Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide gained a ton of momentum for the rest of the season with a dominating 41-14 win over No. 8 Michigan in its opener.
The biggest statement of college football’s opening weekend was made when No. 2 Alabama demolished No. 8 Michigan 41-14 in the Cowboys Classic.
The victory officially closed the book on skeptics who wondered aloud whether the defending national champions would lack the hunger to make a run at its third title in four seasons.
Now the question becomes how can Nick Saban and his club keep its freight train humming with a tough SEC slate ahead of them?
Here are four ways that the Crimson Tide can keep the momentum rolling from its huge triumph over Michigan.
McCarron looked like he picked up where he left off from the bowl game.
New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier’s opening act was a masterpiece by most accounts, and Tide fans have to be pleased with the development of quarterback A.J. McCarron.
Kevin Norwood and DeAndrew White headlined a deep group that made plays all night and signify that the receiver unit is more dynamic than last season’s outfit.
The Tide’s 199 yards accumulated through the air may not seem like much, but the potential is clearly there for that total to increase as the season moves forward.
With an offensive line that may be second to none in the country, McCarron and his receivers appear to be on course to give Alabama its best passing attack since Saban’s arrival at the Capstone.
Belue and Sunseri were solid for most of the night, but had a few blown coverages as well.
Alabama’s defense was able to fluster Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson for most of the night, but Michigan’s dynamic dual-threat signal caller was able to beat the Tide’s corners deep on a few long passing plays.
With players like corner Deion Belue and safety Vinnie Sunseri making the first starts of their careers, mistakes are almost expected to happen.
However, with a pass-heavy Arkansas team waiting for them in Fayetteville in two weeks, Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will look to fix those leaks in a hurry.
Yeldon was the most effective out of the Tide's deep group of RB's.
Saban may not like the term “committee” when discussing his talented stable of running backs, but the quartet of Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon, Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart wore down a Wolverines defense en route to the tune of 232 yards rushing on the ground. (h/t, lostletterman.com)
Yeldon—a true freshman seeing his first action on the college level—stole the show with his 111-yard debut performance, but the strength in numbers for the Tide backfield almost seems unfair with a dominant wall of blockers leading the way.
Each player brings something unique to the table, and considering the physical nature of the running back position—all of them will likely be called upon to step up at various points in a long season.
Cooper is one of several freshmen that should continue the develop over the course of the season.
One of the more overlooked factors that led to the Tide’s dominating performance against Michigan was the fact that several players who ascended to starting roles got their feet wet as backups a year ago.
Alabama has brought in three consecutive recruiting classes billed as the nation’s best by at least one major recruiting service.
Considering the wealth of talent that Saban has been able to lure to the Capstone, the competition that Alabama goes through in its own practices may be tougher than what it sees on most game days—which helps the Tide rotate players without suffering any dropoff.
The ability to accumulate depth at key positions will be beneficial to the Tide later this season and for years to come.