Tough game, tough grades

LSU is a very good football team. They played a sound, balanced, fundamental game Saturday night. The Bengal Tigers certainly seem to be a very well coached football team. <br><br>On the other hand, Alabama is hurting and is down emotionally.

But, as some of the players said in the post-game interviews, the Tide still has to bring its "A" game, and I agree with them when they said that Saturday Bama did not.

The bottom line is that while Alabama is not as good as LSU, the Tide is a lot better than it played Saturday.

Quarterback: B

Brodie Croyle made a few bad decisions throwing and just flat out missed what should have been a couple of routine plays. But, he really didn't have a chance for much success.

Croyle was pressured all game.

For most of the game Croyle was almost constantly running for his life and having to dodge white jerseys. I think Brodie does the best he can running this team on the field.

Running Backs: A running, C blocking

All of Bama's backs ran hard when they got the ball and looked very good when they actually got past the line of scrimmage. That just didn't happen often.

Unfortunately, the Tide runners were not very aggressive or consistent blocking.

For some reason it seems like the backs are trying to block too high a lot of the time.

Wide Receivers: C

These guys have got to start helping the quarterback when he is flushed from the pocket. Most of the time Saturday when Croyle was scrambling, the receivers either stood and watched or just hopped around in the same spot.

Tyrone Prothro had a 35-yard catch-and-run.

Alabama's receivers also have got to become more aggressive when the ball is in the air. Go get it, don't wait for the football to came to you.

The LSU defensive backs made a lot of aggressive plays, often in one-on-one coverage, knocking the ball away from the Tide receivers.

Offensive Line: D

As a group we really hate giving these guys such a low score. Nobody thinks they are lying down. The players on the field seem to be doing their best on most every play.

But there comes a time when an offensive lineman just has to suck it up and find a way to whip the man in front of him.

As a unit it seems like Bama's offensive line has lost a lot of its aggressiveness this season. Certainly Saturday fans didn't see the linemen fire off the ball like they did the previous week against Mississippi State.

Special Teams: D

Protection was okay, but then, LSU never really came after a punt.

Brandon Brooks almost fumbled away one punt.

Coverage has once again gone backwards and the Tide athletes have gone back to ankle biting.

I think Bama's return men have a chance to be special. But they really need help from some aggressive blocking.

Defensive Line: D

Alabama simply got whipped all night. The players come off the ball way too high in the middle of the line and didn't fight through blocks well at all.

Alabama's defensive linemen got knocked back into the linebackers a lot.

The Tide defensive ends didn't get their hands up very often on pass plays, which stood in stark contrast to LSU's linemen who batted down several of Brodie's passes.

Linebackers: B-

The various Tide linebackers got caught up at the line of scrimmage a lot, preventing them from running to the ball.

On the other hand, with Derrick Pope setting the pace they passed several great licks when they did get there. Alabama is going to miss Pope, but I believe the Tide will have a very good linebacking group next season.

Derrick Pope

Defensive Backs: D

It still looks like Alabama's DBs are just waiting on the wide receiver to make the catch, then trying to make the tackle.

We would like to see Bama's secondary at least attempt to knock down passes and start forcing interceptions instead of waiting for them to happen.

Also, I would also like to see opposing wide receivers popped at the line of scrimmage at the snap.

Conclusion

Saturday was a very graphic example of where Bama is as opposed to where it wants to be.

It may take awhile for the team to consistently play at the level everyone saw LSU play at Saturday night. But, I also believe the Tide has a pretty strong nucleus of young men to build up to that level.

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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