Grading the Arkansas loss

The mark of a good officiating crew in any sport is, after the game, you realize that you never noticed them on the field. Unfortunately, I don't think we will ever be able to say that about SEC officiating crews.

Now that I have that off my chest, Alabama hurt itself much more than the officials ever could Saturday night. The Tide made a lot of mistakes, but when everything is considered and put into proper perspective, it's pretty amazing what this staff and these young men have been able to do.

Unfortunately, in spite of their efforts, Alabama still comes up a little short.

Croyle played well.

I believe that right now the Tide just doesn't have the "go to" guy who can take over a game. For now, Bama doesn't have the guy who can take the game on his shoulders and give the team that final push.

That is not a knock on the players. Alabama has dozens of athletes who are really trying to fill that role. And I believe in the near future, that player will emerge.

Grading the game:

Quarterback: A-

I believe this was the best game we have seen this season at quarterback. Brodie Croyle made a few mistakes, but I believe the good far exceeded the bad.

Spencer Pennington took over near the end of the half, and I don't think Bama was hurt at all. He really showed a lot of poise coming into that situation.

Brodie executed Bama's play-action flawlessly. I wish fans had seen more of it as the game progressed.

Running Back: B+

Alabama's backs run hard every play. However, it looked like the running backs may have slacked off a little on the blocking and a few times didn't do a very good job reading the blocks up front.

I'm afraid the season may be taking a toll physically on these guys. But, no matter how bad they are hurting, I still believe they reach deep and give all they have.

Wide Receiver: C

Ray Hudson ran hard.

Most of the catches were pretty routine. But there were a few chances, I believe three, that should have been routine but were not made.

Other than the touchdown off the play-action at the start of the third quarter, Alabama still doesn't get much yardage after the catch.

Also, I believe Alabama could do a better job running the secondary off the ball on running plays.

Offensive Line: B

Much improved pass blocking and some very noticeable drive blocking on a few plays.

The Tide O-Linemen are still not getting to the linebackers, which may have more to do with the blocking scheme than the effort of the players.

Special Teams: C+

Alabama's kickers and punters are still struggling a bit, but Bama's coverage was much improved.

The Tide doesn't block very well on the returns at all.

Defensive Line: C

Tatum is gaining experience.

I'm cutting them some slack because the Tide had a couple of rookies getting a lot of snaps.

I thought Dominic Lee did well against a very good offensive line. Kyle Tatum struggled, but I believe gained a season's worth of experience.

Bama's D-Line blew containment a few times, once causing a touchdown. And they did not keep the Arkansas blockers off of the Tide's linebackers.

Linebacker: A-

These guys are big hitters. But still have a hard time getting off blocks. Right now, they are being coached to play a more lateral technique. I would like to see them get the opportunity to play more vertical.

Demeco Ryans is all over the field and is a very aggressive tackler.

Whoever said Derrick Pope is too short to play linebacker obviously has not seen the man play.

Freddie Roach gets better every week making his reads and is not afraid to lay the wood to any ball carrier.

Defensive Backs: B-

Alabama finally forced some turnovers. But the defensive backs still watch the receiver make the catch too much.

Anthony Madison got his first interception.

Still, these guys are some of he hardest hitters I have seen. Most defensive backs get the reputation as "ankle biters" when tackling. Not these guys. They will pop anyone under the chin.

I really wish the group would turn around and find the ball better.

Conclusion:

The effort was there Saturday to beat most everybody on Bama's schedule. But through no fault of their own, the Tide players just have so many obstacles to overcome this season.

I'd encourage the fans to keep staying behind these guys and let them know that you love ‘em every chance you get. You had better believe that as bad as the fans are hurting today, the athletes are hurting much worse.


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