Can Bama offense find its footing against Aggies?
That’s how long Alabama has had to work out some of its kinks on offense. And based on what everyone saw in the Georgia Dome on Aug. 31, there were some significant kinks to work out. Sure, the top-ranked Crimson Tide easily handled Virginia Tech in the season-opener. But it wasn’t because of the offense.
The running game never really got going. AJ McCarron never really got in rhythm. Even sure-handed star wideout Amari
Cooper dropped a ball.
Alabama was able to clear one hurdle with a sub-par offensive performance. Clearing a second hurdle — one that’s much more daunting — with a sub-par offensive performance may be asking too much. Come Saturday it will be the sixth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies lining up against the Tide, and considering the firepower the Aggies boast on offense, the Tide
may need its offense to be not just improved but vastly improved if it ends up needing to match Johnny Manziel & Co. point for point.
A quick glance at the number of points Texas A&M has given up in its first two games (31 to Rice and 28 to Sam Houston State) would seem to give Nick Saban reason for optimism that this could be the week the Alabama offense gets on track.
But point totals don’t tell the whole story.
The Aggies have been less than full strength on defense through the first two games due to multiple suspensions. Well, the suspensions are over. This Saturday – when Alabama comes to town — Texas A&M will be at full-strength on defense for the first time this season.
“We don’t really feel like they’ll change defenses,” Saban said Wednesday regarding the return of Texas A&M‘s suspended players. “So the scheme will be the same; the players will be better. It’s going to be a challenge for us because they’ve got a really good defensive package, and they’ve got a lot of different ways to pressure — drop eight guys, do multiple things that make it difficult for you to maybe be consistent on offense. We definitely need to do a little better job than we did last year — especially early in the game — of attacking their defense because they did a really good job against us a year ago.”
For the Alabama offense, everything starts up front. The offensive line, which is breaking in three new starters this fall, has to knock guys off the ball if the running game is going to get rolling, and it has to protect AJ McCarron if the passing game is going to take flight. No one would have given the O-line good grades in either one of the those departments in the season opener.
However, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin for one isn’t buying the notion that Bama’s O-line might be the team’s weak link in 2013. While many saw reason for angst in watching Alabama’s offensive line performance on Aug. 31, Sumlin saw something else.
“I saw a bunch of big athletic guys that are really highly recruited players that were playing in their first ballgame against a pretty veteran Virginia Tech team that threw a lot of different things at them from a blitz standpoint,” he said. “You know they’re a talented group, and they’ve had a bye week, and they’ve taken this time to get those (kinks) figured out.”
And the rest of Alabama’s offense concerns Sumlin just as much.
“They’ve got talent across the board offensively,” the Texas A&M boss said. “… Their talent level at the skill positions is as good as there is in the country. AJ McCarron has real weapons on the perimeter — Christion Jones, Kevin Norwood,
Amari Cooper can all fly, and then you throw in DeAndrew White.
“It’s going to be a heck of a challenge for us because all those guys are home run hitters. They have the capability to go wire-to-wire whenever they touch the ball.”
Capability? No one would argue that. The real question is whether or not the Alabama offense can do something it didn’t do in game one.
Tap into its capablities.
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