Man, what a snoozer.
The most obvious initial impression from that game is that everyone seemed bored - the players, the fans at BDS, me sitting at home watching- as Bama did what was necessary, and nothing more, to overwhelm a hapless opponent at Bryant-Denny. All in all, things went to plan as USM goes home with a paycheck and Alabama goes home with another win and no significant injuries without having to show next week's opponent much of the playbook.
Maintaining the theme of the day, there really wasn't much to see here. Alabama played a generally workmanlike and uninspired game, largely snuffing out the run game while giving up a few plays through the air against man coverage. Eddie Jackson looks healthy, which is obviously encouraging, and Ryan Anderson managed to get free off the edge for the lone sack of the game. Southern Miss was held under 25% on third down and shut out of the end zone completely, extending the defense's touchdown-less streak to ten quarters. The fact that the defense failed to force a turnover was a bit disconcerting, but again the scheme was as vanilla as it gets. Definitely some concern that a team of this caliber was able to gain more than 200 yards through the air, subpar 5.6 YPP notwithstanding, but to their credit they made a couple of gorgeous catches including a spectacular effort adjusting late to a 36-yarder by DJ Thompson against Eddie Jackson, who was actually in great position on the play.
After seemingly using last week's contest to work on the passing game, the game plan in this one was clearly to pound Southern Miss into submission. No less than six Alabama players carried the ball five times or more in this one, and for the most part yards were gained at will. Blake Sims once again managed the game effectively and even showed a bit more in the vertical passing game, though there was another horribly underthrown deep ball to Cooper in the first quarter that should have resulted in a touchdown. Blake continues to be on time and accurate in the short passing game and opened up the first two drives in the second half with completions over 20 yards, though the nine route to Cooper would have been another TD if the throw had kept him in bounds. Sims once again extended several plays with his legs and scrambled for a couple of first downs. We also saw a glimpse of the zone read game and - gasp! - a TE (Vogler) caught a red zone TD, though perhaps not the one Alabama fans might have expected. In fact, OJ Howard still hasn't caught a ball this season. Jacob Coker entered the game midway through the third and acquitted himself pretty well. He did take a sack on third and goal but in his defense there was absolutely nothing open and Dominick Jackson had inexplicably driven his man deep into the end zone so there would have been a penalty had the ball been thrown. Well, assuming that rule still exists anyway. In any event, Sims clearly has the better command of the offense at this point and will certainly be taking the majority of the snaps next Saturday.
Other Random Thoughts
- Nick Perry managed to get himself tossed for targeting in the second half, which carries an automatic suspension for the first half of the Florida game. Looks like Geno will be the man in that one.
- The defensive line continues to look strong despite the sack total. We haven't seen anything yet in terms of stunts, etc. and the pocket was collapsing pretty quickly on the Eagles for most of the afternoon. Running lanes were scarce as well.
- This running game looks strong, and for the most part the offensive line has maintained a fairly clean pocket. I expect to see Leon Brown starting again at RG next week and continue to be encouraged by the play of this unit.
- Thank goodness the SEC schedule is starting next week. Did I mention this was boring?