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Initial Impressions from the Mercer game

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It was ugly, but the Tide got the win and Mercer got a paycheck.

Mercer v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Nick Saban was outwardly pissed at his team’s lack of focus in practice this week, and it showed on the field in Alabama’s 48-14 win over Mercer.

That’s the problem, of course. Alabama was able to play relatively poorly for much of the afternoon and still win easily. They haven’t played a team of this caliber since 2019, and like it or not that’s a tough thing to get “up” for.

The defense did its job in the first half, allowing 50 total yards without the services of starting CBs Josh Jobe and Jalyn-Armour Davis, both of whom Saban said should be back next week. Kool-Aid McKinstry started at one of the spots and looked good. It initially seemed as though he was burned in man coverage on Mercer’s second touchdown, but based on Nick Saban’s reaction on the sideline it was pretty clear that Daniel Wright was supposed to be over the top. Here’s how Cecil saw that conversation.

In any case, the offense was always going to be the greater concern all season, and this one was not pretty in that regard. The offensive line was spotty, starting with Chris Owens getting completely toasted on a speed rush, allowing a third down sack on the first series of the game. There were too few holes in the interior, and Bryce Young was under far more duress than he should have been considering the raw talent discrepancy of the two rosters. There were a couple of bad drops as well.

I thought Young looked a bit tentative today when facing zone coverage, which he didn’t see much of against Miami. It almost seemed as though he was afraid to throw the ball through the windows, which is something a passer with his quick release, velocity and accuracy shouldn’t fear. His passes were almost all either over the top or to the sideline. Unfortunately he missed on several deeper throws, one a drop by Jameson Williams, and finished with a pedestrian 8.4 yards per pass. Both backup QBs played and let’s just hope that Bryce stays healthy, OK?

The running game was hit and miss. The offensive line is going to have to get itself together if this team is going to reach all of its goals. Owens played outstanding in the playoffs at center, but he looks like a legitimate liability at tackle. He is going to have to improve or someone else has to step up. It’s quite discouraging that neither of the top two tackles in the 2021 class, JC Latham and Tommy Brockermeyer, have been able to push more for that job.

Will Reichard missed a field goal. Dammit. The punting was fine. JoJo Earle got a little run at punt returner, and it sounds like Saban is hoping he will be able to do more of it. Of course, that will be up to JoJo and how he develops.

Alabama fans everywhere held their collective breaths when Will Anderson limped off the field, but it sounds like he is going to be OK. There were no other injuries worth mentioning.

Really, that’s about it. These FCS games seem so pointless, don’t they? On to Florida.

Roll Tide.