I could literally write 5,000 words on this game, you guys..
What else can you say other than that both quarterbacks put on an absolute clinic.
Combined stat lines— 48 for 68, 798 yards passing, 8 TD's, 11.7 yards per pass, 98 yards rushing (all Manziel), two INT's (all Manziel).
However, even the most casual football fan could tell the stark contrast in the two signal callers. One calm and collected. The other— controlled chaos.
But if you like offense, and you love seeing the ball thrown all over the field, Saturday's game was just up your alley.
AJ McCarron produced all his yards through the air and, outside of a few boot legs, most of those yards came from within the pocket. (10 different Bama receivers and running backs had a catch.) Early on, he looked a bit rattled by either over or under throwing his receivers, but on the 2nd drive Nussmeier called some easy reads for AJ which seemed to settle him down. Perhaps his best throw of the day was the back shoulder to Norwood for the TD. The flea flicker to DeAndrew White was actually under thrown (AJ really likes to throw off his back foot on the deep pass) but luckily Bell beat his man so badly that the under throw didn't affect the TD.
As the game progressed, so did AJ. He was consistently on target and in control of the offense. He only made a few bad reads all day (the check from run to pass to open the 2nd half just to name one) and only once or twice was a pass nearly intercepted.
Manziel, however, was consistently flushed from the pocket (by our rush or his own choosing) and made a majority of his yards AFTER the play broke down. Like it or not, that is what makes Johnny Manziel so great. JFF plays back yard football and it's maddening to compete against but fun to watch. I know I've said this multiple times over the last 48 hours- Hate the guy all you want but you can't deny his talent. He's got ice flowing through his veins and I for one hope we never see him on the opposing sidelines again.
The fumble by Yeldon put a black eye on what really was an impressive day for the Alabama running game. After reviewing the play several times the blocking was good up front by CyKo and Arie, Fowler took the first defender in the hole but A&M just brought two more guys then we could block. It was an extremely violent collision and Yeldon couldn't hold on to the ball. Them's the breaks sometimes.
More frustrating was that the resulting drive was the 95 yard TD and what should have been a 21 point victory turned into a barn burner.
Fowler looked like the mauler we saw early in 2012 but it may be time to remove him as a H-back and/or lead blocker. He's simply not very good as a blocker and looks uncomfortable as a full back. He's best suited as a between the tackle runner and short yardage back.
I thought Drake looked quick and shifty between the tackles and he provided a nice change up from Fowler and Yeldon.
I'll repeat what Gary Danielson said late in the broadcast- If the offensive line continues to block like they did Saturday and the running game is force to be reckoned with, who can beat or out score Alabama?
DeAndrew White led the way with four catches for 84 yards and a TD. The flea flicker was a perfect call at the perfect time. On Kenny Bell's TD it looked like Alabama was playing against Tennessee or Auburn in 2012, the A&M defense looked that bad. I was on a podcast with GBH on Thursday and I got the impression Clay Honeycutt (the safety who basically just fell down while trying to tackle Bell) isn't one of their favorite Aggies. He lived up to their expectations, so it seems.
OJ Howard grew up right before our eyes and A&M had no answer for him (or anything else Alabama did on offense). Amari Cooper was almost non-existent outside of a nice run after a screen pass. I really hope he's not headed into a sophomore slump but he certainly doesn't look like himself.
The 3rd and goal PAP bootleg to Fowler looked an awful lot like the McElroy to Upchurch call against Auburn in 2009. It was a gutsy call that everyone, outside A&M, knew was coming.
Pre-snap penalties continue to plague this group but good lawd what an improvement from week one. Honestly, they exceeded my expectations by about 100 rushing yards. A&M stacked the box early in the game and tried several stunt/blitz's to confuse the line but they held up nicely. AJ was never sacked and I don't think his jersey even got dirty. If the Va Tech defense isn't that good (as some said this past week) then how bad is the A&M defense? Or is the Va Tech defense really good and the Alabama offense freaking spectacular? GUMPING
From left to right: The Kouandjio brothers, especially Arie, looked more comfortable playing together. However, Cyrus and Arie accounted for all of the OL pre-snap penalties. Ryan Kelly had several nice pulling blocks. Late in the game Bama ran a ton behind RT Austin Shepherd and RG Anthony Steen but on the final drive Steen was replaced by Kellen Williams after showing concussion like symptoms. I didn't even notice the switch till after the game, oops.
I'd grade the OL out with a B+. The only thing keeping them from an A was the pre-snap penalties.
Probably the most impressive defensive unit on Saturday, the D-line's names weren't called very often but that was mainly due to A&M running the ball only 18 times with their RB's (most late in the game). But Hubbard, Pagan, Dickson, Stinson, and company all played very well IMO. True freshman A'shawn Robinson had multiple nice plays up the middle and had a crucial sack on Manziel midway through the 2nd quarter.
For the most part the defensive line stayed in the their lanes, kept contain the best they could, and corralled Manziel far better than a year ago. This unit deserves a slow clap.
My only complaint is they didn't play the read option all that well late in the game but that's a very small infraction given the struggles in the defensive back field.
Did Mosley ever take a snap off? If he did I surely didn't notice. Generally speaking, I felt the linebackers played well but it was pretty much all Mosley with the occasional Depriest sighting.
Someone correct me here but I did not see Geno Smith on the field while 'Bama was on defense. He's listed on the UA Participation list and that was only on special teams. If there is a silver lining for our defensive backfield it's that our 2nd best corner has yet to see the field.
So, depending on the extent of Belue's injury and if Geno can climb his way out of Saban's doghouse, perhaps we will see less of John Fulton in the future (hopefully). BTW John, you're my boy and I love you but I'm really upset at you right now and it's probably best if we don't talk for a few days, m'kay?
Jarrick Williams played well for most the game and was very physical in run support and WR screens. He gets a pass on the horse collar tackle, cause, Manziel. His tipped pass (how does one tip a pass with their helmet?) was the difference in the game. And that was NOT and I repeat NOT a bad throw by Manziel. It was good defense by Williams. Jarrick played the receiver, turned his head at the right time and got his hands up. Same goes for Cyrus' INT in the 1st half. It may have been an odd throw by Manziel but Cyrus was still in good position to make the play.
Landon Collins, Vinnie Sunseri and HaHa all played extremely well. That tandem at safety is a deadly 1-2-3 punch. I know y'all discussed the HaHa "targeting" penalty at length yesterday but that was a
bullshit BS call and that rule needs some serious rethinking. I'd be OK with keeping the rule/penalty but if you can overturn the ejection, the penalty should also be taken away. Let's just say if HaHa had been ejected I'd be buying some sheet-rock today..
A&M TD's in the 2nd half came against Nick Perry (our 4th safety), busted coverage by Landon Collins and another where he got beat in man coverage (3rd safety), Cyrus Jones (our 3rd-4th corner?). Point is if we get Belue and Geno back this unit should be just fine. If not, the Ole Miss game just became a lot tougher than once thought.
- The final drive for Bama that put us up 14 will get most of the attention but the drive right before half set the tone for the rest of the game. It was physical with an excellent balance of run pass. It reminded me of menny buyt not all of Alabama drives from 2012.
-The A&M fans who booed when a 'Bama player went down with an injury can go play in traffic. You are the worst of fans.
The call that Fulton forced the WR out of bounds was terrible and generally speaking the refs called an awful game. .
- The personal foul against the A&M player who lost his helmet, though appreciated at the time, was about as dumb as the targeting call on HaHa.
- I swear, half of Evans' catches came from Manziel just chucking the ball up and letting his guy (who is like what 6-7?) box out the 6-0 DB's around him. Not saying that's a bad play by Evans but how many wide receivers in the SEC can do that? (answer= 0)
- For a guy who is just a selfish punk, Manziel sure did go around to quite a few Bama players post game and shake their hands...Oh, and he went up to Saban as well. What a jerk, right?
- Bama has yet to attempt a field goal outside of extra points. Not sure if we should be happy or scared about that.
- When A&M scored their last TD I turned to my wife and said, "This is a nightmare that just won't end".
There are still a lot of question marks surrounding this team and I'm still not convinced we learned all that much from Saturday. The offense looks great but how much of that was a bad A&M defense? The Bama defense looked terrible at times but, again, how much of that was the A&M offense? The Colorado State game won't help solve any of these questions either but will provide some quality practice reps for our secondary and offensive line.
The most important take away from the A&M game is that Saban proved he can beat an elite HUNH offense and we escaped the game with no serious injuries.