The Alabama defense is rolling strong after its first October game. In fact, lately, the Tide has been forcing more shutdowns than the U.S government. Last week’s 45-3 win over Georgia State (0-5) marked the third-straight game in which the Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0) kept its opponent out of the end zone, only giving up a total of three field goals in those contests. Now, Alabama is eying an even more impressive defensive feat – a touchdown-less calendar month of football.
I wouldn’t say the odds are in the Tide’s favor, but there is definitely a chance Alabama could extend the streak to six games and complete its October schedule without yielding a TD the entire month. Bama’s next three opponents rank 99th in scoring offense (Kentucky), 88th (Arkansas) and 56th (Tennessee). Not to mention they represent the SEC’s bottom three in total offense – Arkansas is 12th, followed by Kentucky and Tennessee.
Remember all the shock and concern over the Crimson Tide giving up 42 points and the most yards in school history to Texas A&M? Well, it turns out things in Tuscaloosa are not so much in defensive disarray, and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart’s job is as secure as ever. Say what you want about the level of competition, but in the Tide’s other four games this year, they have surrendered just one touchdown and 19 total points.
Overall, Alabama ranks fourth nationally and is tied with Florida for tops in the conference in scoring defense, giving up a little more than 12 points per game. But those numbers could get even smaller by the end of October.
None of the three teams remaining on the Tide’s October schedule can come close to hurting them the way A&M and Johnny Manziel did in September. Number one, the respective quarterbacks at Kentucky (Maxwell Smith/Jalen Whitlow), Arkansas (Brandon Allen) and Tennessee (Justin Worley) are nowhere near as athletic or talented as last year’s Heisman Trophy winner. Number two, none have the same caliber playmakers on the perimeter either.
So far, when teams have been able to hurt Alabama, they’ve done it through the air. But Kentucky is only 10thbest in the SEC in passing offense, while Arkansas (13th) and Tennessee (14th) are even less prolific throwing the football.
The Wildcats are equally as bad running the ball (13th in the SEC). And while Arkansas (216 yards, 4th) and Tennessee (211, 7th) both average more than 200 rushing yards, grinding up the Crimson Tide defense on the ground has never been a viable game plan since Nick Saban arrived. Alabama is only yielding 85.8 rushing yards per game, which currently ranks second in the SEC behind the Gators (65).
The Crimson Tide appear to be poised to steamroll through its October schedule before having the first week of November off to prepare for a huge SEC West showdown with No. 10 LSU on Nov. 9. By that point, Alabama’s defense could be tops in nearly every single category and gunning for the Tigers’ newly explosive offense.