Crimson Keys: Alabama vs Charleston Southern


The Tide play their last home game this week with Alabama vs Charleston Southern.

The second ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1) hosts the FCS Big South Conference champion Charleston Southern Buccaneers Saturday afternoon in the Tide’s final home game of the season. Alabama is coming off of their dominating wins over Mississippi State and LSU in back-to-back weeks while Charleston is coming off of eight consecutive wins.

Charleston’s last loss came in the state of Alabama earlier this year when they fell to the Sun Belt’s Troy 44-16. The Buccaneers field a well balanced offense led by UAB transfer quarterback Austin Brown’s 1,356 yards and 11 TDs in the air while a trio of backs have combined for 1,647 yards and 19 TDs. The Bucs utilize a hybrid style of offense that combines elements of the option and pro-style offense, but is based heavily on the game. Charleston also boast the #1 total defense in the FCS.

The Keys To Alabama vs Charleston Southern

Stay Focused, Get Early Lead

The biggest thing for Alabama going into this game will be staying focused and getting a lead early so that Alabama can get the starters rested before the Iron Bowl next week. The longer Charleston stays in the game the more the starters will be forced to play and the more likely they will to face possible injury. Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and running Kenyan Drake will already miss the game so there is a big need to not suffer anymore injuries here. If the Tide comes into the game looking ahead and not staying fully focused on the game it could end up with a very poor performance at a time when Alabama needs to be hitting on all cylinders.

Corral the Option
Alabama has struggled in the past when battling the option, and as Nick Saban so eloquently pointed out they were gashed by the triple option in 2011 by Georgia Southern, and Charleston will obviously look to take advantage of the fact that the Tide doesn’t see much old school style of option attacks. Though Alabama does see the read option from teams like Auburn, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State this is much more a form of the option that you would have seen in the 70’s then you normally would these days.

Charleston backs Darius Hammond (734 yards, 6 TD), Mike Holloway (515 yards, 9 TD), and Ben Robinson (398 yards, 4 TD) have been explosive this year leading a rushing attack that averages over 200 yards per game and their successes have allowed for Austin Brown to take advantage through the passing game as well. Alabama will likely use a big package across the defensive line to get penetration and attempt to foil the option plays before they get started while it will be the safeties and outside linebackers duties to make sure that when the quarterback options out the ball that someone is there to put the back down. The defensive backs also have to stay disciplined and not get caught watching what is going on in the backfield either because a pass out of a play-action option play can be devastating to a defense.

Minkah Fitzpatrick will miss the game with a sprained knee and sophomore Tony Brown will likely see the majority of the snaps Fitzpatrick would have seen. Brown was excellent last week against Mississippi State and he may have turned a corner in what has been a pretty disappointing sophomore season thus far for a player that played a lot in his freshman season.

Next: Nick Saban Isn't Going To Texas

Backup Running Backs Need Carries
Derrick Henry is a Heisman hopeful and will likely see his share of carries in the first half but with Kenyan Drake going down with an injury, that will likely keep him out for the remainder of the regular season, another back needs to step up in his absence. Damien Harris has seen the majority of the carries as a third back this year but Bo Scarbrough has also seen some action in recent weeks. Both are talented young players but neither has seen any meaningful playing time with the starters.This should, and hopefully will, change this week as Alabama will be looking to find a back that can take some of the load off of Henry for the remainder of the season so that he doesn’t have to carry the ball 30 times every week. Harris is the shiftier and speedy back of the two while Scarbrough is big and powerful.

Alabama faces Charleston Southern this week at 3:00 PM on the SEC Network.