Alabama Offense Needs Improving

Despite outgaining its opponent 328-224 and outscoring Western Kentucky 35-0, top-ranked Alabama's offense is looking to improve before heading to Fayetteville, Ark., to open SEC play.

"We had a rough day," said senior Alabama center Barrett Jones, ever the master of understatement. "I was pleased with the (offensive line's) effort. It was really the (lack of) execution. I think we learned that when we don't bring our best game, we're pretty average."

Jones said the Hilltoppers' defense did some things the Tide had seen on film, and some they had not.

"They packed the ‘box,' like we expected. It's hard to run the ball when you're out-manned by two people. We had a lot of missed assignments, too," he said. "I really didn't think it was an effort issue. We were playing really hard.

"They did show us some things that we were not prepared for."

With a trip to Fayetteville looming, Jones said the offensive line "certainly will have to play better than (Saturday), and we will."

The Hilltoppers held Alabama to 103 net yards rushing, while Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron threw for four scores and 219 yards on 14-19 passing. Said his center, Jones: "If we had protected him better, he could have had a career day." (McCarron did have a career-tying four touchdown passes, but was sacked six times.)

McCarron split his scoring tosses equally, with two each to Kevin Norwood (three grabs, 92 yards) and Christion Jones (three for 47 yards).

Of his performance, Norwood said, "AJ (McCarron) was looking at me, and I just had to make the plays. I've been hungry for these touchdowns for over three years now, so I had to make the plays."

He and Christion Jones both made plays, but both saw plenty of room for improvement.

"The passing game can always get better," said Norwood, echoing the sentiments of his head coach Nick Saban from a few moments earlier. "We'll keep on working on our timing with AJ (McCarron). Chemistry between receivers and the quarterback is something all the receivers worked on all summer, and it starts with the offensive line. Then, it's up to us receivers to get off the line and get open for the quarterback.

"It was an okay game for us. We didn't play our hardest, but we made things happen as time went on. We know we have got to go back in and make corrections, and we have got to play harder for the SEC game down there at Arkansas. We definitely have to take it up another notch. We can't play that way down there at Arkansas. The one thing we have got to do is go back there and make corrections and make sure we get our timing right with the quarterback and just look at film and see what Arkansas does."

Christion Jones' performance was duly noted by both Saban and Norwood, who said "(Christion Jones) is working hard. He's one of the ones who got out there this summer (during ‘voluntary' pass skeleton drills against the defense) and got better."

Christion Jones was pleased with how his team started (with 21 points in a quarter-and-a-half), but… "To be a great team, we've got to start fast and finish strong. I don't think we finished the way we started (Saturday). "

Christion Jones added, "All our receivers are trying to get better," echoing Norwood's statements. "We never know when our number will be called, because we're primary a running team. We all work hard to try and help the team, whether it's blocking, running routes, or catching the ball."

Of McCarron's strong game, Christion Jones said "There's no favorites" when it comes to spreading the ball around to various backs, receivers or tight ends. AJ's really stepped up. He's really just picked up where he left off in the National Championship game. He's getting better and better. The things we worked on in practice, like our timing between the receivers and the quarterback, really showed up in the game (Saturday)." Both Jones' and Norwood hope – and plan—for Alabama to put on a better overall offensive performance during the visit to Arkansas next Saturday. Kick time on CBS is set for 2:30.

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