Alabama Football Podcast: What We Learned From The Florida 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 highlight a handful of the lessons this team is teaching me.

No doubts on Sims

I was not an early adopter on Sims, but I’m officially on board now. Against Florida, Blake was allowed to explore several new facets of the playbook and he executed them to near perfection. His long ball was on target and he demonstrated an ability to attack the middle of the field.

He even hit receivers not named Cooper. In critical third and long situations, he didn’t wilt under the pressure – from either the defense or the moment. In fact, he sustained one long drive by completing two huge third down completions. He also remains a weapon with his feet and at times I was calling for him to run rather than attempt a pass.

The play calling Saturday was masterful and the offensive production was astounding.

All of this is not to say that he was flawless or that he doesn’t need to approach the job as if the competition is still open, but the page has clearly turned. Those still rooting for Coker ahead of Sims are not paying attention, or perhaps they have larger interpersonal issues to resolve.

The Fast Lane

While I may have originally missed on Sims, I was an early adopter on Lane Kiffin, which puts me one and one of those respective topics. The play calling Saturday was masterful and the offensive production was astounding. Under prior regimes, Alabama has gone multiple games without amassing 400+ yards passing and 600+ total yards, and when you consider that we’re doing this with mostly 12 and 21 personnel groupings, well, that’s impressive. (12 = one RB and two TEs; 21 = two RBs and one TE – meaning few 4 and 5 wide receiver sets).

Silent Cyrus

Alabama’s most productive corner is the one receiving the least accolade – Cyrus Jones. A converted wide receiver, Jones struggled at times last season, in between bouts with injury. However, this season, Cyrus has demonstrated an impressive resolve while also showcasing improvements in his game and incremental progression through the first four games. The intrigue here is that, for some, Cyrus is still branded as a weakness based on the West Virginia game and as such, is thought to be subject to a benching when Eddie Jackson returned. I just don’t see that happening.

I believe Cyrus continues to acquit himself well and I expect him to remain the starting lineup throughout the balance of the season, barring injury. With Cyrus, Eddie, and Tony all demonstrating ability, Mo Smith improving and Marlon waiting in the wings, the Tide appears set at corner for the balance of this season and beyond.

Stout Up Front 

Alabama’s offensive line is continuing to improve with each week. I expect this line to continue this trend and perhaps, by season’s end, quietly rival the heralded bunch from 2012.

Perfect Game, Perfect Timing

For Alabama, the Florida game is what I like to call a coach’s dream. Battle through a little adversity, blow out the opponent, demonstrate an ability to perform under pressure, while also allowing the coaching staff plenty of teaching moments – penalties, turnovers, a busted play in the secondary. This is a game from which we can build.

Manage the hype

As fans, we all have our favorite players (I certainly do), but we need to not let that cloud the bigger picture here – our desire to see the Tide win games. At the root of it – and from our disconnected seats in the stands or on TV – who cares if Sims starts over Coker, Cyrus over Tony, Ragland over Reuben, TJ over Derrick, or Ryan over Rashaun? If we love and trust Saban then let’s actually exercise that trust and celebrate the players that are actively contributing to helping the team win game.

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 podcast on Wednesday as I explore and debate these topics and many more in a more animated format.