Alabama vs Texas A&M: Final Thoughts.

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An often asked question in physics is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object and many media hype-sters  (my new word for talking heads) have billed this game between the Tide and Aggies as such an event. Assuming Manziel is the unstoppable force and the immovable object being the Tide defense, the answer will be revealed this weekend at Kyle field. I believe the hype-sters have done a great job of talking up the interest in this game over the airwaves but it isn’t going to be quite the electric game that it’s being made out to be in my opinion. I am looking for an Alabama defense full of energy and intensely focused on stopping A&M.  What happened last season is Alabama’s fault and they were caught off guard, coming in as 2 touchdown favorites after a grueling LSU game was perfect timing for the Aggies to jump on the defense early. I do not expect a replay of that game nor do I expect anyone on the Bama defense to be (or look) unprepared.

As far as the talk surrounding Tide’s offensive performance in the opener, that has been blown out of proportion…..just the way Saban hoped it would. While it may look like a struggling Alabama offense in game one at first glance, it was a far different approach than what we will see against A&M. AJ was not changing plays at the line as he usually does and the line wasn’t making adjustments that are usually made. That was by design and it all changes this weekend. Two games come to mind in which the offense took the same approach; year before last in the opener against Kent st. when Trent R. had only 37 yards rushing and the fan base had a fit and last season against Western Kentucky when the offense yielded 6 sacks and only rushed for a combined 103 yards the message boards blew up with posts like “Is the o-line believing their own hype? Are they overrated?”. In short; Tide haters hoping for an offensive repeat of the opener will be disappointed.

The Tide offense has a lot of questions to answer but the biggest question is how consistent the o-line can be this year. Through 2 games, A&M has given up a ton of yards on the ground to teams no where near as physical or talented as the Tide are and it will be apparent. Word around Tuscaloosa is that the line has a huge chip on their shoulders and they are set on having their coming out party on this stage.

The running backs have spent a lot of time working on finding the seam, hitting the hole and getting up field without so much dancing or hesitation. In the opener they were a little sloppy and left a lot of yards on the field and they can’t afford to have that type of issue in this game. Kenyan Drake is going to be the spark plug the run game needs Saturday and his energy/ big play ability is infectious. Creating a big shot of momentum with nice runs will bring the defensive backs towards the line opening up those deep passes and this offense thrives off those situations.

We know the best player on either side of the ball in the game is Bama backer Mosely and we know he’ll be spying Manziel to keep him in check. Look for CJ to be cut loose from time to time to provide blitz pressure while a second spy, likely Vinnie or Collins, waits for Manziel to take the the bait and run right into the waiting defenders. It takes years of being a pocket passer to improve to the point of being able to read a Saban defense and pick them apart from the pocket. For that reason you can bet Manziel won’t be throwing the ball from the pocket in a traditional manner all day, he’s just not experienced enough. He will be running around sooner rather than later and stopping him is the ball game. Saban knows Johnny is the difference therefore his staff knows it and the players know it…..cut the head off and the snake dies.
From everything I have been able to gather from around the team, the x-factor could very well be the young defensive linemen for Alabama. The Tide have a great group of starters along the defensive line but facing the tempo of A&M’s offense takes depth with several players rotating in and out so they can stay fresh. The young guns on the D-line eager to make their mark in college have the perfect stage to make the nation take notice and become   a huge part of this team’s identity. Coach Saban has modified his physical recruiting blueprint for certain positions like Defensive linemen due to the spread offenses everywhere and the staff are hoping it will pay off as soon as this weekend. If these young, energetic defensive linemen show enough maturity to play disciplined, they could even out the advantage that A&M’s offense creates by going at such a fast pace.

Last but not least, AJ has not been a major threat to make big throws while under pressure or on the run. If the line plays solid and gives him time, he will look like a different QB than the guy who played in week one. If the run game helps him out by being a threat to break loose then he will have even better odds. Cooper was not very happy with his first performance this season with a couple of drops, regardless of the quality of the passes, and he expects far more from himself. Don’t be surprised if Coop reminds us all why he drew so much attention last season and goes off to best his 136 yard effort from last season against the Aggies.

Leave your comments below and let us know what you’re score prediction is.

Prediction: Alabama     31

Texas A&M  17