When Alabama Football lost to Texas at home back in week two, it was the earliest loss for a Bama team in the Nick Saban era. Before conference play even kicked off, the Crimson Tide had burned its safety net, and did not look good in the process.
An uninspiring performance just a week later at South Florida piled onto Alabama fans’ worst fears: that this wasn’t a championship caliber team, or anything close.
Since that game in Tampa, Alabama Football has beaten four straight SEC West opponents, including two on the road. Still, halfway through the conference schedule, a lot of the flaws that it showed in those early-season games continue to linger.
On the bright side, the defense is solid and what was feared to be a turnover-prone offense has mostly protected the ball.
However, the pass protection is unreliable, the running game is inconsistent at best, and Jalen Milroe still has moments of indecisiveness. The penalty issues that plagued Alabama Football last season seem to have carried over to this year.
Adding to the stress of the Bama fanbase is the looming context of that week two Texas game, and the stomach-turning reality that there is no margin for error.
Still, the Crimson Tide keeps skating by.
In three of its four conference wins, Bama has either won by one possession, trailed at halftime, or both. This is hardly the resume of a future champion, and is a far cry from the dominance of past Nick Saban-coached Alabama teams.
The fact that it continues to win allows Bama fans to cling to the idealistic hope that this team will eventually have a breakthrough. As flawed as it has been, Bama remains undefeated in conference play. It is in first place in the SEC West and maintains full control of its own destiny. If it shores up some of these glaring deficiencies, college football might be in trouble. If it doesn’t, we can only hope it has enough heart and good fortune to keep edging out quality opponents.
This begs the following questions: Was that early loss to Texas a wakeup call or a warning shot? Should we, as Alabama Football fans, be content as long as the Tide keeps surviving? Or are the blemishes the team continues to show indicative of an inevitable heartbreaking loss?
An optimist at heart and a staunch believer in Coach Saban, I’m going to keep looking for that breakthrough moment. No Bama fan would argue that this team has immense potential, and I’ll believe in its ability to find that ceiling until it proves me wrong.