Wow – what a game! On Saturday our beloved Crimson Tide defeated Number 6 and ultra-dangerous Texas A&M 49-42. As you might suspect, I have mixed emotions about this game because of how our defense got shredded. However, the fact that our offense came up so big on so many occasions made me really proud of those guys. So let’s get to the action.
The game started about as poorly as it could. A&M won the toss and elected to receive, which was a bold move. However, it appeared to work out for them as they drove the ball right down the field at the expense of our CB John Fulton, and took a 7-0 lead. Our offense went three and out after a couple of careless penalties, and they again took the ball down the field and scored, upping their lead to 14-0.
It’s kind of funny at this point I commented that I thought our defense was playing well even though the results weren’t showing it. My main concern was that the offense didn’t have enough firepower to get back in the game, and the defense would ultimately become deflated. Somehow, it seemed that the light bulb went on for the offense, because from that point on, they were efficient, productive, and frankly, dominant.
AJ started lighting up the A&M secondary through the air, making good reads and accurate throws. Our first TD was a back shoulder fade to Kevin Norwood that couldn’t have been any better, either the throw or the catch. The second TD was a beautiful flea-flicker to DeAndrew White that again was an excellent throw, and even though DeAndrew was wide open, AJ had to dodge a free rusher and throw off balance, so his throw was very impressive. AJ’s third TD came on a perfect WR screen to speedster Kenny Bell. I don’t know if it was called from the huddle or not, but there was a corner blitz that fed perfectly into the design of the play. It was a TD from the instant it was a completed pass. The passing barrage finally started to loosen up A&M’s defense, allowing our running game to get some traction. The final TD of the half was scored by TJ Yeldon on a dive play over the right tackle, after an enormously important 3rd down conversion to our TE Brian Vogler. The halftime score stood at 28-14, and I was feeling pretty good about things, though I wouldn’t admit it out loud.
The second half started with a bang. After we got stuffed on our first series, Johnny Football threw an ill-advised seam route that was knocked into the air by Jarrick Williams and picked off by Vinnie Sunseri. Vinnie returned it all the way to the end zone for a 35-14 lead. At that point, I was really confident, because again, I thought our defense had pretty good control of the A&M offense, and our offense was playing well enough that we could score if and when we needed to. However, we did just enough to keep A&M in the game, setting up a rather scary finish.
In any game this close, there are a number of plays that could have changed the outcome, but I want to point out one play that I felt really was pivotal. With a little over 5 minutes left in the game, we were ahead 42-35, and we had the ball facing a 2nd and 15. To put the magnitude of the situation into context, it is important to note that at this point, we were not ever going to stop Manziel and company again. It just wasn’t going to happen. Therefore, if they would have gotten the ball back down by 7, it was as good as a tie score (or worse), because they were going to score. However, on that 2nd and 15, AJ hit our true freshman and future great TE OJ Howard on a seam route for the first down. The pass was perfect, high enough so that the defense couldn’t reach it, but just low enough for OJ to and his 6’6” height to grab it. That drive ended in a TD after another brilliant play call, and the lead was 49-35 with about 2:30 left in the game. As we all knew would happen, A&M walked down the field and scored again, but we were able to recover the onside kick and run out the clock.
Like I said at the beginning of this blog, I have mixed emotions about this game, but overall, it’s hard to ignore the fact that we just beat one of the most dangerous teams in the nation on their home field in a game that they were targeting as the most important game in their recent history. Given all of that, I feel pretty good about things. Our offense, which was the big question mark after that VT game, appears to be back on track. Our defense got shredded, but I have to think a lot of that was just a mental lapse after they thought the game was over. I’m hopeful we’ll get that straightened out for the rest of the season. So yes, I’m very happy with the win; that was one tough opponent!
Next week we face the Colorado State Rams, and frankly, they’re not any good at all. I expect us to have a letdown after this week’s game, but even so, we shouldn’t have any problems with CSU. We might not cover the 40 point spread, but if there is any point during the game that I’m worried about the outcome, I’ll be extremely disappointed. Next week I should be blogging about a sloppy but satisfying win! Until then, as always, feel free to send me any questions or comments.