An Alabama – Virginia Tech rematch in Atlanta to start the 2013 season probably sounded like a good idea when it was announced.
In reality, the game was one-sided and dull. It was a game decided from the opening moments where the only uncertainty was what the final margin would actually be. It was a game where the ‘Bama offense was vanilla ice cream plain and the defense, save for a play or two, simply toyed with the Hokies.
In short, I think this game went exactly as Nick Saban hoped it would. Don’t get me wrong, there was some extreme ugliness on offense and there was the long TD run surrendered on defense, but I the Alabama coaching staff knew this would be a game easily won and planned accordingly.
I’m not going to dwell on this for long, but here’s some of the obvious ugliness:
- The VT defense stoned our offensive line and snuffed out any sort of running game;
- AJ McCarron was sacked four times and threw an interception. He also looked to be throwing off of his back foot most of the time;
- The receivers didn’t seem to play particularly well; and
- The running backs were somewhat at the mercy of the O-line related to the running game, but also didn’t appear to pass block very well, either;
Our offensive line play is a legitimate concern, but I’m not sure how much to read into their performance yesterday. Arie Kouandjio wound up starting at left guard – after being switched to right tackle midway through fall camp – and was pulled in the second half and replaced by Kellen Williams. I think that says a lot about where the OL is – in flux. The puzzle pieces fit together for the first game didn’t quite fit and had to be adjusted. We aren’t used to that happening under Saban, but it does happen.
It’s also easy to blame the OL for the lack of running game, quarterback sacks, etc., but there can be mitigating factors as well. I did not get the idea that our offensive game plan was very dynamic and I think that was on purpose. I don’t think McCarron did a lot of audibling into other plays at the line. I think there were certain parts of the passing game left out and I think the parts left in were plain, but of more of an intermediate variety. Furthermore, the game was not in doubt from very early on and I think we went even more vanilla at that point.
Defensively, I thought we played well, but I think Tech’s offense is terrible. Give credit to VT for the 77 yard touchdown run right up the gut, but take away that play and you’re left with with 135 yards for the game. Logan Thomas was 5-for-26 passing. They were three of 17 on third down conversions. Again, the Tech offense is terrible, though I think ‘Bama’s defense had a little something to do with that.
Our offensive woes were also sort of a positive for our defense. Though the result wasn’t in doubt, they played under pressure for most of the game as VT attempted to comeback. They responded well and it was good experience for the unit ahead of their next game against Texas A&M.