Alabama Football: Hard to move on after Saturday


Alabama football fans don’t get much practice at processing a loss. Some of us, including me, are having a difficult time moving past the Tennessee game. Longtime followers of the Alabama Crimson Tide consider the Vols as a big rival, more so than LSU or Georgia. But, since nothing lasts forever, a loss after 15 straight wins should not be a shock.

What did shock many of us on Saturday is how the Crimson Tide lost. No Alabama football team should score 49 points and lose. Included in the finger-pointing from Crimson Tide fans is a complaint Bill O’Brien should have run the ball, at least once after 1st-and-10 at the Tennessee 32-yard line.

The three passes that followed yielded nothing. It is hard to imagine that one, and maybe two runs would not have produced any yards. Then again, on 2nd-and-10, O’Brien and Bryce Young engineered the perfect call. Jahmyr Gibbs, slanting over the middle was not only open, he was being chased by a defensive tackle. The pass from Young was slightly low and maybe had a tad too much zip, but it was a catchable ball. Put the ball in the same place for Gibbs 10 times and he catches it eight or nine times.

After a catch, Gibbs might have scored on the play. At the least, a winning field goal would have been no more than 40 yards and perhaps much less.

Casting aside that ‘what if’ allows attention to turn to the real reason the Crimson Tide lost. That reason is two-fold but simple. The Alabama football defense was unable to pressure Hendon Hooker and at the same time unable to cover Tennessee’s most dangerous receiver.

The only ‘what ifs’ worth considering are what happens in the game if the Crimson Tide pressured Hooker on just four or five plays, instead of one sack and zero hurries – and was there not an adjustment to use a defensive back with enough speed to cover Jalin Hyatt.

Alabama football fans want answers. Short of answers we can understand; we blame players and coaches. In our fervor, complexity is often ignored. Defense is a constant tradeoff. In games with closely matched opponents, stopping one component of an offense can increase vulnerability from other components.

What Alabama fans are left with is some combination of doubt, hope and belief that Nick Saban and his coaching staff know what corrections to make.

Complete game stats are available here.

Next. Look beyond AP and Coaches Polls. dark

Bryce Young was magnificent against Tennessee and deserved a different outcome.