Apparently, many Alabama football fans were surprised the Crimson Tide had a close call against Arkansas. At least that is the indication from social media comments and complaints Saturday afternoon and night.
Some of us were not surprised but more importantly, Nick Saban was not the least bit surprised. Had Saban not been zealous to use every possible connection point during the week, to gain his players’ attention, this might have been one sad Crimson Tide Sunday.
Alabama Football Hope and Patience
Alabama football fans keep hoping the next game will be when it all comes together for the 2023 Crimson Tide. Mostly the hoping has included patience. Going into ‘Tennessee Hate Week’ the hoping will continue. The patience may not.
The Vols were the better team against A&M on Saturday afternoon. The main reason Tennessee was better was its running game. Going into Saturday the Aggies were tied for 6th among FBS teams allowing just 2.6 yards per rush. With an ineffective passing attack, the Vols relied on 232 rushing yards to beat A&M. Tennessee’s Jaylin Wright had 136 rushing yards with a 7.2-yard average. Statistically, after week six, the Vols had three of the SEC’s top eight running backs.
The other impressive strength for Tennessee was its near-constant harassment of Aggies’ QB, Max Johnson. The Vols went into the game No. 2 in the FBS with an average of 4.4 sacks per game. They added three more against the Aggies and produced 11 QB hurries.
The Alabama defense has been strong against the run this season, not far behind Texas A&M in average yards per rush allowed. If the Vols had no trouble running on the Aggies, can they have similar success against the Crimson Tide? Tennessee did gain an advantage over A&M when the Aggies’ leading tackler, Edgerrin Cooper left the game due to injury.
Most concerning about the Tide vs. Vols matchup is the Crimson Tide’s pass protection. While it has slowly improved, a weakness remains at left tackle regardless of whether Kadyn Proctor or Elijah Pritchett is on the field. A bright spot for the Alabama football offensive line has been the play of originally, No. 3 right guard, Jaeden Roberts. Roberts started again on Saturday in place of Darrian Dalcourt.
The Arkansas game might have value as Crimson Tide players renew their determination to prepare and execute in anticipation of a game when everything comes together. Certainly, Tide players will not share any doubt held by some fans.
It is way too early to predict what will happen in Bryant-Denny on Saturday. The game is an opportunity and for Alabama, proving championship potential is straightforward. Every game is a must-win.