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Alabama players want to finish the season strong after bye week

Evan Neal gets lined up against Florida
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics/ SEC Media Portal

Through eight games, Alabama football reached some heights it had in 2020.

Bill O’Brien has the Crimson Tide at No. 2 nationally for scoring offense (45.9 ppg) and 10th for total offense (494 ypg).

RELATED: Former Alabama player wants Crimson Tide to hang 60 points on LSU

Alabama is allowing 20.6 points per game on defense, but players are starting to improve.

The Tide is off this week; however, the second half of its season begins against LSU. Coach Nick Saban and the athletes are taking this opportunity to rest and recharge while improving some aspects. Some do not believe Alabama has enough talent to hang with Georgia, but others still feel that Saban has a team to win the national championship. On Tuesday, Evan Neal and Cameron Latu brought back a term in player interviews that made Alabama dominant in 2015 and 2017. The Crimson Tide has its attention on finishing the year strong.

“We need to continue to finish,” Neal said. “We have to work on finishing, and I feel like that’s a big thing for us. That is an emphasis pushed by leadership, especially this week. We are viewing this week as a workweek, but we are also taking time to recover ourselves. The work still comes first, so we have to finish.”

Neal, a junior, has been finishing plays all year at left tackle. The 6-foot-7, 350-pounder has allowed one sack in 206 pass attempts. He has a team-high 15 knockdown blocks and is a semifinalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award.

Neal made the Watch List for Lombardi and Outland honors. He has started in 32 games (four years) at three different positions for Alabama.

RELATED: LSU faces Alabama next week, but does not have enough players to practice or scrimmage

Latu, a junior, has five touchdown catches at tight end. He said the Tide has to control what it can on the field.

“We try to finish a game on a show note,” Latu said. “We did that against Tennessee, but pre-snap penalties are what we need to work on.”

Neal also wants the offensive line to improve its pass protection.

After allowing 13 sacks of Mac Jones in 2020, sophomore Bryce Young has been dropped 17 times. He’s been hit several times in the pocket, and it has led to him scrambling more. Neal said the offensive front has to get on the same page with communication.

Finishing with a national championship is important to Alabama. Hopefully, the team carries the mindset against the Tigers.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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