Watching Alabama football games isn’t always a lot of fun for me. Yes, I love the build-up to the games and the anticipation of the season starting, but the actual watching can actually be tortuous.
I think this is primarily because of my out of whack expectations. Alabama has won so many championships that my expectations are totally unreasonable. I want to win and I want to dominate. I want to compete in such a way that when the game is over, they readily admit they were outclassed and whipped – in every phase. Obviously, this is nuts and these expectations can’t possibly be met.
But watching football lately has become even more tortuous for another reason. I hate the hurry-up, no huddle offense. With a passion.
I suppose I don’t hold it against people if they like the offense. It is, I reluctantly say, a natural evolution of the game. It shows how people adapt and thrive give a certain set of circumstances and I guess that’s admirable. I guess.
But I still don’t like it. To me, it’s basically glorified cheating and doesn’t represent the spirit of the game. People will trot out defenses of the HUNH by bringing up the wishbone offense, but that’s really ridiculous. The wishbone was about mental discipline and physical strength. On both sides of the ball. When the play was over, go to the huddle, get ready and then do it again.
The HUNH is all about deception. It’s not just a no huddle offense. Hurry up, bang, bang run a play. No. This is sprint to the line, lock in the defense and then the O gets to move around, get out of their stances, dance around, look at the sideline and then do what they want. It’s basically cheating and I hate it, so much in fact, that I don’t know how much longer I can stomach it. Life is too short for the HUNH.
Now, with that being said, let’s discuss Alabama – West Virginia.
First off, I was not surprised by the score. Alabama was a mid-20 point favorite, but I didn’t expect them to cover. That doesn’t mean I’m a betting line genius, it just means I was expecting the kind of game we saw (well, up to a point). We had a brand-new QB and offensive coordinator and lots of holes to fill on defense. Things played out accordingly.
Next, let me adjust your perspective: This team will lose a couple of games this year. I’m not totally giving up or trying to be Negative Ned. No, I’m just stating the obvious. Our defense has some extremely big holes in it – holes that we also had last year, and our offense is good, with tons of star power, but I’m not sure Blake Sims can make all of the throws we need to win a couple of the toughest games. That’s not saying he played terrible or poorly. Not at all. He played well. It’s just stating he’s limited.
There are a couple of keys to beating a HUNH team. Dominate the line of scrimmage, play disciplined, assignment football, and be able to cover man-to-man on the corners. We saw the fruits of not being able to do this last year and we saw similar results against WV. The defensive line played better, especially in the second half, but they helped make Clint Trickett look like Jameis Winston. Our corners – well, one cornerback in particular, didn’t play well at all. In fact, it atrocious. It’s not the intent of this blog site to trash people. So there’s no need to type out a lot of vitriol. But let’s call a spade a spade. One of our corners got picked on – repeatedly. And if we can’t get better play – something that we’ve counted on all off-season, we’ll have a long row to hoe this season.
Our linebackers also didn’t play particularly well. Specifically, they didn’t play well in coverage.
I’m not trying to take anything away from West Virginia, but I’m not sure they are a very good football team. Defensively, I know they are suspect. Offensively, I think we made them look a lot better than they really are. With that being said, there are much tougher HUNH teams on our schedule. As Nick Saban noted after the game, now we have some feedback; now the team knows which areas need to be improved. I sure hope those improvements can be made and made soon. Otherwise, we have trouble brewing.
But things were not all bad. The offense racked up over 500 yards. Blake Sims completed over 70% of his passes, we had two 100 yard rushers and Amari Cooper caught 12 passes. That’s pretty dang good for a new coordinator and a new quarterback.
Sure, I don’t think the WV defense is very good, but the offense executed the game plan put before them very, very well. Offensively, there was no room for error in this game. Our defense was hardly breaking their serve and there was no breathing room. Every possession counted and points were needed on each of them. At each critical junction, though, Sims and the offense stepped up and made plays (yeah, well, except for one interception). And when the game was on the line with a 10 point lead and almost seven minutes left, they ate the clock and iced the game. That’s a great first game in my book. It’s a great confidence builder and, most importantly, the team won.
Heading into this game, I expected Sims to play about 70% of the snaps. That was assuming he just didn’t stink things up. I figured the game would be too close for Jake Coker to play much of a significant role. I guess I was expecting a little larger lead in the second half and Coker would play most of the fourth. Obviously, it didn’t work out that way and I think it was a good call for Sims to play the whole way. He was leading the team, they were moving the ball and scored on most every possession. Sims wasn’t playing poorly enough to justify whatever upside Coker could provide at that point.
Unfortunately for Coker, Sims’ play may have secured the starting role for a while. Unless he stinks it up big time against either Florida Atlantic or Southern Miss, I think we know who has won the QB battle. I do think Coker will play some meaningful snaps in the next two games. There is still a good chance we’ll need to lean on him at some point in the year, so the experience will be helpful.
To sum things up, I hate the spread and our team has some significant weak spots this year. We have some huge challenges on the schedule. I’m hoping some significant improvement will occur between now and then. For now, though, I will enjoy being 1-0 and this 33-23 win.