Grading Saturday's game

Another very disappointing loss. <br><br>Alabama fans don't believe in "moral victories." Some may find a measure of strength in the approach, and there is nothing wrong with doing that at all. But the Tide base grew up watching Bama when the term "moral victory" was only used when teams like Memphis, Vandy, Southern Miss, etc, managed not to get blown out by the Tide.

Watching the game and reviewing the game tape, I saw three very glaring weaknesses right now.

  1. Inconsistency at almost every position
  2. Nobody who can break a game open or make the big play when desperately needed
  3. A seemingly growing lack of confidence by the players and the staff in themselves and in each other.

Brodie Croyle is improving.

Quarterback: B+

About the only fun I have watching the games now is observing Brodie mature into a top college quarterback. He is developing poise that usually does not appear until a player's mid-junior year.

Croyle still forces passes, but fewer every week. He is learning how to read his blockers and finding the safer pockets.

And, while Croyle still is a little weak looking off the defensive backs, from my observations he is getting better.

Running Backs: A

As I have said so often, these guys do as much as possible with what they are given.

Shaud is all heart and courage.

Ray is really learning to read the field better.

Castille makes a few freshman mistakes, but hey, he is a freshman.

Alabama finally got some crushing blocks from the fullback. Le'Ron McClain is going to be a very special and important part of Bama's future.

Wide Receiver: C

Le'Ron McClain will be special.

The receivers still quit on their routes a lot after being shocked by a defensive back or linebacker.

As a unit they would help Bama's quarterbacks out a lot if they would fight through the defenders and finish the route.

Personally, I would like to see them get away from the stalk block and going back to smacking defensive backs around.

Offensive Line: C-

So inconsistent.

Pass blocking was very much improved and that's what prevents a ‘D' grade.

Alabama still very seldom moves the line of scrimmage.

From the film, I also saw a lot of standing around, watching the end of the play.

Special Teams: B

Bama's coverage is pretty good, and its protection is getting better.

The Tide's punting and placekicking is improving. Both just need consistency.

Bo Freelend has solidified punting position.

But, I still believe on every level of football being played in the world today, every other team has a "fire" call on a mishandled point-after-touchdown or field goal. Unfortunately, Alabama has tanked several this season, with at least one possibly being the difference in a win or loss.

Defensive Line: C+

Much better job of keeping the opposing offensive linemen off Bama's linebackers.

From what I saw I believe they did a pretty good job controlling between the B gaps.

But, the Tide linemen lose containment several times every game and seldom gets their hands up to try and force a bad pass or knock an attempted pass down.

Linebackers: B-

Ran to the ball very well, but still will not crush a back running a route out of the backfield.

Also, they must shoulder some of the responsibility for blown containment.

Defensive Backs: C-

Bama's defensive backs still watch the receiver catch the ball, then make the play. The exception was Charlie Peprah, who seemed to be looking for the ball earlier Saturday and made a couple of nice plays.

Charlie Peprah looked for the ball.

I realize that when the defensive back is beaten, he just has to turn and run with the receiver and try to make the play. But at some point the Tide need to learn how not to get beaten so many times in each game.

Conclusion

Tennessee tried hard to give Alabama the game several times, but the Tide didn't take it.

At some point, Alabama has to quit waiting for good things to happen, and start forcing good things to happen. The Tide also has to start taking what its opponents give and finishing games off strong.

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.


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