sophomore enters this weekend, averaging 254.8 passing yards per game. Allen’s protected the ball well, posting a ratio of 13 touchdowns to just two interceptions. Pass protection has been a strength for the Aggies as Allen has been sacked 13 times through six games, an average of 2.2 sacks per game for an opponent.
4. Alabama secondary: Limiting big plays from Texas A&M wide receivers
Summary: Alabama held Texas A&M to 141 receiving yards 19 catches last season. Its secondary tackled well in space, giving up 7.4 yards per reception. The Aggies return a core group of wide outs, led by Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones; however, true freshman Christian Kirk has been the huge surprise. He is averaging 103.8 receiving yards per game.
Establishing position, fighting through blocks and facing the ball are three areas Alabama will be tested on this week. Texas A&M runs quite a bit of its passing offense on screens, quick slants and deep post patterns. Aggies’ offensive coordinator Jake Spavital wants to create balance, but expect him to be pass happy. Alabama has forced eight interceptions this year.
5. Efficiency on third down/red zone opportunities
Summary: Alabama has been in the red zone four times on the road, three of which resulted in touchdowns. Its offense has to score in the red area and put pressure on Texas A&M.
Offensively, the Crimson Tide has been one of the more lackluster teams this season. It has converted just five of 23 attempts, netting a 21.7 percent mark. Alabama head coach Nick Saban wants to keep Texas A&M’s offense on the sideline as often as possible. For it to happen, Alabama must consistently work itself into manageable situations on third down.
Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.