From score alone, the Alabama Crimson Tide did everything it needed to do against a quality opponent after a big opening week win against USC. Yet, if you look closer, you will see a Monet at work. It was plain ugly at times.
While Alabama coach Nick Saban did end up playing both quarterbacks, it was true freshman Jalen Hurts who got the bulk of the snaps today against Western Kentucky. Hurts, who was 23 out of 36 for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns, looked about as good as any true freshman is going to look starting two games into the season.
Hilltoppers head coach Jeff Brohm's potent passing attack was largely kept in check by a swarming Tide defense, although they were able to pull off some nifty trickeration during the first quarter of action.
The Crimson Tide is no doubt the number one team in the country. Little has been shown from any other team to the contrary. However, with a trip to Oxford looming large, the Tide has some serious weaknesses if you pull focus just a little bit.
Here are 3 thing we learned from the Tide's victory today:
1. It's Hurts. At this point, it's pretty much Hurts: We here at Team Speed Kills don't want to put the cart before the horse, but given the reps Jalen Hurts received today over his primary competition redshirt frosh, Blake Barnett, it's safe to assume this is the guy Saban and OC Lane Kiffin want.
He wasn't always great against the Hilltoppers, but he did what he needed to do: he limited mistakes, he managed the offense well, and he tossed some serious balls out there to at least five different receivers. He did hold onto the ball for too long on several different occasions though, and this will absolutely crush him against Ole Miss, Texas A&M and LSU. If he gets this and many of the other freshman whoopsie-doos under control, it could be a lot of fun to watch the Tide offense in 2016.
2. This team is prone to dumb mistakes: There were at least seventeen points left on the field today and most came from costly penalties and one really bad snap. Basically, the offensive line is still a work in progress. Yes, the Hilltoppers were loading the box with seven and eight players and this affected the Tide's ability to run, but the false starts and holding penalties and dropped passes really kept this game from being more lopsided than it was.
Hurts wasn't always on the money with his throws, but when he was there were two easy touchdowns to be had from them: one dropped by grad transfer Gehrig Dieter in the third quarter and one dropped by O.J. Howard in the fourth. All of this could be a product of "overlooking one's opponent," but the talent and experience at the receiver position should always be there to bail out their QB.
By game's end, the Tide accrued 12 penalties for 84 yards, which is very much unlike a Saban-coached team. This statistic bites teams in the rear in conference play.
3. The 2nd team on both sides is...phew their bad: The number of things that could go wrong for a single team in the last four minutes of a game pretty much went wrong. The Tide scored their last touchdown of the game to go up 38-3, held WKU's next drive, then, it pretty much turned to crap from there.
On the first offensive snap of the next series, Barnett fumbled his handoff with true freshman running back B.J. Emmons and WKU pounced. Three plays later, the second team was caught sleeping on a fade and the Hilltoppers scored their lone touchdown of the game. To see Saban's response after this turn of events was to witness a silent comedy rivaling any Chaplin or Keaton movie.
There was some hysterical arm flailing, a lot of yelling, and plenty of mugging for the camera. I couldn't necessarily tell what he was saying, but if titles cards were to appear between each rant it would probably go something like this..
"WOW! That's a tough break, Mr. Kiffin"
"Did you see that, kid?! See, a touchdown was made and you stood there. Like a CLOWN!"
*arms flail as he throws off his headset*
"Hold these for me, Frank. I just cannot believe this buffonery! Goodness me."
The Tide will be playing Ole Miss next week at 3:30 and if you really want to be entertained, you just hope this Tide team messes around like they did today. Gird your loins, because you will be witness to wrath in its most unfiltered form.