First, congratulations to Coach Shula, the staff and team. Very well done.
The first quarter looked like a spring training first scrimmage. Alabama played like a team with a first year head coach and a sophomore QB.
A couple of things that stick out: The offense didn't panic and chunk the game plan, and, the defense (Coach Kines) made the necessary defensive adjustments and had them in by mid-second quarter. The results, our guys gained confidence on both sides of the ball and our coaching staff put them in a position for the best opportunity for success. And, in reality, that is all you can ask of a coach on game day.
Mentally and emotionally, I doubt if there is a team anywhere as tough as our kids. I don't think Coach Shula and the staff could have asked for a better game to build on for the coming weeks. A lot of our strengths were confirmed and a lot of areas we need to work on exposed.
Grading the total game, I have to give Brodie a B+.
After he got his composure and confidence, Brodie showed streaks of his potential. The mistakes he made are really typical of a sophomore QB. He should get better every game.
Running Backs: A
They are being coached to take care of the ball and run hard. They are doing both, with the exception of the fumble.
I gave them a high grade mostly for the unselfish way they played. Each one made several great blocks.
Wide Receivers: A-
Great routes. Showed really good athleticism. All they need now is to develop skills for after the catch. They ran good routes even when they knew they were not going to get the ball.
Saw some good blocks. They didn't play as physical as in the past, but that may not be a bad thing at this point.
Offensive Line: A-/B+
Tough to grade, but would be a low A to high B.
I can't really rip them because they are doing very well with the technique they are being taught. They are not being coached to blow the defensive linemen off the line with a vertical step. Instead, they are taking a more lateral step and then muscling the DL off the line of scrimmage.
As the game wore on, they eventually dominated the DL (Thanks again Coach Pollard).
Linebackers are not blocked unless they are blitzing.
Special teams: B+
Much better than last year. Much more aggressive and physical.
But there is too much arm tackling and diving for feet. And, although the KO coverage was so much better, there were still gaping holes and gaps that the return man didn't get to because of the hustle of our cover guys.
Can't argue with our punt return results, with the exception that Shaud should be running bleachers for his diving attempt for the last punt. That is a freshman in high school mistake. Actually, I don't think Shaud should have been in the game at the point anyway.
Defensive Line: B+/A-
We got caught in no-mans land a little too often. In this defensive package, too much penetration by the DL puts the linebackers in a bad position. Seams are created that are hard to fill.
The ends also got caught out of position a few time and lost containment.
Great job getting their hands up in the pass rush.
Coach Kines found ways to get to the QB Saturday. We will need to get there a lot more as the season moves on.
Linebackers: A and B
‘A' on stopping the run. ‘B' on pass coverage.
This group is going to be memorable for Bama. They are physical. They play with heart. And they work together very well as a unit.
Defensive Backs: B+/A-
Again, tough to grade. They are playing the techniques they are being coached. I would say a high B to low A again.
I like how physical they are after the catch. But I really believe we need to be more physical before the pass is thrown.
About mid-second quarter, we did better bumping, but we have got to make the WRs think about getting hit.
We also need to knock them off their routes.
I cringe when I see the DB running foot to foot with the receiver and not looking for the ball.
USF is a pretty good football team. They should do well in their conference. But I believe they would be whipping boys in any of the larger conferences.
I was surprised to see South Florida sucking wind so quickly. And I believe I heard that they had more than a dozen players treated for cramps.
South Florida's game plan, like a lot of passing teams, was to sling it all over the field and hope for the best. When they have better athletes, they have a good chance to win. If not, they have nothing to fall back on and will lose a lot of games.
EDITOR'S NOTE: David Bittinger is a veteran high school coach, now teaching in North Alabama. Each week during football season he'll watch the games with some of his coaching friends, and afterwards pass along some of their thoughts/comments about what they saw.