Alabama Football: What we learned from a Missouri Saturday

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Alabama Football win over Missouri provided answers to some, but not all questions.

Nick Saban’s Alabama football team opened the 2020 season with a road victory. It was clearly the superior team against Missouri. Position groups will grade well. More than a few players had tremendous games.

All of the good referenced above will not satisfy Nick Saban. He does not care the Tide failed to cover the 28-point spread. It is unlikely he even knows point spreads for games. What will stick in Nick’s craw is a lackluster fourth-quarter performance. The Crimson Tide led 35-6 after three quarters.

The fourth-quarter should have been about putting the game away and developing backup players. The Tide was out-scored 13-3 in the fourth. Missouri gained 132 yards in the quarter to the Tide’s 52. The running game, still with mostly first-unit offensive linemen, managed eight, net yards on 14 attempts. Backup QB, Bryce Young lost a fumble. One of Missouri’s top offensive threats was left uncovered and busted a 54-yard touchdown.

Saban was mostly positive in his post-game review. As reported by, Saban said,

"I’m proud of our team. They went through a lot. They had to overcome a lot to get into this game and we came out and played extremely well in the first half."

The biggest negatives he mentioned were too many pre-snap penalties and according to Saban,

"The intensity dropped and we didn’t play well in the second half. Missouri gets credit for hanging in there and still fighting."

The Crimson Tide head coach was particularly complimentary of the performances by Mac Jones and Dylan Moses.

What was learned about Alabama football against Missouri

One game after a most unusual offseason and preseason does not define a season. There is ample time to correct anything but roster deficiencies. If Alabama football has roster deficiencies they are not as dire as last season and they were not evident Saturday night.

  • Mac Jones, according to Saban and the game stats, was very good. Mac was 18-for-24, for 249 yards, two touchdowns, and a QB rating of 189.7. His decision making was superb, using all the Tide offense’s best players. Saban said he was “very, very pleased with Mac’s performance.”
  • Bryce Young showed the considerable promise that has excited Alabama fans for months. He also showed he is not yet ready to be QB1.
  • Unsurprisingly, Najee Harris was excellent. Brian Robinson had a couple of good runs but dropped a pass. Trey Sanders was ineffective, averaging 0.1 yards-per-carry.
  • The offensive line was strong in run-blocking and pass protection, but not for the entire game.
  • In the first half, the Crimson Tide defense was flying to the ball. Despite a weaker second-half performance, it is clearly better than last season. Safety Daniel Wright led the team in tackles with 11. Josh Jobe, Christian Harris and LaBryan Ray each had a sack.
  • Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith combined for 16 catches, showing why they are the best pair of wideouts in the nation.
  • Concerns about depth, at offensive line and defensive back, were not resolved. The expectation of a loaded running back roster was not evident against Missouri.

Alabama football fans will do well to keep Saturday in perspective. Oklahoma and LSU lost. Georgia wallowed around against a weak Arkansas team. Texas A&M struggled to beat Vanderbilt in College Station. Teams struggling early should be no surprise this season.

dark. Next. A more positive take on the Crimson Tide victory

Alabama football fans, don’t miss the Bama Hammer weekly SEC Power Ranking. It will be updated Sunday afternoon.