Alabama vs. Ohio State: Good, Bad, and the Ugly


Alabama’s 2014 Championship run came to a very disappointing end in the New Orleans Superdome for the second straight year, as the Tide fell to fourth ranked Ohio State 42-35 in the CFB Playoff Semifinals (Sugar Bowl).

Alabama looked like it was going to run away with the game after streaking to a 21-6 lead in the first half, but the Tide’s defense allowed 28 unanswered points in the second half and a late comeback attempt was squashed when the defense allowed the longest play of the season, an 80-yard touchdown run by the Buckeyes. It was the cap to a mistake filled game in which one of the top rushing defenses in the country allowed the first 200+ yard rusher in the Nick Saban era.

It was a truly heartbreaking end to what looked like it may become a Cinderella season for Alabama and unlikely record-breaking quarterback Blake Sims.

Several Alabama stars will have to make decisions on whether or not they want to return for their senior seasons (Landon Collins, TJ Yeldon, Amari Cooper, Reggie Ragland, and Jarran Reed among others), a new quarterback must be broken in, and the Tide defensive staff must go back to the drawing board heading into 2015.

The Good

Punter JK Scott capped off his stellar freshman season with potentially his finest performance of the year. Scott routinely flipped the field when the Alabama offense bogged down and kicked the longest punt of his season, a 71 yarder in the first half. It is mind boggling how incredible this youngster is and he is only a freshman so he will likely just get better! My money is on Scott already being the best punter in the country and we should expect nothing less next season.

Derrick Henry made his presence felt for the first time last year in the Sugar Bowl with an incredible performance. With TJ Yeldon still nicked up after his late season knee sprain, Henry earned the start and averaged almost eight yards per carry in the game. He ran for 95 yards on just 13 carries with a score. He also added two catches for 54 yards.

TJ Yeldon was also effective in his few touches, carrying the ball 10 times for 47 yards and a score. Why Alabama didn’t feed Henry and Yeldon more in the game is a question that will be asked for months. Yeldon and Henry had a chance to reach the 1,000 yard mark in this game for the season and with more touches likely would have.

Henry ends the season with 990 yards, 11 TDs while Yeldon ends it with a career low 979 yards, 11 TDs. It will be interesting to see if Yeldon returns for his senior season. If he did Yeldon, Henry, and the returning Drake would undoubtedly be considered one of the best backfields in the country.

Reggie Ragland turned in yet another stellar performance in his breakout season, delivering several slobber knocking hits. Those big hits ended up also ending his game, as he suffered concussion in the second half. Ragland is supposedly mulling over a potential jump to the NFL and I think I speak for all Alabama fans in saying that we hope he decides to return for his senior season where he would likely be the center piece of the Alabama defense.

Junior cornerback Cyrus Jones turned in yet another fine performance. He did give up one TD on a reverse pass, but even then he had perfect coverage and the receiver simply out jumped him and made an incredible tightrope catch in the end zone. Jones was regularly left on an island in single coverage and Ohio State went after him multiple times, with Jones winning each battle including a late deep pass attempt which was a major factor in getting the ball back to the offense for the final chance drive at the end of the game.

After an atrocious third quarter the Alabama defense buckled down and performed exceptionally well in the fourth quarter before allowing the back breaking 80-yard TD run by Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliot.

The Bad

The play calling on offense was atrocious. Even the most novice armchair quarterback could question why a running back tandem averaging six yards per carry wasn’t given the ball more when the defense began struggling mightily in the second half.

There were long stretches in the game where Alabama called pass after pass despite Sims obviously struggling, and the Alabama running game clicking. With Henry running the way he was there is no excuse for why he didn’t get more than 13 carries in this game.

Blake Sims had a record-setting senior season but he ended it with one of his poorest performances. The senior threw three interceptions and looked like a deer caught in the headlights on more than one occasion. Kiffin didn’t help him out much with his play calling, but even with a chance to tie the game on the final drive Sims’ management of the clock was disappointing.

Eddie Jackson’s inconsistent season came to a close with a pretty horrible performance from the junior. He was picked on regularly by Ohio State quarterback Cordale Jones and allowed a 47 yard score by simply falling down. On the play Jackson was running stride for stride with Ohio State’s Devin Smith and had he not fallen down Jackson likely would have had a chance at intercepting, or at the very least knocking down, the underthrown pass.

The Ugly

The mistakes were heartbreaking and backbreaking. Turnovers, penalties, mental mistakes, and bad play calling did Alabama in as you cannot continue to pile those errors on yourself against a terrific team.

It started early as Christion Jones bobbled the opening kickoff and instead of picking it up and kneeling on it in the end zone, he simply let it lay there. Thankfully DeAndrew White jumped on it to make sure Ohio State didn’t cover it up for a score. Things seemed to pile up in the second half, especially the mental errors on both offense and defense.

Alabama has boasted one of the best run defenses in the country under Nick Saban and did so again this season, but Ohio State’s Ezekiel Jackson ran for 239 yards and two touchdowns, including the 85 yard score in the second half. With Alabama down by just seven with a little over five minutes to go, Jackson ran straight through the Alabama defense for the score that sealed the deal.

Cordale Jones gashed Alabama’s defense on both scrambles and designed runs to the tune of 89 yards (he lost 46 yards on sacks however). On several occasions Jones ran straight up the middle on third and long to pick up the first down. It was extremely frustrating to see this happen over and over with seemingly no response from the Alabama coaching staff to attempt to spy the quarterback.

Injuries have been a problem all year for Alabama and they continued to pile up in the Sugar Bowl. TJ Yeldon was slowed up and only managed to play a handful of snaps in the game due to injury while Landon Collins, Dillon Lee, Christion Jones, and Reggie Ragland were all knocked out of the game. Collins, Lee, and Ragland were all off the field when Jackson scored in the fourth quarter, with freshman Shaun Dion-Hamilton forced to play. Collins left the game for the second time with a shoulder injury the play before Jackson’s score.

Hopefully this Alabama team won’t be simply remembered for a heartbreaking and disappointing performance in the Sugar Bowl, again, as this team exceeded expectations.

There is an incredible amount of talent returning next season, especially if a few juniors decide to remain, and the sky is not falling. In the Alabama locker room following the game strength coach Scott Cochran was already imploring the young Tide players to “never forget this feeling” while Saban asked his players how they would respond to this.

Final Stats (final season stats are below as well)

Blake Sims: 22-36, 337 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT; 10 carries, 29 yards, 1 TD

Derrick Henry: 13 carries, 95 yards, 1 TD; 2 catches, 54 yards
TJ Yeldon: 10 carries, 47 yards, 1 TD

Amari Cooper: 9 catches, 71 yards, 2 TD
DeAndrew White: 3 catches, 65 yards
OJ Howard: 2 catches, 14 yards
Jalston Fowler: 2 catches, 14 yards
Chris Black: 2 catches, 10 yards
Brian Vogler: 2 catches, 9 yards

Landon Collins: 12 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1 fumble recovery, 1 pass breakup
Reggie Ragland: 7 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss
Nick Perry: 6 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss
Trey DePriest: 6 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss
Geno Smith: 6 tackles
Xzavier Dickson: 5 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack
Eddie Jackson: 4 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass breakup
Jarran Reed: 3 tackles
Cyrus Jones: 2 tackles, 4 pass breakups, 1 INT, 32 yards
Reuben Foster: 2 tackles
A’Shawn Robinson: 2 tackles, 1 pass breakup
Jonathan Allen: 2 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack
Jarrick Williams: 2 tackles
Denzel Devall: 2 tackles
OJ Howard: 1 tackle
Ryan Anderson: 1 tackle, 1.0 tackle for loss
Michael Nysewander: 1 tackle
Tony Brown: 1 tackle
DJ Pettway: 1 tackle, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1.0 sack
Jalston Fowler: 1 tackle
Jabriel Washington: 1 tackle

Adam Griffith: 5/5 XPs
JK Scott: 7 punts, 55.0 yards per punt (long: 73 yards), 5 inside the 20
Christion Jones: 7 kickoff returns, 102 yards; 2 punt returns, 10 yards


Blake Sims: 252-391, 3,487 yards, 28 TD, 10 INT; 83 carries, 350 yards, 7 TD
Jacob Coker: 38-59, 403 yards, 4 TD; 7 carries, 13 yards

Derrick Henry: 172 carries, 990 yards, 11 TD; 5 catches, 133 yards, 2 TD
TJ Yeldon: 194 carries, 979 yards, 11 TD; 15 catches, 180 yards, 1 TD
Tyren Jones: 36 carries, 224 yards, 2 TD; 1 catch, 1 yard
Altee Tenpenny: 26 carries, 136 yards
Kenyan Drake: 22 carries, 112 yards, 4 TD; 5 catches, 159 yards, 2 TD
Jalston Fowler: 12 carries, 69 yards; 11 catches, 129 yards, 2 TD
Buddy Pell: 2 carries, 15 yards

Amari Cooper: 124 catches, 1,727 yards, 16 TD; 5 carries, 23 yards
DeAndrew White: 40 catches, 504 yards, 4 TD
Christion Jones: 19 catches, 264 yards, 1 TD
OJ Howard: 17 catches, 260 yards
Chris Black: 15 catches, 188 yards
ArDarius Stewart: 12 catches, 149 yards
Cameron Sims: 7 catches, 62 yards, 1 TD
Robert Foster: 6 catches, 44 yards
Brian Vogler: 6 catches, 27 yards, 1 TD
Michael Nysewander: 2 catches, 21 yards, 1 TD
Ty Flournoy-Smith: 2 catches, 18 yards, 1 TD
Malcolm Faciane: 2 catches, 2 yards
Brandon Greene: 1 catch, 24 yards

Landon Collins: 103 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 3 INT, 7 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 quarterback hurries
Reggie Ragland: 95 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 quarterback hurry
Trey DePriest: 88 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 3 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 safety, 1 quarterback hurry
Nick Perry: 80 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 INT, 6 pass breakups, 1 quarterback hurry
Geno Smith: 56 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup, 1 forced fumble
Jarran Reed: 55 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 5 pass breakups
A’Shawn Robinson: 49 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3 pass breakups, 4 quarterback hurries, 1 blocked field goal, 1 forced fumble
Cyrus Jones: 46 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 3 INT, 13 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD
Xzavier Dickson: 42 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 10 quarterback hurries
Eddie Jackson: 41 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 1 INT, 6 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
Jonathan Allen: 33 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 1 pass breakup, 1 blocked field goal, 7 quarterback hurries
Ryan Anderson: 25 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, 9 quarterback hurries, 1 fumble recovery
Dillon Lee: 24 tackles
DJ Pettway: 23 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 3 pass breakups, 5 quarterback hurries
Dalvin Tomlinson: 22 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries
Reuben Foster: 22 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 3 quarterback hurries
Jabriel Washington: 17 tackles, 1 INT, 2 pass breakups
Rashaan Evans: 15 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 3 quarterback hurries
Jarrick Williams: 14 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss, 2 pass breakups
Brandon Ivory: 13 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss
Denzel Devall: 11 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 2 quarterback hurries
Tony Brown: 10 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup, 1 fumble recovery
Maurice Smith: 10 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss, 0.5 sack, 1 pass breakup
Bradley Sylve: 8 tackles, 2 pass breakups
Da’Shawn Hand: 7 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks
Tim Williams: 5 tackles, 1.5 tackle for loss, 1.5 sack, 4 quarterback hurries
Darren Lake: 5 tackles, 1 quarterback hurry
Shaun Dion-Hamilton: 3 tackles
Hootie Jones: 2 tackles
Josh Frazier: 1 tackle, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1.0 sack
Josh Dickerson: 1 tackle
Dee Liner: 1 tackle
Korren Kirven: 1 tackle

JK Scott: 55 punts, 48.0 yards per punt (long: 73 yards), 31 inside the 20
Adam Griffith: 12/19 FGs; 53/54 XPs
Gunnar Raborn: 2/3 FGs; 9/10 XPs
Christion Jones: 19 punt returns, 152 yards; 37 kickoff returns, 851 yards
Cyrus Jones: 4 punt returns, 82 yards; 4 kickoff returns, 77 yards
Landon Collins: 3 kickoff returns, 55 yards
OJ Howard: 2 kickoff returns, 10 yards