Happy Labor Day, everyone. Hope you all are observing the spirit of the day and doing as little as possible while enjoying the company of friends and family. I certainly plan to, so we will keep this short and sweet. As you can imagine, there is plenty to read about Alabama and college football this morning:
Alabama's defensive front is as nasty as advertised. By the end of the game, Alabama only needed to send four rushers to cause trouble in the backfield because the Wisconsin offensive line just couldn't hold up against the Tide's relentless front. It didn't help that starting running back Corey Clement, the next man up in the rotation of stellar Wisconsin backs, was sidelined by a groin injury, but Wisconsin was held to just 39 rushing yards for the game and 1.9 yards per carry as a team.
Run the ball and stop the run. The same things win that always have. The key is to be able to stop all forms of the running game while also holding up against the pass, which is something Alabama struggled with last season. Hopefully the athletes in the secondary will prevent Smart from having to pick his poison this season, so to speak.
The defense asphyxiated Wisconsin’s running game. Alabama’s running game — notably, junior running back Derrick Henry, who ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 carries — gradually wore down Wisconsin’s defense. And the new quarterback? If Coker wasn’t a playmaker, he was absolutely a caretaker, which was all Alabama needed.
If Wisconsin is looking for a positive takeaway for the rest of the season, some solace could be found in the remainder of the schedule. The Crimson Tide validated their No. 3 ranking, and it wouldn't be shocking to see them come in ahead of TCU in the next Top 25.
By all accounts, Wisconsin was a great fan base to interact with and they seem to have a ton of respect for what they saw in Alabama's football team. May they serve us both well by having a great season the rest of the way.
The SEC, meanwhile, won all of its major Week 1 showdowns. After South Carolina’s win over North Carolina on Thursday night, Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama all followed up with marquee victories of their own. With the exceptions of Vanderbilt and LSU (its matchup with McNeese State was cancelled due to lightning), every SEC team won this week. The conference is riding high to start the season.
But those teams lost some bowl games last year! There is little doubt that the SEC provides the toughest competition in the country or that Alabama has one of, if not the most, difficult schedules this season.
Derrick Henry, Alabama, RB: Wisconsin’s had a lot of good backs over the past decade, but the Badgers had to deal with a special one Saturday night. The 6-3, 245-pounder only had 13 carries but still managed to gain 147 yards and score three touchdowns.
Unsurprisingly, Derrick Henry is getting plenty of Heisman love this morning. All he needs to do is average over 11 yards a carry for the entire season and he'd win it handily. That's possible, right?
WR Calvin Ridley: The five-star receiver who's drawing Amari Cooper comparisons had a solid introduction to collegiate football. His three catches tied for second most while gaining 22 yards. After being targeted by Jake Coker in the first quarter, Ridley made his first catch via Cooper Bateman in the fourth period. The seven-yarder was followed by a 13-yard first down and a two-yard gain.
Lots of redshirts were burned in this one, and for good reason. From what I saw out of Minkah Fitzpatrick, Daron Payne, and especially Calvin Ridley, those redshirts would have accomplished absolutely nothing. These guys have serious talent and barring crazy circumstances will likely be out of here after the 2017 season.
"I thought he did a nice job," head coach Nick Saban said. "I thought he was accurate with the ball. He didn't make any poor decisions. He didn't put the ball into coverage anywhere. Did a nice job of executing what we wanted him to do."
Saban made some glowing remarks about Coker, and who can blame him? The guy put on an outstanding performance statistically with very few errors, and the few he made are correctable with a little film work. Alabama fans had to be excited with what we saw out of the passing game, and particularly about the prospects once Ridley gets more involved.
Clement, the replacement for Heisman runner-up Melvin Gordon, ran just eight times for 16 yards. A groin tweak suffered Tuesday had him 70-75 percent Saturday night. Last week, he told AL.com that Alabama "could be run on" after seeing several teams "gash them."
Yeah, that might not have been the smartest thing to put in the papers. Live and learn.
Big plays on offense, big mistakes on defense and the Tigers hoping something good happens when it matters most. This time it was an incomprehensible timeout by Louisville coach Bobby Petrino that allowed Auburn to eventually run out the clock instead of giving the Cardinals — and the thrill-a-minute Jackson — the ball again. It’s a long way from Atlanta to the College Football Playoff, despite the hype shortcut Auburn tried to take this offseason.
Man, if only Alabama had a sure Heisman contender like Jeremy Johnson at QB, just think how good we'd be... oh, wait. Auburn fans got to see for themselves what many of us have been saying all along - Auburn's offense became easier to defend when Nick Marshall left town. Outside of Duke Williams, their receivers are pedestrian and can be single-covered. Teams are going to load the box, force the keep on read-option plays and pound on Johnson all season.
Not surprisingly, the Alabama game was especially popular in the Birmingham television market. Birmingham is known for its huge ratings for college football games -- it has been the highest-rated college football market for 14 consecutive years -- and Saturday was no different. The Alabama-Wisconsin game received a 46.7 rating in Birmingham, which is the highest-rated regular season game in ABC history.
College football continues to grow in popularity.
No. 3 Alabama 35, No. 20 Wisconsin: You've seen this game before. Alabama ran all over somebody, looked mean on defense, and broke in a new quarterback who did fine. If you need a visual, just watch Cam Robinson plowing a Badger all the way off the field. Next.
Yes we have, and we have enjoyed it. Figured I'd just leave that gif of Cam Rob's blocking here. You may also notice a vicious pancake by WR Robert Foster, who then proceeds to help on another defender to seal the edge. Robert will be getting some serious kudos for this play in the film room, and you can bet that NFL scouts will notice as well:
That's it for today, folks. I'm sure I missed some interesting links out there, feel free to add them in the comments as usual. Now go forth and do nothing. Roll Tide.