“We have to remotivate ourselves” senior linebacker Nico Johnson said. “We haven’t been playing to the Alabama standard in the past few weeks.”
While Alabama looked unbeatable in the first eight games of the season, the flaws were quietly hidden. The team struggled to make tackles on defense and the offense at times struggled to finish off games. Yet, the Tide were undefeated and all was well in Tuscaloosa.
Then came a trip to Baton Rouge where the Tide were exposed. Missed tackles were evident as the defense struggled to get off the field on third down. LSU Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger, once an after thought, was now looking like a Pro Bowl quarterback. Offensively, Alabama struggled for one of the few times on the season. Turnovers and three-and-outs plagued the Tide; something they had not done all season long.
But even through the mistakes, Alabama was able to overcome it all with a 28 yard screen pass from AJ McCarron to TJ Yeldon. While the win kept Alabama undefeated, it also made things difficult.
“We didn’t play as well as a team. You all don’t think so because we won one and we lost the other one”Alabama head coach Nick Saban revealed. “I was concerned then.”
The story was all too familiar to Saban, who referenced a similar scenario from his time in Baton Rouge as head coach of the Tigers.
“It’s kind of the bluegrass miracle phenomenon (2002 LSU/Kentucky game)” he said. “You play bad, you win the game. The next week you get your (butt) kicked because no one responded to playing bad because you won on the bluegrass miracle.”
While the team may have struggled to refocus before, now, there is no room for error. With Western Carolina and Auburn remaining, it is the time for Alabama to remotivate themselves as they fight for an SEC title and perhaps something more.