On its second-ever visit to Tuscaloosa, Texas A&M was not able to repeat its debut performance. Not even close, actually. The Alabama offense unleashed its full potential, and the defense shut down A&M's offense better than either Mississippi schools was capable of doing. Finebaum's callers, who have been relatively tepid this season, will be back to thumping their chests on Monday. As well they should. It's hard not to have a knee-jerk reaction after watching the Tide today. Crucially, the Crimson Tide faithful were made aware why it took until mid-October for the team to reach new heights:
Obviously I'm wearing my lucky panties today!! #RollTideRoll— Melissa Joan Hart (@MelissaJoanHart) October 18, 2014
In the first quarter, Alabama had 12 first downs and 221 total yards to Texas A&M's zero first downs and eight total yards. Things only continued to get stranger in the second quarter, when Alabama had 449 yards of offense and reached 45 points. Texas A&M went to the locker room with 51 total yards. Nearly ten times less than Alabama. Ten. Times.
When Verne says the words "graphic demonstration of total domination" you think it'll be bad, then they show the box score and it's worse.— Good Bull Hunting (@GBHunting) October 18, 2014
The Aggies' systemic failure on defense can be summed up with: extremely poor tackling and being blown off the line of scrimmage. The output of effort steadily decreased as the touchdowns piled up. Alabama completely shut down the Aggies' running game, and seemed very well prepared for A&M's dangerous receiving corps. Kenny Hill was never able to get into a rhythm, and the growing point margin made A&M increasingly more predictable. When typically strong punter Drew Kaser muffed a punt, the threat meter rose from "meltdown" to "Hindenburg". There will be many people in Texas who go remote control shopping tomorrow to replace the ones smashed against the living room wall today.
A&M's schedule does lighten up going forward. Next week, they play Louisana-Monroe followed by Auburn, Missouri and LSU. Auburn is on the road, but the rest are home games they'll likely be favored in. A&M started the season on fire, and despite the last three weeks being humbling, they have plenty of room to bounce back down the stretch. To do so, the team must stick together after this humiliating defeat. They'll also need to survive tomorrow's film sessions.
But the story of Saturday is Alabama's resurgence. T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry, O.J. Howard, and Amari Cooper are pieces that any offense would be blessed to have. Alabama's offensive line opened up huge holes all game, and gave Blake Sims plenty of time to find open receivers. This was an Aggie defense that had shown improvement this season, but Alabama operated with ease. Bama had a balanced run-pass ratio that featured strong running and many short passes to Cooper. Toward the end of the first half, Sims started completing throws deep, and he also used his legs to run 40 yards for a touchdown on a zone-read play.
Alabama's defense easily had one of the most impressive performances of the season, holding a team averaging 44 points per game to zilch. Missed tackles were rare, blown coverages were practically nonexistent, and Hill was given little time to survey the field. The special teams also looked completely revamped outside of a meaningless return late in the fourth quarter. Overall, both units played with passion and focus.
Today was a perfect storm for the Crimson Tide, and the team appears to be getting better. Alabama probably forced its way back into the playoff conversation with Saturday's domination. The luster on A&M isn't as bright as it once was in the halcyon days of September, but it still has the look of a seven- to eight-win team. But on Saturday, Alabama made them look like a hungover club team. Alabama's future opponents are officially on notice.