If you wanted to watch a game full of big plays, yesterday afternoon's game in College Station was the one you wanted to watch.
I have to admit that I was not feeling good about the Tide's chances after they went down 14 to zero in the first quarter. It was like deja vu all over again.
But in contrast to the below-average play of the offensive line that we saw versus Virginia Tech, the OLine played great. McCarron got the offense moving in the second quarter by focusing on the passing attack, and then the running game started to get going.
The running back rotation was what a lot of Alabama fans had expected this year: 1) Yeldon, 2) Fowler, and 3) Drake. Yeldon amassed 149 yards on the ground, and Fowler had a good game. He looked good--like the way he looked before his injury last year. And Kenyan Drake, apparently out of Saban's doghouse, had his first touchdown in a meaningful game.
What was talked about little in the game, unfortunately, was that Alabama's top cornerback, Deion Belue, got hurt and didn't play half of the game. That was a huge injury because Belue was the only guy who did a decent job against A&M's Paul Bunyanesque wide receiver, Mike Evans, the 6'5" wide receiver who consistently abused cornerbacks John Fulton and Cyrus Jones. When Belue was on him, which is what Alabama did in the second quarter after Evans mades Fulton and Jones look like fools, Belue covered him well. He is the Tide's top cover corner, a shut-down type of guy. With Belue not covering him, Evans caught passes for 279 yards, with a 95-yard touchdown late in the game.
Turnovers were a big part of the game too. Jones' interception in the end zone was huge. Sunseri's pick six was one of the more exciting ones I've ever seen. The killer turnover was one of Alabama's, Yeldon coughing up the ball near the goal line in the fourth quarter after a long drive.
The signature play of the game to me was with 2:28 remaining in the fourth and facing a third and goal, McCarron lobbied the coaching staff to do a play-action pass and throw to a running back. They executed it perfectly. The play action moved the defense to the left, Fowler went to the right, and McCarron tossed a short touchdown pass to Fowler. The play is very reminiscent to the play that won the game Iron Bowl for Alabama in '09 with McElroy passing to Upchurch.
So this much I know: the offensive line got its stuff together, and the cornerbacks need to get their stuff together.
It was a great win in College Station, but the Tide has some work to do on defense. You could argue that the Tide won't face as explosive an offense as Texas A&M, but we'll see. Both Ole Miss and LSU are scary teams in the West. Mettenberger is a heck of a qb for LSU, and that team's growth on the offensive side of the ball is a major concern.