Sep 1, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes linebacker Derrick Webb (1) chases the advance of Colorado State Rams running back Kapri Bibbs (5) in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Buffaloes defeated the Rams 41-27. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama moved to 2-0 this past weekend, toppling sixth ranked Texas A&M on the road. Now, the Tide makes its debut for the 2013 season at home in Bryant-Denny Stadium the Colorado State Rams (1-2), led by former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain. The Rams got their first win of the season last week 34-17 over Cal-Poly after falling 30-27 to Tulsa and 41-27 to rival Colorado. Colorado State is outmatched and outmanned in this one, so the keys to victory are pretty obvious for the most part.
Affect the quarterback
One of the things Alabama set out to do last week was affect Johnny Manziel with pressures and unfortunately did not do a good enough job in that. The Tide needs to get back to that and really put pressure on Rams quarterback Garrett Grayson, as CSU’s offense is very QB driven. The offense that Alabama fans will see from CSU will look similar to Alabama’s, as they try to stay balanced, but Grayson is their leader and he’s been the most consistent part of the team thus far. Grayson has completed 55 of his 98 passes this season for 606 yards, four TDs, and two INTs. He spreads the ball all over the field as well, as no receiver has more than nine catches on the team and six have at least seven catches. CSU will attempt to keep things balanced as they have two runners, Chris Nwoke and Kapri Bibbs, who average over five yards per carry. But the Alabama defense will obviously try and put a lot of heat on Grayson to force him into mistakes. Alabama needs to get back to putting pressure on the QB, with Ole Miss coming to town next week as well.
Air it out
Last week AJ McCarron showed just what he could do when the Tide offense opens it up. In CSU’s season opener the Rams defense allowed Colorado’s Connor Wood to throw for 400 yards and three scores, including an 82-yard touchdown. So McCarron will have opportunities to make big plays in the passing game. There is no question Alabama will try and keep things balanced and run the ball with a multitude of backs, but CSU will likely stack the box like all teams try to do to stop Alabama’s running game. McCarron will have the opportunity to put points on the board with big passing plays, and he needs to take that opportunity.
No complacency for Alabama
Complacency has been a very common theme with Alabama. Nick Saban has preached the entire off season about not being satisfied. Coming off a huge win on the road, teams tend to get complacent when facing outmatched opponents the following week. Alabama can’t do that regardless of the opponent. Complacency can bite any team, no matter how great or how weak it is. Top 25 teams have already been toppled this season by outmanned teams. This being the first game inside Bryant-Denny this year will definitely help to get the players fired up despite coming off such an exhausting game last week. Jim McElwain has been preaching all week to his guys that they can’t be intimidated and will most certainly come in fired up to play hard. Their coach returns to his old stomping grounds, where he won two national championships with the Tide. When facing an overmatched opponent complacency is really the biggest enemy and Alabama has to defeat that enemy early.