Alabama not buying into hype; Play action a great tool for Alabama offense
As the Alabama Crimson Tide prepares to take on Western Kentucky in its home opener this Saturday, there is a tough task at hand outside of the usual game preparations. Now, the Tide has to find a way to block out the hype generated by its 41-14 trouncing of Michigan to open the season.
“Everyone thought that we were too young, too inexperienced, couldn’t handle success. Everybody was saying all of those things about our team. Now people are saying something different,” Saban said on Monday. “My questions is: what’s different? Nothing. We’re still young. We’re still inexperienced. We still have things to work on.”
That message and tone is par for the course for a Crimson Tide team that has shown time after time that it won’t be swayed by heightened exposure or expectations when the team is successful. From the veterans down to the freshman, Alabama has made a commitment to not worrying about what the rest of the sports world is saying.
“We had a meeting with Coach Saban, so the next day we told them [freshman] that that was just the first game,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “So don’t get all hyped up about that, because we got a lot more games to come and we got a lot more improvement to do.”
Play action a tool for Alabama offense
The Crimson Tide took advantage of Michigan on numerous occasions on Saturday evening by utilizing a number of formations and fakes. One of the Tide’s most successful passing plays came when quarterback AJ McCarron used a play action fake and turned and fired the ball to one of his targets.
McCarron used a play-action pass to find senior tight end Michael Williams streaking to the corner of the end zone for the Tide’s first touchdown of the season, as well as on DeAndrew White’s touchdown reception later in the game.
“Anytime you throw the ball the quarterback has got to do a good job in terms of selling the play fake,” said Saban. “I think when you run the ball effectively, play-action passes work extremely well because the other team gets more zeroes in to stopping the run. So now, the play action gets greater response from the defense which is going to help you in the passing game.”
Part of the Tide’s success in play action has to do with the ability of the players outside of the backfield to find a way to sell the run, make the defense commit to the run and then get up field and finish their routes.
“Give them a jab-step inside, or anything that looks like a run and break outside as fast as you can and run to the back pylon of the end zone,” Michael Williams said of his job to sell the run on the Tide’s first touchdown against Michigan.
“My job on a play-action fake is to help the quarterback fake the ball one way and then run my route the other way,” wide receiver Kevin Norwood said.
The Tide was successful in executing those fakes on Saturday, and it could provide a valuable tool for the offense’s success through the air in 2012.
Alabama not taking Western Kentucky lightly
One of the most typical thoughts concerning a non-conference game against a team considered to be a largely lesser opponent is that Alabama will be able to cruise through the game with little obstacles. Presumptive as that may be, it has been true during Nick Saban’s time in Tuscaloosa. However, with a 1-0 Western Kentucky team entering Tuscaloosa fresh off a 49-10 victory, the Tide isn’t taking the Hilltoppers lightly.
“I know that you all [the media] don’t think that they’re probably very good, but they’ve won eight out of their last nine games,” head coach Nick Saban said on Monday. “They’re probably one of the better teams, at least in the Sun Belt. For this year, they may be the Sun Belt champs eventually. They’ve got like 18 or 19 starters coming back from last year’s team that won seven out of the last eight games after going 0-and-4.
“Willie Taggart has done a great job there in the three seasons that he’s been there. They put a lot of pressure on you. Their defense really pressures the offense a lot. Offensively, the guy is from Stanford. They do a lot of formations, a lot of shifts, lots of motions. This is a very challenging game for us, and we’re certainly looking forward to the challenges that we have.”
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