Alabama Football: With the college football world watching, a new story emerged Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.
College football fans, maybe especially Alabama football fans, are constantly searching for the end game to a season. How well or how poorly will their team finish any season lingers in every mind. Presuming too much too soon can lead to erroneous, foregone conclusions.
It is too soon to know how the 2020 college football season will end. But, a clear indication was given Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. The game’s outcome was decisive. Even more so, is the story of how the game evolved.
The Georgia Bulldogs are a very good football team. For five recruiting cycles, Kirby Smart has amassed a never before seen level of Bulldogs’ football talent. His recruiting success as a head coach is on par with Nick Saban. The 2020 Georgia Bulldogs team has an outstanding defense. Even after Saturday night and 564 Crimson Tide yards, the Bulldogs probably have the best defense in college football.
That exceptional defense was not enough – not nearly enough. When Kirby Smart left Nick Saban after the 2015 season, defenses still played a major role in winning championships. That is no longer true. Offensive production trumps everything in CFB now and Kirby has been slow to decipher the rapid evolution.
Kirby cannot be faulted for trying to make Athens, Tuscaloosa-East. Copying his longtime mentor was to be the path to Georgia football dominance. The problem is nothing stays the same. Going back to the 2014 season, Nick Saban has been, not just embracing change, but looking into the unknown to find it. Saban sought the advice of many sources. He adapted, following the expertise of Lane Kiffin, Brian Daboll, Mike Locksley and Steve Sarkisian.
To some Alabama football fans, the results of six seasons, 2014-2019, have not been enough. There have been only two National Championships. A 2018 National Championship failure and losses to LSU and Auburn last season have tainted perceptions.
The Tide’s performance against Georgia should wipe away much of that taint. Consider the following stats.
- In the last 39 minutes of football against the Georgia defense, the Crimson Tide scored 34 points, nearly a point-per-minute. The last six of those minutes, running clock was the goal of the Tide offense because no more points were needed.
- If it was not over earlier, the game’s outcome was certainly determined with 9:32 left in the fourth quarter. At 51 seconds left in the third quarter, the Crimson Tide had, what can now be seen, as an insurmountable 10-point lead.
- In the fourth quarter, time-of-possession was 11:21 for the Tide, to 3:39 for the Bulldogs.
Alabama football fans know well how the Tide’s domination occurred. Why it did, is the story that bears elaboration. The Alabama football defense made halftime adjustments. The return of a more experienced safety, Jordan Battle certainly helped.
The story, however, was Steve Sarkisian’s, explosive Alabama Crimson Tide offense. The top college football defense of any given season is not supposed to surrender 564 yards in 72 plays. Five touchdown plays are not supposed to be the result of 162 yards gained. That is if college football’s old standards are the measurement. Standards that claimed defense wins championships.
Alabama football was not the first to learn those old standards no longer apply. But, thanks to Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has fully embraced the game’s evolution. Kirby Smart has not.