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Initial Impressions from the Louisiana-Monroe Game

The Tide enjoyed a cupcake and emerged healthy.

Louisiana-Monroe v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It’s always hard to glean much from the cupcake games. We never know what exactly the coaching staff is trying to work on for one thing, and the talent disparity is such that it doesn’t take great execution to win the game going away. Still, the Tide got a much needed blowout victory following the game in Austin that drew so much criticism. A few impressions:

Will Anderson played like he had something to prove.

A week after a penalty filled game that saw him make a minimal impact in the passing game, The Terminator played with his hair on fire. He did get called for a horse collar, but outside of that he had a phenomenal game to include a pick six, the first of his career. We need that Will Anderson the rest of the way.

The defensive front remains stout.

Outside of the one scoring drive from Louisiana-Monroe, the front seven dominated the action by allowing only 78 rushing yards on 40 attempts. They were also all over Warhawks QB Chandler Rogers, who managed to complete only 11 passes on the afternoon. This is as deep a group as Alabama has had up front in several seasons.

Kool Aid looks ready to be a superstar.

Brian Branch may have gotten the touchdown, but Kool Aid McKinstry put some serious explosiveness on tape for future teams to fear in the punt return game. Hopefully he gets a chance to make a few plays before teams start kicking the ball away from him. Kool Aid is also pretty clearly the top cornerback on the team, and Terrion Arnold seems to be his running mate.

Kendall Randolph wearing 85 probably isn’t insignificant.

The offensive line still had its shaky moments, but there seemed to be some progress as the game went along. Highly regarded freshman Tyler Booker out of IMG Academy got some significant action and appeared to make an impact. Based on Nick Saban’s comments after the game, it sounds like he may be in the mix to start. Kendall Randolph was wearing his blocking tight end number again, and something tells me he will be filling that role going forward.

The synergy in the passing game still has a long way to go.

There were some great moments, like the opening strike to Traeshon Holden. Amari Niblack get his first significant action, and he contributed a touchdown reception. Starting TE Cameron Latu had one beautiful grab down the seam as well, on a dart thrown by Young.

Still, too often Bryce just isn’t quite in sync with his receivers. He completed 72% of his passes to Alabama players, but unfortunately completed another 11% to the Warhawks defense, one interception on a horrid throw after extending a play and the other behind a WR where timing was off. Some plays are being made, but they just aren’t quite clicking like they should be able to. Hopefully game reps will get them there.

One more week to “get right” before a tough October.

The Tide should get a bit more resistance from Vanderbilt next week, but they will still be heavily favored and should be able to dictate the script as needed to improve. We still need to see someone emerge as a WR1 if anyone on the roster is capable of such, and the offensive line still has work to do. Fortunately the defense still looks outstanding, and in a year where few seem to have a passing offense to put up the video game numbers we have seen in recent seasons, that means something.

Roll Tide.