With the arrival of college football’s first Saturday many teams played cupcake competition but the Alabama Football team was busy making a statement.
I looked at the scores from Saturday and sure enough there were some impressive numbers that stuck out. Florida State won 69-3, Oklahoma State pitched an 84-0 shutout and even Kansas State put up huge numbers with a 51-9 win. But who did they play? In the exact order of teams listed: Murray State, Savannah State, and Missouri State. In short teams that aren’t on the same level as FCS powerhouses.
Its like the Yankees playing the little league team down the street; of course you would expect them to put up scores usually reserved for video games.
When some were playing in glorified scrimmages, the Alabama Crimson Tide played in a game against a Top 10 opponent in the Michigan Wolverines. Some will pull the “Yeah, but..” card which is fine. But I am willing to guess those who are now preaching that the Wolverines are overrated are the same ones who proclaimed the Tide would be upset.
The final score read 41-14, but those who watched the game in its entirety know the game wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. The Crimson Tide struggled-for their first series. Then, after Alabama shook off the jitters, they reminded the country why they have been one of the nation’s most dominant programs in the past 5 seasons, rattling off 3 touchdown drives to close out the first quarter. Michigan was able to get into the endzone a couple of times, but it was long after the game was decided.
Leading into this game there was a lot of talk about the Alabama offense being “explosive” and sure enough the Tide provided plenty of fireworks.
TJ Yeldon followed up his MVP performance in the spring’s A-Day scrimmage by showing he could put up jaw dropping numbers not only against the Alabama defense, but any defense in the country. Yeldon joins a long line of talented Alabama running backs, but only he was able to rush for over 100 yards in his debut as a true freshman.
Then it came down to the passing game and while AJ McCarron’s numbers certainly won’t win him a Heisman, they will win plenty of games. Lost in the 11-21 passing performance is the amount of times McCarron sparred the Tide of turnovers, throwing the ball away instead of forcing the ball into traffic. Then when opportunities presented themselves he took advantage, including the highlight 51 yard touchdown pass to DeAndrew White.
While Yeldon and McCarron will certainly steal the headlines, that is not what makes this team great. It’s the way that Jalston Fowler, who paved the way for his fellow running backs as a devastating blocker. It is the way the wide receiving corps is filled with a handful of guys who could be impact players on any team in the country, yet sacrifice catches to keep defenses guessing. It was the way Dee Milliner patiently waited his turn to start in the Alabama secondary, only to show he may become one of the best in the program when he was given a chance.
Alabama answered plenty of questions on Saturday night but have plenty of room for improvement. While Milliner was tremendous throughout, the secondary as a whole gave up some big plays, and at times McCarron narrowly missed connecting with his receivers on big plays down field.
It was the perfect win for Nick Saban. It established Alabama’s position at the top of the college football world, but still gave the Alabama coach plenty of film he can use to coach up his team. As good as the Tide were on Saturday they’ll need to continue to improve because after the statement that was made, the target on their backs got that much bigger.