Alabama Football: Three Things To Watch Against Wisconsin


My excitement level for this Alabama football season is on par with Steve Spurrier finding out Arby’s added new menu items. Football is back and that means we finally get to see Alabama on the field. Since it is game week, it’s time to talk about football stuff like breaking down starting lineups and strategies and all that fun stuff that I realized I live for. Seriously, without football I’ve noticed that I’m strategizing the proper way to eat cheese fries or creating advance stats determining how late I can sleep in before class. So you know, the important stuff but not as important as football.

Jake Coker’s Performance:

Duh Tyler, of course, the starting quarterback’s performance is very important. Well, it’s a pretty nice match-up for Coker’s first career start and yes Coker will be the starter. So looking at Wisconsin’s defense they have a few talented players. They finished 4th nationally in total defense and 17th in scoring defense and that looks good on paper but with a matchup against this Alabama offense the Badgers could be in trouble. Vince Biegel is the leader of the linebackers and Michael Caputo is all over the place at safety but even with experience at the defensive back position, Wisconsin doesn’t exactly ballhawk opposing quarterbacks.

Wisconsin picked off six passes last year but, none came from their cornerbacks. Their biggest weakness is the heart of their defense. A lot of new faces along the defensive line and at inside linebacker. If Alabama’s offensive line holds, Coker should have plenty of time to throw the ball against defensive backs that won’t exactly force many turnovers. This is a very good test to see if Coker can perform under the big lights. I also expect to see Cooper Bateman in the game whether for experiment or if the game gets out of hand.

Battle in the Trenches:

This is where the game will be won for Alabama. Here’s a fun stat, Wisconsin’s defensive line posted 11.5 tackles for loss last season. Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen posted 11 by himself last year. Wisconsin’s offensive line is replacing three starters and going through a round of injuries, shrinking their current depth. Speaking of Wisconsin’s depth chart, their starting unit hasn’t even worked together once throughout training camp (I’m sure after this publishes that they would have). If last year’s line that comprised of an All-American and All-Big 10 player struggled against a speedy LSU front seven, how will this less talented and less experienced unit handle possibly the best front seven in all of football with both size, speed and ridiculous depth?

Not only will Wisconsin be outmatched against Alabama’s defense but their own defense will have a hard time penetrating the Alabama backfield. Relatively new themselves, Alabama’s line averages 6-foot-5 and 312 pounds and that includes stud sophomore Cam Robinson and senior Ryan Kelly. For reference, the average NFL lineman is 6-foot-5 and weighs 310 pounds. Good luck.

Alabama Defensive Backs:

Outside of quarterback, this is the biggest question mark for Alabama. Talent? That’s certainly not the issue. Cyrus Jones returns as a starter, redshirt freshman and former 5-star Marlon Humphrey will get his first start on Saturday, five-star freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick starts at the “Star” position, at safety is Eddie Jackson moving over from cornerback and Geno Matias-Smith who is one of the more experienced defensive backs on the team. Let’s also not forget Tony Brown, the former 5-star prospect who saw ample time last year as a freshman. The stars are certainly there and if the young guys live up to the hype then Alabama could have one of the best defenses in the Nick Saban era. Expect growing pains but this is another ideal match up.

Wisconsin isn’t exactly known for throwing the ball In 2014, their average of 22.5 attempts was good for 118th in the country. Head Coach Paul Chryst has a reputation for being quarterback friendly but even with returning starter Joel Stave, it’s going to be a tough test to open the season, especially if you consider Stave threw for more interceptions than touchdowns last season. Despite Wisconsin usually relying on the run, if the Badgers want to win they’ll have to try and take on the youthful but talented Alabama defensive backfield.