Alabama Football: What We Learned From The Florida Atlantic Game


With each passing week we’ll learn more about the 2014 Alabama football team. We’ll spot trends as they emerge and puzzle at both the positive and negative outliers. In this weekly feature I’ll highlight a handful of the lessons this team is teaching me.

Amari Cooper is a target.

Currently and clearly Amari Cooper is a target within the Tide’s offensive approach to the game, and before long he’ll be a target for every defensive back in the conference. Long have some of us pleaded for Alabama coaches to simply pitch the ball to a talented receiver in one-on-one coverage so he can go to work. Funny how that’s a negative for some when the coaches actually do it, but I digress.

Cooper has an ever-increasing opportunity to break every receiving record the team keeps and I believe that Lane Kiffin has that targeted as one of his goals for the year.

Offensive line depth.

We all know the roster of players at the position, the merits of this most recent OL recruiting class, and we can brag to our rivals how deep we are at the position. But on the field we are actually taking strides to add heft to the discussion.

Bradley Bozeman took reps at center with the starters. Leon Brown and Alphonse Taylor have rotated at right guard. That’s seven players sharing time with first unit. Grant Hill did the same thing last year at right tackle and I promise Dominick Jackson is about to break through with the 1s as well. That gets the Tide up to nine starting quality linemen which bodes well for this season and beyond.

Defensive improvement.

It was hard to spot against an opponent like Florida Atlantic, but the defense was well improved over week one. Trey DePriest returning to middle linebacker brought stability and depth back to the ranks. Play calling and alignment was smoother. Eddie Jackson stabilized a leaky corner position and Geno Smith brought increased speed and cover ability to the secondary. This unit will improve step by step and the fans will be pleased with where it ends up.

Week one wasn’t so bad.

Did anyone even notice that West Virginia re-turfed their field with Towson over the weekend? Yeah, it was Towson but the Mountaineers did what good teams should do with lesser opponents – they clobbered them going away; 606 yards and 54 points in the shutout. It was not unlike last year’s Hokies rattling off six or seven wins after losing to the Tide to open last season. I bet by the end of the season, holding the bearded wonders to 23 points will look pretty darn smart.

Quarterback intrigue.

Just as we thought last week, the position is murkier after two games than even prior to the season. But there are some impressive options hiding in those shadows. Blake Sims was impressive with his poise and feet. Meanwhile, Coker’s touch was off but his ability to stretch the field was immediately evident. I personally am not a fan of a full on two-QB system, but I’m not entirely opposed to a change the pace type of package and that’s the evaluation I think the coaching staff is making at this time. Are we a short, controlled passing attack with a big arm package or vice versa?


Missing, one of college football’s most dangerous tight ends. Please contact Messrs.’ Saban and Kiffin should you come across him.

Check back next week as I continue to track these and new items as they emerge from the field. Also be sure to check out our podcasts as I explore and debate these topics and many more in a more animated format.