Alabama Football: Not perfect against Hogs a good thing

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

What happened in Fayetteville was far from perfect. An already injury-weakened Alabama football team lost Bryce Young and Brian Branch during the game. Their availability for the Texas A&M game is not known.

Against Arkansas, the Crimson Tide made mental errors that fed Arkansas possessions. Errors in special teams were uncharacteristically damaging. Worse, the Alabama football defense played a third quarter that Nick Saban described as being “soft.” After the game, Saban explained what soft leads to,

"you get soft and three-yard runs become eight-yard runs. So it’s second-and-two instead of second-and-eight. You don’t get off the field on third down when you have an opportunity because you don’t cover as well."

Not only was the Tide defense soft in the 3rd quarter, Saban explained it wasn’t always smart either.

"One (penalty) on third-and-forever, after the play, gave them a first down, I mean, that’s not playing smart."

On Saturday, Alabama’s resilience overcame Arkansas and the Crimson Tide’s own failings. Nick Saban has good reason for concern knowing his defense can’t afford such inconsistencies against Tennessee in Knoxville or against even better opponents later in the season.

Not that Saban will let his players focus on Tennessee yet. First, there is a payback opportunity in Tuscaloosa. For months the college football world has hyped the Texas A&M visit to Bryant-Denny. Last season’s upset, plus the Jimbo and Saban fracas fueled anticipation.

With the Aggies reeling, the game has lost some sizzle. Even in a worst-case scenario, without Bryce Young, the Crimson Tide should be able to handle Texas A&M.

The Arkansas game, though far from perfect, helped the Crimson Tide in multiple ways. The playing time and performance of Jalen Milroe were one way. Not only did Milroe get valuable experience in a hostile setting, but now the Aggies must prepare for two very different quarterbacks. In addition, the special teams’ mistakes and defensive loss of focus provided the Tide with a wake-up call that Nick Saban will maximize.

Alabama Football and Adversity

Alabama gained more from Saturday’s third-quarter failings than it would have, had it easily cruised to victory. If Bryce needs some time to heal, the Crimson Tide knows it can win with Jalen Milroe. Not the least of that awareness is the confidence of Milroe, should he be the starter against the Aggies.

After the game, Milroe talked about suddenly going from QB 2 to QB1. He spoke about his faith and his love for Bryce Young. Sustained by both and the encouragement of other teammates, Jalen Milroe rose to a challenge that might have overcome many young men.

dark. Next. Crimson Tide found itself in Fayetteville

Alabama Football is already a better team than the one that took the field on Saturday in Fayetteville. The team learned much about itself and Bill O’Brien learned to not pass on 1st-and-goal from the three.