Through the first six games of the year the Crimson Tide have been ever so close to playing a seemingly elusive complete, well balanced 60 minute football game and it finally came Saturday evening against SEC West rival Arkansas. Alabama has played record setting games through the air passing the ball but fell short running the ball in previous contests. The Tide have come out and sported two, hundred yard rushers but struggled to get going through the air and they have played stellar defense only to see the offense sputter. It has been clear that this year’s Crimson Tide football team has all the tools and experience to get back to the championship game if they could only play together as a team and do it consistently on offense and defense……enter the Hogs of Arkansas.
Alabama played it’s first complete game of the 2013 season at the expense of the Arkansas Razorbacks and gave us a really good look at what this team looks like when it all comes together for 60 minutes. 52-0, the final score last year and this year in the Tide/Hogs matchup was the end result for a team in Alabama looking to make it to the grand finale in Pasadena for a third straight Natty and a team in Arkansas rebuilding with a new head coach, new schemes & new mindset. From the first offensive drive to the last, Alabama hit on all cylinders with running & passing games being very effective, efficient and productive and the entire team ended the game with no penalties , no interceptions, no sacks allowed and allowed no points scored on them.
This was the Tide team that we all thought we’d see when the season began and at this point, it’s probably best that they didn’t start the season playing this well because it has in fact been the mistakes, the doubts and the attention to detail that has forced these guys to work extra hard to clean up the problems. Alabama is now playing together as a team, bonding on the field and learning how to depend on each other rather than compete against one another and that is the recipe for success. The most encouraging aspect of this weekend’s events as the fact that this isn’t a finished product yet, Alabama still has some concerns in the secondary and with Vinnie possibly out for an extended period of time following injury, those areas will remain a work in progress.
- As we alluded to in the pregame, Kenyan Drake is becoming more & more dangerous out of the Tide backfield and if he stays on this current curve, he’ll end the year as one of the most productive backs in the nation per carry.
- On a team full of so much talent and depth, freshmen have a harder time making an impact in their first year but Derrick Henry and OJ Howard both recorded the first touchdowns of their Tide careers and did so in impressive fashion. Those looking for the end of the Tide’s historic run to begin to near are out of luck.
- No penalties, no sacks allowed, no points allowed, no interceptions thrown & no fumbles are the result of a grueling week of practice on fundamental football.
- AJ didn’t jump off the stat sheet numbers wise but he played one of his best games of the year. The ball was consistently put in the passing windows and he ended the game void of any interceptions or temper tantrums. He commanded the offense without outwardly pointing any fingers at teammates regarding mistakes like he should, which will only make him a better player going forward.
- CJ Mosely is cementing himself as the best linebacker to ever play for a Saban coached team which is as impressive a statement as one can make considering the talented backers he’s put into the NFL. CJ was once again his dominant self against the Hogs and he is doing a really good job transitioning into that “Alpha-Dog” leader that the team needs.
- AJ seems to be looking towards Cooper more over the last couple weeks and the results are not surprising, just a long time coming. Coop will have to continue to be given the opportunity to make big plays as the competition gets tougher if the Tide is going to three-peat.
- The Tide Offensive Line also recorded their best game to date with a stellar performance in the trenches, opening impressive running lanes and keeping AJ’s jersey clean.
It looks as though fate has a plan for young Landon Collins and his opportunity to contribute this season with the suspension of HaHa giving him starting reps at a safety spot he hadn’t played much of to the injury of Vinnie on the very day HaHa is reinstated. Collins is a rare talent but Vinnie was the quarterback of the DB’s and made all the defensive calls, that will now likely fall on HaHa’s shoulders while Collins is thrust into playing time at a more natural position.
With the power seemingly trying to shift within the SEC following some of the hyped up East teams taking losses this weekend, the Tide remain the most consistently dominant squad in the league and are only improving. LSU still presents an intense rivalry as does the barn and those teams entire season will be dependent upon beating Alabama at this point. For now the Tide will focus at the task at hand with the Vols heading to Title-Town this coming weekend following an upset win over South Carolina. Tennessee sure has suffered some embarrassing losses but beating Spurrier and SOCAR will have them playing with a ton of confidence and the Tide will have to stay focused on the moment and not get caught up in the upcoming LSU game.