Alabama Football: On the Aggies, Vols and reality checks

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

Quite a few talking heads with national platforms are overreacting to the narrow, Alabama Football victory over Texas A&M. The most common theme is when a No. 1 cannot soundly beat an average team at home, something bad is wrong.

Those claims are partially true, based on four turnovers and two missed field goals, plus some other mistakes. But being somewhat true does not mean rock-solid. Yes, the Crimson Tide struggled to beat an average A&M team. But without Bryce Young, Saturday night’s Crimson Tide offense was less dangerous and more predictable. With Bryce, Alabama would have won the game by three touchdowns or more.

Saturday night, Alabama was missing more than Young’s arm. It was also missing his brain. That does not mean Jalen Milroe is not a smart player. But Milroe, (and almost every other QB in CFB) cannot do what Bryce does in reading defenses and adjusting plays pre-snap.

Some Alabama football fans contend Bryce makes up for Bill O’Brien being just an average play-caller. That might be true at times. But part of the O’Brien story is in the offseason, Nick Saban, per Alabama football insiders, wanted Bryce and O’Brien together for another season.

Bryce Young is such a special player, a transition to a new OC might not have been difficult. We’ll never know, and many Crimson Tide fans will never stop criticizing O’Brien. Because there are no longer any justifiable reasons to scapegoat Pete Golding, O’Brien is an easy target for fans.

Alabama Football gets opponent’s ‘best games’

Another key point is being overlooked. Every good opponent points to an Alabama game as its most important of the season. By design, the Aggies were going to play their best game of the season in Tuscaloosa. Jimbo Fisher spent months preparing for the game. He knows, pretty much whatever else happens with the Aggies this season, beating the Crimson Tide back-to-back would have been a major recruiting boost.

So what about the Vols? Giving any Tennessee coach or player credit is challenging. Even so, two things are true. Josh Heupel has done an outstanding job in Knoxville. Hendon Hooker is a serious contender to win the Heisman. And for the Vols’ offense, it is not all Hooker. He has talent around him. That talent level is expected to receive a boost against the Crimson Tide with the return of wide receiver, Cedric Tillman.

The environment in Neyland Stadium will be feverish and insanely loud. Attention to detail will be needed by every Alabama football player. The offensive pace by the Vols will strain the very good Crimson Tide defense.

Tennessee, according to ESPN, has played the third-easiest schedule among SEC teams. The Vols are vulnerable and one stat explains why. Against a weak schedule, Tennessee is the third-worst SEC team in opponent passing completion at 61.9%.

The Vols have been good against the run and at QB sacks, but those stats are misleading. Tennessee has played two not-great teams in Florida and LSU, and three weak teams in Ball State, Pittsburgh and Akron. Tennessee is a good team and should not be discounted, but the Vols have not faced the level of challenge Alabama will provide on Saturday.

Next. Crimson Tide Offensive Report Card. dark

The Crimson Tide received a bit of a reality check Saturday night. One lies ahead for the Vols.