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Jumbo Package: A suddenly vulnerable Alabama gets back to work

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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Syndication: Gainesville Sun Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Happy Monday, everyone.

First off, I’m going to get this out of the way. There isn’t going to be a meltdown thread this week. It just wasn’t a great week for upsets or online rage, and as I mentioned last year, I’m not going to spend time scouring the internet for mediocre content just to say I posted it. Yeah, there was some whining from fanbases of top teams that won ugly including our own, but the vitriol and humor just isn’t the same there. Additionally, real life is intervening a bit this week. I will be denying subscription fee refunds from 1:30am - 3:00 am on Wednesday, so get those requests in now.

As you might imagine, lots of folks around college football were happy to see Alabama struggle.

The fifth-largest crowd in the history of The Swamp was on hand for this one—a sweaty 90,887 on a sticky day in this college football mecca. Fourteen-point underdogs, they saw their team get down 21–3 after the first quarter, claw their way back with a stunning rushing performance and nearly shock the college football world with the comeback of comebacks.

At one point, the Gators amassed three straight touchdown drives of at least 10 plays and 75 yards, and one of them was a 99-yard haul that had Nick Saban physically throwing up his hands in the postgame news conference. They ran for 258 yards on the Tide, converted five third downs and a fourth down and averaged more than six yards per play.

Run the ball, stop the run: The Crimson Tide finished with 28 rushing attempts for 91 yards, and it’s clear at this point Najee Harris is missed. Brian Robinson managed 91 yards on 5.2 yards per carry and new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien stuck with the running game. It’s just not a game-changer through the first quarter of the season.

Florida, meanwhile, had 245 rushing yards and averaged 5.8 yards per carry with a diversified attack they stuck with. The Gators scored three TDs on their first three possessions in the second half, too. That’s a credit to quarterback Emory Jones.

Through 10 quarters this season, Alabama looked borderline invincible, dominating Miami, Mercer and Florida for a half. But then the Gators came to life in the second half on Saturday and put the scare of a lifetime into the Crimson Tide. Suddenly, the offensive line wasn’t great, the defense couldn’t stop the run and a normally disciplined team committed a slew of penalties. The offensive line just couldn’t handle the noise inside the Swamp, and that could be an issue moving forward with trips to Texas A&M and Auburn in the future. — Alex Scarborough

If this team still needed a wake-up call, they got it. One thing that came to mind in that game was the we have truly come full circle with Saban’s defense. The personnel is now better suited to limit spread passing games, and they no longer practice against the heavy run game we saw from Florida. Also, did some of the players fall into complacency with a big early lead, perhaps? Saban seems to think so.

“What concerned me most is we could not maintain our intensity, especially on defense,” Saban said. “We had a lot of mental errors.”

Saban said it appeared as if players got tired and were reeling as the game wore on. He wondered whether more players would need to play in the future to provide fresh legs.

If so, hopefully another valuable lesson will be learned.

The close game cost Alabama nothing in the polls.

The top five teams remain the same, led by No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Georgia. The Crimson Tide still have all but one of the 65 first-place votes despite needing to stave off a furious rally at Florida. The Bulldogs, again claiming the last No. 1 vote, had a much easier time with South Carolina in their SEC opener and easily retain the second spot.

Oklahoma holds at No. 3, though the Sooners finish just two poll points ahead of Oregon this week after a closer-than-expected result in their reunion with former Big Eight rival Nebraska. Texas A&M again rounds out a top five.

Last, our guys did some stuff yesterday.

Takeover complete.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.