Alabama soccer panic meter -- rating the Crimson Tide's most pressing factors

AUSTIN, Texas — Nick Saban vacillated between pleasure and frustration as he met with the media following Alabama‘s coronary heart-stopping 20-19 win over Texas on Saturday afternoon.

In a cramped, windowless room inside Darrell okay Royal Stadium, the Crimson Tide’s typically crotchety coach smiled and supplied to assist a cameraman who was struggling to arrange his microphone stand. Then he proceeded to reward his staff’s resilience.

“You gotta say that is good from a aggressive standpoint, i really feel it is good from a staff character standpoint,” he acknowledged. “however after we’ll be the sort of staff that we should be, that we’re ready to being, we’ll ought to play larger down in and down out.”

and that is the place issues started to get prickly as a consequence of almost nothing fully different than Alabama’s grittiness appeared worthy of the No. 1-ranked staff in faculty soccer. maintain in thoughts, they had been larger than 20-level favorites coming into the day. And that was earlier than Texas’ starting quarterback, Quinn Ewers, was knocked out of the sport with a clavicle harm inside the important quarter. nonetheless, it took a closing-second subject purpose to maintain on and beat an unranked staff.

When Saban acquired labored up — when he seemed again on mistake after mistake — he punctuated his sentences by slapping on the plastic desk he was seated in entrance of.

“if you are taking half in video games like this, you may deal with what’s in entrance of you,” he acknowledged. “you most likely can’t fear about all of the a quantity of stuff that is occurring — what people say, what they are saying on ESPN, what you all [the media] say, how a lot you are favored inside the sport. you may deal with what’s in entrance of you. you are an offensive lineman, that is the man you gotta block. in case you are a receiver, that is the man you gotta beat. in case you are a quarterback, you gotta take what the protection provides you. in case you are a runner, you gotta press the outlet and make the proper cuts.”

Saban stepped proper as a lot as a consequence of the highway of an right rant earlier than pulling himself again.

however will that change as quickly as he returns to Tuscaloosa, sits down in a darkish room, clicker in hand, and critiques the tape?

as quickly as the discount of worthwhile fades, simply how frightened ought to he be?

Let’s break down basically the most pressing factors going by the Tide, rating the extent of panic on a scale of 1-5.

Penalties | Panic diploma: 1

It was Alabama’s first nonconference highway journey since 2011. And yeah, the gamers wished to deal with a raucous, file-setting crowd of a hundred and five,213. Plus, it was miserably scorching. however does that excuse a whopping 15 penalties? that is basically the most ever underneath Saban at Alabama and basically the most for the Tide since 2002.

Saban wasn’t procuring for any excuses.

“in case you bounce offsides on protection, that would not have something to do with crowd noise,” Saban acknowledged. “in case you block a man inside the again, that would not have something to do with crowd noise. So an superb deal of them are undisciplined penalties.”

He started slapping the desk as quickly as extra.

“however we have now to have the power to play and handle crowd noise if we’ll play on this league, inside the SEC,” he acknowledged. “as a consequence of every place we play goes to be like this.”

Standout linebacker Will Anderson Jr. even acquired flagged, leaping offsides three occasions. Anderson, who dedicated a fourth penalty when he hit a participant who had already fallen to the underside, acknowledged he was “making an try to anticipate an extreme quantity of.”

If a usually reliable participant like Anderson might catch the penalty bug, probably it is protected to say 15 penalties had been a little bit of a fluke.

Offensive line | Panic meter: 5

however what about these false begins? If Alabama’s line might not maintain its composure at Texas, how is it going to fare on the highway at Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU?

The Tide can work on using a silent snap rely till they’re blue inside the face, nonetheless the exact concern mustn’t be penalties as a lot it is efficiency. as a consequence of all of the optimism constructed up over the offseason, thanks largely to the addition of former Kentucky offensive line coach Eric Wolford, evaporated underneath the strain the Longhorns’ entrance seven created.

It was the identical sort of mediocre play we noticed final season.

Tide quarterback Bryce youthful was sacked twice and was pressured on 12 dropbacks. And the run blocking wasn’t so a lot larger. fully different than an eighty one-yard touchdown run by Jase McClellan, they weren’t in a place to choose up fixed yards between the tackles. Half of Alabama’s 24 rush makes an try had been for three or fewer yards.

With no apparent reinforcements on the best means, the hope is that the highway improves the outdated type means: regular enchancment.

There was a stretch when Alabama punted on six consecutive possessions in opposition to Texas, collectively with three three-and-outs. And Saban was blunt about why.

“properly, we did not block ’em very properly up entrance,” he acknowledged. “We did not shield very properly, acquired strain inside the pocket. Wasn’t very efficient throwing the ball. did not get people open. in all likelihood ought to do a larger job from a planning standpoint, the best means they performed us.”

extensive receivers | Panic meter: 4

Let’s return to the “did not get people open” line. as a consequence of arguably the most vital shock from Saturday was the underwhelming efficiency by Alabama’s receivers.

For the previous 4 seasons, the Tide have been spoiled at receiver. First, that they had the youthful trio of Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs III to lean on. Then alongside acquired here John Metchie and, due to the change portal, Jameson Williams.

We noticed how properly the offense carried out final season when Metchie and Williams had been each healthful and taking half in at an All-American diploma. Williams’ skill to stretch the sphere vertically made everyone’s jobs simpler.

however we noticed in opposition to Auburn and Georgia what it was like after they weren’t each out there.

with out Metchie’s optimistic palms and Williams’ dangerous velocity, defenses felt extra snug loading the subject and going after youthful.

Sound acquainted?

Texas wasn’t precisely frightened with regard to the deep ball on Saturday. solely thirteen of youthful’s 27 completions went to his receivers as a consequence of they merely might not create separation.

Fifth-12 months senior Traeshon Holden has developed properly, however he is basically a possession receiver.

Kobe Prentice is a promising freshman with some explosiveness, however he is inexperienced.

Jermaine Burton was imagined to make a Jameson Williams-like influence after transferring from Georgia after final season — and it seemed that means inside the opener in opposition to Utah State, when he caught a pair of touchdowns — however then he disappeared in opposition to the Longhorns, catching solely two passes for 10 yards.

probably change Tyler Harrell might probably be a distinction-maker as quickly as he sees the sphere. He reportedly ran a 4.24 second forty-yard dash at Louisville’s professional day in 2021, so he has the sort of extreme-finish velocity Alabama has been lacking with out Williams. however Harrell has been out with a foot sprain and Saban has supplied no timeline on his return.

Cornerback | Panic meter: three

The addition of former LSU All-American cornerback Eli Ricks in December appeared to take an already loaded protection and put it extreme.

The Tide already had veteran safeties in Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams. Plugging in Ricks alongside an inexperienced however proficient cornerback like former 4-star Kool-assist McKinstry or Khyree Jackson would make all of the gadgets match completely.

however Ricks’ enchancment was slowed by accidents, and Saban hinted Ricks wished extra time to study the protection. And as quickly as the preliminary depth chart was launched earlier to the season opener, Ricks wasn’t listed as a consequence of the definitive starter.

Judging by what Texas did inside the passing sport Saturday — racking up 5 receptions of 20 or extra yards regardless of having to make a change at quarterback — neither Ricks nor Jackson nor McKinstry seem ready to anchor the place.

Ricks did not current up on the stat sheet in any respect, McKinstry acquired an earful from Saban after he was overwhelmed on at the very least one deep ball and Jackson was pulled in favor of Terrion Arnold after he was overwhelmed a quantity of too many occasions.

the good information is Arnold larger than held his personal, racking up 5 tackles and a move breakup. and there is nonetheless time for Ricks to be the participant he was at LSU.

“I acquired confidence in all of them,” Saban acknowledged, “however when Terrion went into the sport, i assumed he did a terribly good job, made a pair very good performs.”

Quarterback | Panic meter: zero

Panic? Are you kidding? with out youthful at quarterback, Alabama can be doomed.

regardless of taking half in in entrance of a leaky offensive line and regardless of having restricted decisions inside the passing sport, relying largely on working again Jahmyr Gibbs, youthful did not get flustered.

When hope was dwindling — when Alabama was down six factors after a Texas subject purpose and was coming off six straight drives that led to punts — youthful took over with 12:fifty five left inside the fourth quarter and did not flinch. He marched Alabama sixty eight yards down the sphere, rolled to his proper on first-and-purpose and threw a dart off his again foot to Gibbs for the go-forward touchdown.

When Texas responded with a subject purpose to retake the lead, youthful as quickly as extra confirmed his resolve. Getting the ball down one level with 1:29 remaining, youthful accomplished 4 straight passes after which scrambled for 20 yards to arrange the sport-worthwhile, 33-yard subject purpose by Will Reichard.

Afterward, a reporter requested Saban why youthful seems to return up large in essential moments.

Saban laughed.

“Why is he so good?” he acknowledged, grinning. “I imply, if I might actually inform you that, i do not know if i can be doing this.”

Saban then proceeded to place out a quantity of the the set off why youthful gained the Heisman Trophy final season and is taken into consideration a potential No. 1 decide in subsequent 12 months’s draft: the best means he research and prepares for video games, his understanding of protections, his skill to enhance performs.

“And he is right throwing the ball,” Saban acknowledged. “And he is very, very instinctive. I imply, he performs quarterback like a diploma guard in basketball. he is acquired expertise, however he would not simply play collectively with his expertise. he is very properly ready and is aware of precisely what the sport plan is and what he should do to execute it.”

however even Saban’s praise acquired here with a warning tacked on.

“you already know,” Saban acknowledged, “gamers round him have gotten to play properly, too. Quarterback’s a sturdy place to play when gamers round you do not play properly.”

youthful has proved to be a championship-caliber quarterback. whether or not Alabama is a championship-caliber staff stays to be seen.


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