Following the "loss" to West Virginia, an eerie shadow crept across the Capstone, engulfing all happiness and life into a desolate, bleak, and soulless gaping pit of despair. As David and I slowly walked up the stone-cold steps of the Mal Moore Athletic Facility, I sensed something evil off in the distance, as if it knew we were coming and waiting to swallow us alive. As I reached the press conference, the room was surprisingly quiet, as if everyone's faces were sewed shut by the fear of impending doom. Slowly and steadily, an imposing figure approached the stand. We all sat in silence, and waited for the terror to begin.
Weekly Saban Wardrobe Watch Presented by Coca-Cola: Nick Saban is in all black today. Insert jokes about Saban being in mourning over the game, getting ready for a funeral after the death of the secondary, and understanding that you can't wear white after Labor Day so he just went all black today. At this point, this space will from now on be sponsored by Coca-Cola, because either Nick Saban loves it, or Alabama has done a hell of a job with product placement.
NOTES from the Presser:
- Players of the week chosen by the coaches are as follows: Amari Cooper, Jalston Fowler, T.J. Yeldon, Jonathan Allen, Landon Collins, Cyrus Jones, Adam Grifith, J.K. Scott, Scott Cochran, Katherine Webb, Mark Ingram, Will Muschamp, U.S. Senator from West Virginia Joe Manchin, and Coca-Cola.
- Jalston Fowler was chosen because he did a great job blocking, Cyrus Jones was chosen because he held his own in coverage and make big plays, and Landon Collins was chosen because until the defense drastically improves he will the be the default choice every week because of his skill set and lack of other options.
- Saban said after reviewing the win, it was a very good win. Lot of encouraging things including: intangibles, toughness, effort, physicality, never lost poise, and Clint Trickett was no where near Kristen Saban.
- Saban staed that Florida Atlantic had a pretty good year last year and really got off to a good start against Nebraska until their quarterback got hurt. Ah, thanks Nick, that explains why Florida Atlantic gave up 55 points, their quarterback got hurt.
- DeAndrew White has a should injury and probably will be about for about two weeks, so I'm guessing Chris Black will get some time in his stead at the Z spot (moving over from the H or slot position). Jarrick Williams has a Jones Fracture in his foot, and will be out for about 4 weeks, meaning that Geno Smith and Maurice Smith should both see time at the star position. And finally, every single Alabama fan will be grumpy until the Florida game because of "Spoiled Fan Syndrome."
- Saban said the execution has to improve consistency wise, between miscommunication, poor blocking and tackling, wrong line calls, and only beating 4-8 from last year West Virginia by 10 points after winning 3 of the last 5 national championships.
- Saban stated that Blake Sims did a good job during the game. He had a couple open guys that he missed, and had a couple good throws that were dropped. Including Christion Jones dropping an easy breadbasket lobbed deep ball by Sims. Because it's not like he is the kick/punt returner or anything and his main job is to catch balls lobbed like that.
- Saban also thinks the only major negative by Sims was that in the second quarter they were taking too long to get plays out of the huddle. Which makes sense why Jacob Coker was shown warming up in the second quarter; it doesn't matter how well you play, as long as you can handle Saban's assignments correctly. In fact, you could say Sims not getting out of the huddle quick enough was almost the "Blakeing point." Thank you thank you, I'll be here all day.
- Saban said Sims settled down more after moving into a no-huddle offense, in which he more decisively controlled the offense and started to make more plays with his legs. In essence, Blake Sims became the "Blake Runner."
The best movie poster ever made.
- Saban said they will try to work both quarterbacks in against Florida Atlantic, but no plan is in place yet. He also said when he finds out, he won't tell us how he'll do it. And here I thought Nick Saban was such a nice guy.
- With Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster playing linebacker for the first time, there were a lot of errors made in the play calling and adjustments early on. There was confusion so the linebackers made the wrong calls while the secondary played the right call, or vice versa, leaving some players uncovered. Granted though, if both the linebackers and the secondary made the wrong call, then the defense ends up working because everyone is covered. See Mom, two wrongs can in fact make a right.
- Saban got angry at a reporter when asked about the team's focus against the two upcoming non-conference opponents. Saban said that the focus of the team is getting better, and it doesn't really matter who they are playing. I get what he is saying, but I think we can all agree we are glad we are playing Florida Atlantic next week and not Texas A&M.
- Continuing on this rant, Saban said why does the external factors of who they are playing matter? It shouldn't be if they play against Michael Jordan they play their best game and if they play some nobody they don't play as well. "That's not how I think, and if it's how our players think, I'm going to be pretty pissed." Personally, I disagree. I'm pretty sure the Alabama Crimson Tide could handle Michael Jordan in football very easily.
- Saban was happy to have Lane Kiffin on the sideline. He said it would have been very difficult without him, and that he did a really good job managing Blake Sims throughout the game. In fact, you could say Kiffin is running "Sims City." Okay fine I'll never write again.
- All jokes aside, we all need to take a step back and breathe following the conclusion of the game. There is a lot to be upset about, but this is a very young team (Phil Steele ranked Alabama as 107th in returning experience) that has a lot of room to grow.
- In particular I was very pleased with how the offensive line improved throughout the game. Even while there was some struggles in pass blocking early, Sims was never sacked during the game. The run-blocking was also very impressive in the second half and overall had a big edge on West Virginia in the trenches. With the growth of Cam Robinson, the leadership of Austin Shepherd and Ryan Kelly, and the fact Alabama has about 4 guys who could start at guard, the offensive line should become a strong point by the end of the season.
- As much as we want to hate on Bradley Sylve following the performance, he did do one thing correctly: execute assignments. Yes he lacked the size to compete for the ball in the air, had very little awareness with the ball in the air, and showed poor tackling in the open field. But as long as he can execute assignments, I imagine he will grow in the rest of the areas. If not though, Eddie Jackson is really close to returning. So the secondary might not be a disaster yet.
- What was more concerning to me was the play of Nick Perry in pass coverage. We really underestimate how good HaHa Clinton-Dix was last year in how he allowed Landon Collins to be more aggressive and take more liberties in coverage. Granted we almost need Perry in for run support alone, but with the loss of Jarrick Williams, Geno Smith will most likely taking over the Star role meaning either Perry has to get a lot better in coverage or Jabriel Washington will have to step up soon. Another option is Maurice Smith really steps up and takes over the star role, and Geno Smith can play more safety in coverage. Regardless, it will be very important to watch over the next two weeks how the defense communicates in the Nickel and Dime formations.
- Coach Saban has mentioned several times since the game how the hurry up was able to get Blake Sims into his comfort zone with the offense. I wouldn't be shocked to see much more of both the pistol formation and a quicker tempo element being incorporated into the game plan. That is unless Jacob Coker seizes the job the next couple of weeks, as you could argue Sims played well enough to be named the starter moving forward.