On one hand, that was a really weird feeling game, with a ton of uncharacteristic Bama penalties to go along with an offensive gameplan lacking the usual horizontal attack that Lane Kiffin so dearly loves. Yet, when you take a minute to think about it, it was really a microcosm of the Tide’s entire season.
We saw the Huskies jump out to an early lead while the Alabama offense struggled. Then we saw the Tide defense buckle down and, outside of a couple of scrambles, totally suffocate the opposing offense.
The Alabama offense had to do little outside of not turning the ball over, but, when the time came (getting pinned in the third quarter with the ball on their own 1-yard line), they made something happen.
And that something was Bo Scarbrough. For the first time since Bo joined the Tide, we saw him remove the knee brace that he’s had to wear for the last two years. And for the first time, he was also the feature back for the offense, and basically carried it on his shoulders. Coincidence? I think not.
Many times in the past that I’ve written these Initial Impressions, there was a storyline, some drama, to make a story of. This game, though, was about as boring as they come for anyone not a fan of Alabama or Washington.
The Husky passing game was totally smothered, with an abysmal 3.9 yards per attempt, while Jalen Hurts was little better, averaging only 4.1 yards per attempt. The difference though, was that Jake Browning attempted 38 passes, while Jalen Hurts only attempted 14. Instead, Lane Kiffin chose to give the ball to Bo Scarbrough. The human battering ram moved much faster and more nimbly than any 240-pound man should be able to, and he seemingly broke the tackles, wills, and souls of every Washington defensive player on the team on his way to an Alabama bowl record of 180 rushing yards and a couple of touchdowns.
On the flip side of the ball, we witnessed one of the greatest group efforts anyone has seen since, well, Alabama’s in defense in last year’s semifinal game. One of the best offenses in the nation did not even manage to get 200 yards, and the Tide also forced 3 turnovers, one of which was returned for Alabama’s 11th defensive touchdown of the season. Browning was sacked 5 times, and nearly sacked for at least 5 more. He was harassed by a relentless stream of Crimson-clad heat-seeking defensive missiles all game long, and the rest of his offense didn’t fare much better, as the running game only got 44 yards rushing while the receivers never caught a pass without paying the price for it.
Alabama will either play Clemson or Ohio State, and, at this point, we know where this team’s strengths and weaknesses lie. The defense continues to look totally impenetrable, and the run game has seemed to get better and better every game this year (plus the Scarbot is finally 100% healthy for the first time in his college career). However, the passing game just is not there. Fortunately, neither the Buckeyes nor the Tigers have as good of a secondary as Washington does, so we’ll have to hope that Jalen Hurts can do enough next week to keep the offense from becoming one dimensional on the biggest stage in college football.
This team has one of the best defenses college football has ever seen. Even if the offense is not a powerhouse, it only has to be good enough to keep Alabama from losing after the defense does it’s thing.
One more game, folks, and the Tide is staring down all kinds of history. A dynasty of such that college football has never before seen, a coach with a chance of tying for first all-time in championships, a historic defense, and an the first undefeated season since the 2009 championship.
Break out all of your superstitious traditions this week. This one’s for all the marbles.