“I don’t know if I have been this disappointed winning a game. Maybe ever.”
That’s what Coach Nick Saban had to say in his post game press conference on Saturday. Alabama beat Western Kentucky 38-10 but had several issues that a coaching staff does not want to see before starting conference play.
The biggest issue that could be seen from the outside was discipline. The Crimson Tide had 12 penalties for 80 yards in the game and many of them came in key situations. Most of them came on the offensive end and forced the Tide’s offense into long-yardage situations. A delay of game in the third quarter took away a field goal attempt for Adam Griffith and forced Alabama to punt. Luckily, these mistakes came on a day when the Crimson Tide could afford them but things need to fixed.
After only being penalized four times in the opener, it was surprising to see the team deal with silly penalties like false starts and delay of games but at a certain point, you have to question the coaching staff. And with the “arguments” that could be seen on the Tide’s sideline, the head coach had to address that.
“I’m almost embarrassed that I didn’t do a better job for our team,” Saban said in his opening statement after the game.
The penalties were not the only disappointments from the home opener. The Tide dropped two interceptions and lost a fumble late in the game while trying to run out the clock. Early in the game, Eddie Jackson had a chance to fall on a fumble forced by Marlon Humphrey but the senior safety tried to scoop the ball up. He couldn’t handle the ball and it allowed the Hilltoppers to recover it, leading to a game-tying field goal. Saban pointed those out and said Alabama needs to do a better job in the turnover department despite winning Saturday’s turnover battle 2 to 1.
There were clear inconsistencies on the offense and it usually started with the offensive line. An Alabama offensive line is supposed to be better at blocking than just 3.2 yards per carry. They allowed two sacks and five quarterback hurries throughout the game. That is against a pretty good Western Kentucky team but if a Conference USA squad can do that, imagine what an Ole Miss defensive line can do.
With all of that being said, the Crimson Tide are still in great shape. Most of that has to do with the nation’s best defense that once again showed up on Saturday. The front line allowed just 23 rushing yards to the Hilltoppers and allowed just a 50 percent completion percentage to one of the nation’s best passing offenses.
Jalen Hurts missed a couple of throws on Saturday but the freshman stepped in and looked to have won the starting job with another good performance. It helped that Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart were there to help lead a lackluster offense.
Alabama is still undefeated and that’s what matters but when you are going to face a team that has beaten you two seasons in a row, you do not want to be facing these issues. I expect Nick Saban will be pushing his team all week in practice to make sure they are ready for the trip to Oxford next Saturday.
Caleb Turrentine is a columnist and contributor at Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He also does work for Alabama’s team page at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @CalebTurrentine.