Franchione acknowledged that the defense did not have "a stellar first half," but pointed out that the unit played much better in the second stanza. "We still only gave up about 240 yards," he said. "We got the shutout in the second half and had some key red zone stops."
He was very pleased with Alabama's offensive production to begin the game, noting that the Tide drove to three straight scores. As a former offensive coordinator, Franchione was especially proud of the Tide's offensive balance. "I think we had 38 run calls yesterday and 30 pass calls," he noted. "I'm pleased with the balance we're putting together."
Franchione said that the Tide kicking game was generally solid, with the notable exception of two fourth quarter punt attempts, one of which was blocked and the other resulting in an incomplete pass and turning the ball over on downs. Asked if he was still reevaluating the decision to play an injured Lane Bearden, Franchione said, "we reevaluate every day," but that it would be a decision left up to Bearden and the Tide doctors.
Penalties were a problem Saturday. At one point Franchione drew a flag himself, protesting the evenhandedness of the calls. "Certainly they didn't miss any of ours yesterday," he noted regarding the number of offensive holding calls made. "We're not saying we didn't deserve them." Franchione was careful not to violate any league policy against criticizing officials, but the Tide coaches clearly did not believe the calls were consistent.
For the second week in a row, Triandos Luke was the Tide's leading receiver. But Franchione denied it came from any special effort to get the junior wideout the football. "He hasn't done anything different (the last two weeks)," Franchione said. "The way the game plans have gone and the way the quarterback's reads have gone, the ball has been going to him. When a guy keeps making plays and certain routes continue to be open, you're going to get back to them. On his last touchdown, that was the second time we called that route. Several of the other routes we had run a time or two before.
"Until a defense does something to take that away or stop them, then we'll try to get back to those plays."
Franchione had praise for the recent play of Hudson. The sophomore A-Back contributed Saturday as a runner, receiver and kick returner, though he did leave the game early, apparently shaken up on a kickoff return.
Asked if that injury might prompt him to take the redshirt off true freshman tailback Kenneth Darby, the response was "No. It would take far more injuries than that before we would be pressed into that action."
Franchione identified the various Players of the Week:
- Offensive Back: Tyler Watts and Triandos Luke
- Offensive Lineman: Alonzo Ephraim
- Special Teams: Chris James
- Defensive Line: Brooks Daniels and Kenny King
- Defensive Back: Charley Jones and Hirchel Bolden
- Offensive Scout Team: Dennis DuBois, Andy Harrison and Grant Dickey
- Defensive Scout Team: Jeremy Clark, Corey Harris and Will Yates
After nine games, the Tide defense is ranked third in the nation, scant yards behind No. 1 LSU. "We're much farther along in our scheme," Franchione said. "That's probably the area where we've made the most improvement on our football team in the last 14 ball games."
Saturday's victory was accomplished in the friendly confines of Tuscaloosa's Bryant-Denny Stadium, but the Tide must now go on the road and play LSU. Alabama will be going for its fifth-straight conference road win.
"Our success can be credited to great focus by our players and the ability to shut out the crowd," Franchione said. "We've gotten off to good starts and taken the crowd out of the game. We haven't let the opponents feed off the crowd's energy. The biggest thing is we've played well. We've played together. We've been well prepared, and we've been very focused on our task at hand.
"To go on the road and win in this league like we've been able to do is difficult. It's been a great job by our players."