The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Alabama vs. Wisconsin


Alabama and Wisconsin were the only ranked teams to face a ranked opponent in week 1, and the Tide was victorious in a game that might have been the most stressful blowout ever.
Maybe it was seeing the quarterback battle play out under the lights of primetime. Maybe it was watching yet another quarterback slice up the Alabama secondary seemingly at will. Somehow, the game felt so intense that it was easy to miss that the Tide nearly doubled the Badgers’ total yardage. Let’s look at some people and some stats that stood out.
The Good

Total rushing yards for Wisconsin – 40
Wisconsin was supposed to be a run-first offense. Unfortunately, Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon have gone to the NFL. Junior Corey Clement wasn’t able to do much of anything before leaving the game with a groin injury. Even without Alabama’s three sacks, Wisconsin was only able to gain 64 yards on the ground, including a single 25 yard rush.
Alabama capitalized on the lack of experience on Wisconsin’s offensive line and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph’s insistence on running in the interior. Wisconsin’s offensive line is one of the heaviest Alabama will face all season, but the Tide defensive front won’t face three first-time starters again.
It’s cute that those Wisconsin players think they can catch Derrick Henry.
Derrick Henry
You can’t arm tackle Derrick Henry. At this point, I’m not sure you can even wrap up and tackle Derrick Henry once he picks up a little speed. Henry went for almost 150yds on only 13 carries. Two of his three touchdowns came after he ran straight through a pile of defenders.
The offensive line, particularly veteran center Ryan Kelly, also deserves praise here. They manhandled a smallish Wisconsin defensive line.
The Bad

The Secondary on Third Down
Wisconsin went 6-14 on third down conversions, converting once on a penalty, once on a run, and four times on passes. That’s not to say that the secondary doesn’t look like they’ve improved, particularly when you consider that Kirby Smart’s defense spent most of the night loading the box and anticipating the run. However, it’s tough not to be concerned that three times on 3rd-and-3 and once on 3rd-and-2, Wisconsin was able to complete longer than needed passes to move the chains.
The biggest problem with this play is that he was 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Jake Coker’s Decision Making Out of the Pocket
Jake Coker had a good night. For the first time, Bama fans have seen how he might have pushed Jameis Winston in Tallahassee. The only huge red flag in Coker’s performance was his refusal to throw the ball away. He was sacked twice and lost 26 yards. When the pocket breaks down, Coker’s instinct seems to be to continue to drop back and look for a receiver.
Otherwise, he made good decisions and reminded us that he is a talented player. The coaching staff seemed happy with his performance. I’m hesitant to say that the quarterback battle is over, but Saban’s response to Coker’s first start seems a lot like what he said about Blake Sims after one game last year.
The Ugly
These got old quick.
The Penalties
11 penalties for 120 yards is not good. On one particularly frustrating 3rd quarter drive, 1st and 10 from the Wisconsin 21 became a missed field goal after three penalties in four plays. There are some good things here – for one, Alabama won’t see a Big 12 officiating crew again in the regular season. Also, five of the penalties were false starts and holding calls. As the offensive line settles in and gets used to playing together, that should calm down a little.
Only Alabama fans can complain about a three-possession win over a ranked team. But why would we want to be anybody else? Roll Tide, folks.

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