Looking at the box score, there are three things that really jump out from last night's game:
- Penalties, Penalties, Penalties: Last season the Crimson Tide finished 5th in the country in fewest amount of penalties with 57, but committed 10 last night for 83 yards, including two completely boneheaded decisions on the part of the usually level headed Rolando McClain. The mental discipline we showed as a team last year to avoid penalties was not on display last night and it's something that really needs to be worked on.
- Statistical Dominance Doesn't Equal Scores: The old cliche "the only stats that matter are on the scoreboard" was certainly true last night. We held the ball for almost an entire quarter longer than the Hokies, doubled their first downs, and outgained them by 204 yards rushing and 139 through the air (343 yards total)....yet still only held a ten point advantage when the game was over and had the fight like hell in the fourth quarter for that. The Hokie red zone defense held us to field goals in the early goings (including one that could have sent us into the half with the lead that missed), and Roy Upchurch's fumble at the end of a long run that could have set up another scoring opportunity didn't help. Again, mental errors on our part kept Va. Tech in the game, and leaving scoring opportunities on the field like that isn't something we need.
- Third Down Efficiency Needs to Improve: After watching Alabama play with some brutal efficiency last season, it was especially frustrating seeing us convert only 6 of 17 3rd downs (only 35%). The Hokies were stuffing our ground game on first down a lot of the time, and we were shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties as well, so hopefully this is something that can be rectified over the next few weeks.
Players of the Game:
Offense - Mark Ingram
|vs Virginia Tech / 9.5.09||Rushing||Receiving|
With 99 of his 185 total yards coming in the fourth quarter, Ingram effectively iced the game for the Crimson Tide after struggling early on. His 150 yards rushing was a new career high for him, and he's shown that he is more than ready to fill Glen Coffee's shoes as the primary running back for the Tide.
Defense - Eryk Anders
Though Anders was our best edge rusher on passing downs last year, I'll admit that I was a little worried about him taking on an every down role. He's smaller than your prototypical Jack linebacker and really didn't do anything but rush the passer last year, so I didn't know how well he would fare against the run or in coverage. With 8 tackles (2 for loss) and a forced fumble last night, he's put some of my fears to rest.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Deaderick
Shot on Monday, lining up against Va. Tech on Saturday. You are not tough.