Crimson Conclusions: Alabama vs. Wisconsin

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Sep 5, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry (2) runs with the ball for a third quarter touchdown against Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Joe Schobert (58) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night the third ranked Alabama Crimson Tide trampled the number twenty Wisconsin Badgers 35-17 inside Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, Texas. Led by an efficient Jake Coker, monster performance from Derrick Henry, and dominating defense the Tide made a statement to the college football world in front of a national TV audience. That statement was that Alabama is still one of the elite programs in the country and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

THE GOOD 

Jake Coker got the first start of his career in a game where more than one Tide QB was expected to play. Coker made the most of it and ended the game completing 15 of his 21 passes for 213 yards and 1 TD with no interceptions. Coker was efficient in running the Alabama offense and did not make very many mistakes with no turnovers. For now it seems that Coker has taken the reigns of the Alabama offense even if it means that we will still see Cooper Bateman in the future. Coker is likely going to be given more and more rope by Lane Kiffin and Saban to make this offense his. He started the game looking for stiff and like he wasn’t sure of himself, but on the second drive Coker looked comfortable and led Alabama straight down the field. The biggest complaint I have of his play would be his deep passes. Coker has gained a reputation for his big arm and ability to throw the ball down the field but in his only long attempts of the game he was badly off including two passes where his receivers, Calvin Ridley on one and ArDarius Stewart on the other, had badly beaten their defender only for Coker to under throw the pass. This is something that will definitely need to improve as the season goes on.

We all begged for Lane Kiffin to unleash the beast in Derrick Henry in the Sugar Bowl and he answered those wishes to start this season. Henry was fed early and often against Wisconsin and his bruising running style was demoralizing to the Badger defense. Henry also showed off his freaky speed with a 37 yard touchdown and a 56 yard touchdown. The success of the Alabama offense will rely heavily on Henry in 2015 and he seems to certainly be up for the task.

The Tide defensive line was as good as advertised shutting down the Badgers running game and in the second half putting a ton of pressure on Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave. In fact the Badgers had under 20 yards rushing until they managed to break off a 20 yard run late in the game against the Alabama second team defense which Saban criticized in his post game comments saying that his backup defense didn’t “compete well.” Jonathan Allen was in the Wisconsin backfield constantly and Dalvin Tomlinson got his huge paws on three passes to bat them down and further frustrate the offense. The group of Jarran Reed, A’Shawn Robinson, Allen, and Tomlinson are going to be a terror for opposing offenses this year.

The Alabama secondary showed a ton of improvement over last years group and it seems that moving former cornerbacks Geno Smith and Eddie Jackson to safety may be a decision that was a great one. Jackson and Smith are both very willing to come down and play the run but are excellent in coverage which gives Saban and Kirby Smart a chance to put their secondary in a lot of man-to-man coverage’s. True freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick was excellent as was redshirt freshman Marlon Humphrey in both players debuts. Cyrus Jones completely shut down his side of the field allowing no completions for the entire game. In fact almost all of Wisconsin’s passing yardage in the first half came on short passes to the running backs and tight ends which, along with their inabality to run the ball, killed any chance of completing deep passes.

THE BAD 

Alabama had far too many penalties, especially the offensive line, to the tune of 11 for 120 yards. Tight end Dakota Ball had multiple penalties to go along with the offensive lines flags. The line was terrific all game in run blocking but struggled a bit at different times in pass blocking. That is something that needs to be more consistent going forward.

THE UGLY 

The kickers were absolutely terrible in the opener, there is no other way to say it, and that includes All American punter JK Scott. One of the most consistent players in the entire country last year Scott was just flat out bad. He had two absolutely awful punts in the first half while thankfully he didn’t have to kick much in the second. There really was no excuse for his issues either as they were playing inside with no wind. Whatever the issues he is having need to be fixed and fixed quick. Adam Griffith continues to disappoint Alabama fans as he missed both of his field goal attempts in the game. Much blame was put on Griffith’s horrible 2014 on a back injury but he is healthy now and is still playing just as bad.

The Tide jumped off to a great start in 2015 and will look to continue to improve next week against Middle Tennessee at 3:00 PM (central) on the SEC Network.

FINAL STATS 

PASSING 

Jake Coker: 15-21, 213 yards, 1 TD

Cooper Bateman: 7-8, 51 yards; 2 carries, 4 yards

RUSHING 

Derrick Henry: 13 carries, 147 yards, 3 TD; 2 catches, 13 yards

Kenryan Drake: 10 carries, 77 yards, 1 TD; 2 catches, 48 yards

Damien Harris: 9 carries, 23 yards

RECEIVING 

Robert Foster: 4 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD

ArDarius Stewart: 4 catches, 44 yards

Richard Mullaney: 2 catches, 38 yards

OJ Howard: 3 catches, 37 yards

Calvin Ridley: 3 catches, 21 yards

Ty Flournoy-Smith: 1 catch, 18 yards

DEFENSE 

Reggie Ragland: 8.5 TKL, 1 QBH

Eddie Jackson: 6 TKL, 1 INT, 41 yards

Shaun-Dion Hamilton: 5 TKL

Minkah Fitzpatrick: 4 TKL, 1.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 1 PBU

Reuben Foster: 3.5 TKL, 1.0 TFL

Marlon Humphrey: 3 TKL

Jonathan Allen: 3 TKL, 2.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 PBU

Jarran Reed: 3 TKL

Geno Matias-Smith: 2 TKL

Ryan Anderson: 1.5 TKL

Bradley Sylve: 1 TKL

Darren Lake: 1 TKL

DJ Pettway: 1 TKL

Tony Brown: 1 TKL

Dillon Lee: 1 TKL

Dalvin Tomlinson: 1 TKL, 3 PBU

A’Shawn Robinson: 1 TKL, 1 QBH

Josh Frazier: 0.5 TKL

Ronnie Harrison: 0.5 TKL

Daron Payne: 0.5 TKL

D’Shawn Hand: 0.5 TKL

Cyrus Jones: 2 PBU

SPECIAL TEAMS 

Adam Griffith: 0/2 FGs, 5/5 XPs

JK Scott: 4 punts, 39. 5 YPP, long: 48 yards

Kenyan Drake: 3 KOR, 28 yards

Chris Black: 1 KOR, 7 yards

Cyrus Jones: 6 PR, 23 yards