Last Saturday, Alabama flexed its offensive muscles in a way that would make the Hulk blush. Tua Tagovailoa was deadly accurate and Devonta Smith was extraordinarily X-Box-ish. Those two made records fall like an earthquake in Motown.
The offensive line protected the backfield like a government secret. Running back Najee Harris finally began to “fall forward” on his runs and Brian Robinson started finding the holes his plays were designed to hit.
Yeah, the kicker doinked another football off the goalpost, but, at this point, it would be more newsworthy if a ’Bama kicker didn’t hit an upright in a game.
(Apropos of nothing, the heartless, blazing September sun also baked Bryant-Denny to a delicious golden brown. By halftime, my face, arms and even intestines were sunburned. Because I watch a lot of cooking shows, I instinctly laid face up on the bleacher seats so my melted fat would flavor the rest of my body. I was so pink by game’s end I was offered a starring role in the live-action Peppa Pig movie. It was hot, I tell ya.)
Yet, despite all of the sensational moments, the only discussion from the mouths of fans and pundits alike revolves around the Tide’s lackluster defense.
My response to those concerns is, “Ummmm… Do what?”
I certainly do not mean to pump sunshine here (heck, I am sick of sunshine), but let’s step back from the ledge a minute when it comes to the defense. No, Alabama’s “D” doesn’t have the look of its 2011 counterpart. Or 2012. Or 2015, ’16, ’17 or ’18. It’s not even as strong as Auburn’s current squad. In fact, it’s not close.
The Tide has a long way to go on that side of the ball without a doubt and Nick Saban has conditioned us all to demand excellence. However common sense should tell us to practice patience.
Because of various injuries, ’Bama’s defense is young. Really young. I am not even sure half the starting unit can go see the new “Joker” movie without adult supervision. As a man with four children, I can promise you young people make mistakes. It’s a universal truth and will be until our unforgiving, relentless sun burns out.
Fans should really give these kids some time to develop. With two bye weeks, home games against Arkansas and Tennessee and an only moderately scary game at Texas A&M up next, Alabama has more than five weeks to get ready for its first real test against LSU. Now, that particular test will be like taking the ACT the morning after a bar crawl, but there’s more than a solid month for the likes of Shane Lee and DJ Dale to gain valuable experience.
I know statistically the fact the Tide ranks 38th in the country in yards surrendered per game is unusual and potentially frightening. However, what does that ranking really tell us one month in? Texas A&M’s defense is ranked above ’Bama’s, Auburn’s and LSU’s; does anyone really believe the Aggies have a better “D” than any of those three teams? Add in ’Bama’s quick-strike offense doesn’t milk the clock the same way earlier Saban squads did and it makes sense the Tide’s stats are not up to their own lofty standards.
Alabama just regained the No. 1 slot in the AP poll, has a quarterback who is atop the Heisman race and boasts a bevy of receivers who may rivals any wide receiver unit ever. The defense will come around too.
At least, it better or the sun will set on ’Bama’s national titles hopes.