With higher expectations come higher goals

The Crimson Tide silenced its critics with 60 minutes of explosive football, as they thrashed the North Texas Mean Green 53-7 in front of 92,012 at Bryant-Denny. It was the highest-scoring game for Alabama since a 56-7 win over UTEP in 2001. Saturday afternoon, the Tide competed better on special teams.

Alabama's kickoff coverage showed discipline, leveraging their coverage and maintaining their assigned lanes. Tiffin's solid kickoffs served as the catalyst to the overall units' production. They had great location, hang time, and distance.

Tiffin finished the night with two touchbacks. He was also a perfect 2-2 on field goal attempts. The downside, two failed PAT attempts. This is not a concern; I can assure you it's already corrected. Punter P.J. Fitzgerald saw limited action with one punt.

An electrifying returner is important. It can mute the opposing teams momentum and provide the offense with a favorable drive-start. It goes a long way in shifting the momentum in your favor. The allusive Javier Arenas did just that, turning in another solid performance. Arenas exploited an over-leveraged kickoff unit for 61-yard return. He finished the night with four punt returns for 90 yards, increasing his school-record yardage to 1,472 yards.

The past two seasons, the Tide has allowed three kickoff returns for touchdowns (FIU's T.Y. Hilton, Virginia Tech's Dyrell Roberts, and Clemson's C.J. Spiller). Prior to the three returns, the Crimson Tide allowed just three kickoffs returned for touchdowns against them in the previous 31 years. Since 1960, only eight kickoffs have been returned for touchdowns against Alabama.

In my opinion, the best is yet to come. The one constant you can expect from SEC competition is the skill-guys are going to be better. The conference has many of the top return specialists and coverage units in the nation. Alabama will need to ramp it up a notch in terms of how they continue to improve. Overall, special teams improved. I firmly believe this is a key component that is instrumental to Alabama's success.

This week will give us a better indication into the success of our season with the beginning of SEC play. We're about to find out how good Alabama is. Starting Saturday the gloves come off. The next five or six weeks will tell us what we need to know. The depth got a little deeper last Saturday.

A Classic Matchup:
Ever since 1992, when Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference, the game between the Crimson Tide and the Razorbacks has been a barometer for the SEC West race. One of the two teams has been in the division race virtually every year, and rarely has the loser of the game bounced back to contend for the championship. The matchup between Nick Saban, who hangs his hat on defense, and Petrino, an offensive mastermind, makes this game all the more intriguing.

For the Razorbacks, it's an opportunity for payback after being handed the third-worst loss in the history of Razorback Stadium. Last year, Alabama handed Bobby Petrino a humbling setback in his first Southeastern Conference game as Arkansas' head coach. This year, Coach Petrino should expect the same result he was handed last year, a humbling setback.

The National Landscape:
No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Texas have held firm to their spots all season. No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Mississippi moved up one spot in the latest poll, giving the Southeastern Conference three of the top four teams in the nation.

Jamie Christensen is the only player in Crimson Tide history to kick consecutive game winning field goals, as well as three last second, game winning field goals in one season: vs. Ole Miss on October 15, 2005, vs. Tennessee on October 22, 2005, and The Cotton Bowl vs. Texas Tech on January 2, 2006.

Christensen was in Tuscaloosa from 2003-2007 and played under coach Mike Shula (4 years) and coach Nick Saban (1 year).

He is a graduate of the Culverhouse College of Commerce with a B.S. in Business Management, B.S. in Marketing and a minor in Finance.

Christensen is a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch in Atlanta [click here].

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