Alabama Football: No Nick, no problem for Tide defense in Iron Bowl

Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via USA TODAY Sports
Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via USA TODAY Sports /

Without Nick Saban on the sideline, stopping Auburn was no problem for the Alabama football defense.

The Alabama football defense has been quietly improving, beginning with the Georgia game. Given the history of Auburn offenses having success in recent iron Bowls, no Nick Saban on the Bryant-Denny sideline was considered a big loss. Many wondered if the often maligned, Pete Golding would be up to the task?

The Alabama football defensive coordinator was pitted against two coaches, at least formerly judged as offensive wizards. In the 85th Iron Bowl, Pete Golding and his defense did just fine against Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris. It turned out, no Nick was no problem for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Steve Sarkisian is credited for doing excellent work in his combined role. The Auburn defense was no match for the Alabama football offense. On Sunday, Crimson Tide fans will look forward to Baton Rouge. Even with an Iron Bowl win, there will be no looking forward to another game without Nick Saban.

At halftime, Saturday afternoon, the Crimson Tide had outgained Auburn by just 67 yards. It was an efficient 220 yards for the Tide offense, creating 21 points. Auburn was the opposite of efficiency, gaining 153 yards while scoring only three points.

Through three quarters, Auburn had one statistical advantage, time-of-possession, at 25:18 to 19:42 for the Crimson Tide. The Crimson Tide led 35-6 from 415 yards of offense, compared to 237 yards for Auburn. Both teams had run the ball 23 times. The Crimson Tide had a 6.3 yards-per-carry average. For Auburn, the rush production was 2.3 yards-per-carry.

Auburn ran up some yardage in the fourth quarter, to no avail. The 29-point margin at the end of the third held for the 42-13 final score.

Nick Saban was complimentary of the players and his staff after the game. Alabama football coordinators get only rare opportunities to represent the Tide to the media. That did not change Saturday, with Steve Sarkisian as the ‘Interim’ or ‘Acting’ Head Coach. Sark has been getting great reviews all season and he will get more after the Iron Bowl. Pete Golding has been the whipping boy on the Alabama football staff, since last season. At the least, Golding gained a reprieve from the adverse judgment of Alabama football fans. It could also be a turning point for the Crimson Tide, DC.

All of Saban’s post-game comments can be seen below.

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If Gus Malzahn is an Offensive Guru, then Steve Sarkisian invented the forward pass, the shotgun, spread formation and RPO. Alabama football fans know neither is true.