Should Alabama and Auburn be concerned?Published 1:42pm Thursday, September 5, 2013
After watching a ton of games last week – which carried unmercifully into Monday evening – it became quite apparent that right now, Alabama is NOT the best team in the land; in fact, not even in the SEC.
Point: Alabama defeated Virginia Tech 35-10. The score was a mirage of the real story.
If you take away three touchdowns not scored by its offense, the score was 14-10.
I know defense wins championships, but when you are playing a future opponent that has a decent defense and an offense to go along for the ride, then you had better come with your “A” game on both sides of the ball.
The Hokies were awful on offense yet outgained the Crimson Tide, 212 yards to 206.
If Christion Jones misses the bus or he is suspended for the first half for signing 4,000 off-season autographs, Alabama is in for a world of hurt.
Jones scored on a 72-yard punt return, a 94-yard kickoff return, and teammate Vinnie Sunseri stepped in front of a Logan Thomas pass and returned it for a 38-yard interception and touchdown.
Fact: Alabama had to replace three starters on the offensive line, which some Tide fans will argue that they were the best ever in college football history.
The Alabama running game – which is its strength – looked slow, and average.
Granted, Virginia Tech’s strength this year is the defense, as it is returning nine starters.
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s mantra was “stop the run” at all cost, which was suited to an Alabama team that likes to run at all cost.
So if stopping the run was the battle cry, then why did Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron only complete 10 of 23 passes for 110 yards and one touchdown?
He also threw an interception.
Alabama used seven running backs, but only gained 96 yards on 38 carries.
The Tide has until Sept. 14 to figure it out.
They need to forget about chasing history (winning three consecutive championships) and figure out how to contain Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Make no mistake, Manziel is just cocky enough and has plenty of offensive weapons.
He will have six defensive starters back for their showdown with Alabama.
This is not the same Alabama from the past two years; not even close.
They have a favorable schedule, but after watching LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina and even Georgia – who lost to a very good Clemson team – I believe the Crimson Tide may be only the third or possibly fourth-best team in the SEC.
Now for the Auburn Tigers.
Point: Auburn got away with a much needed win over Pac-12 bottom-feeder, Washington State.
They also gave up 464 yards to a Cougars team that finished 3-9 in 2012.
Washington State quarterback Connor Halladay picked apart the Auburn secondary for 344 yards.
He was sacked only twice, and he threw three critical interceptions, one in the end zone on first and goal late in the fourth quarter.
Prior to the last interception, the television announcers pointed out that the Tigers got away with two pass-interference situations in the fourth quarter that were never called.
The officials were from the SEC.
At this point, Auburn has no passing game and a suspect running game.
On defense, a sustained Red Wolves running attack will leave the Tigers vulnerable.
Fact: In comes Arkansas State, which had 672 yards of offense and four running backs with over 100 yards each on the ground.
I know it was against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but the Red Wolves are well stocked with returning starters and this is the same offense that scored 45 on Oregon in 2012.
Michigan over Notre Dame.
Miami over Florida.
Oregon over Virginia.
Georgia over South Carolina.
Until next time …
Meyers is a sports columnist for The Outlook. You can follow him on Twitter at @brucemeyers11.