Being ranked No. 1 in any poll that matters is nice right now for Alabama, but there is only one day when all of the lofty rankings will matter and that is the night the BCS Crystal is hoisted by the national champion.
At this point in the season the Tide has plenty of positives it can point to, but through these first games there are areas where Alabama and their legions of fans need to have a few concerns.
For this season to be a rousing success Alabama has to run the football well. Right now, they are not the best in the SEC at moving the ball on the ground and this should give Tide fans a reason for concern.
Currently Bama is the sixth best rushing team in the conference and over ten yards a game behind LSU, which is the fifth best rushing team. Georgia is leading the way in the SEC with 226.5 yards per game while Bama is averaging 188.2.
Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon both need to be more productive and a larger dose of Kenyan Drake might also be helpful in lifting the ground game.
Most important to a better ground game is...
Yes...we all know the reputation of this unit. It will be a real surprise if every starter does not wind up in the NFL someday. Yes, Chance Warmack, Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker have all been named to various pre-season All-American teams. They have a great reputation.
The problem is that sometimes they are not getting the job done.
This line has given up eleven sacks. Seventy-one schools have given up fewer. Sometimes there are no holes for the backs to run through. While we need to see the guys toting the ball run harder, they also need a little more help from the big guys up front.
This group has almost universally been recognized as the best offensive line in the nation. The talent is there, but the results are very incomplete so far.
To be the best you don't get to have days like Western Kentucky where your excuse for a boatload of sacks is a lack of "taking it serious."
Something that would help the offensive line and running backs is....
Fowler was much more important to this team than the numbers would indicate. He is a great blocker from the H-Back position or standing at the front of the I formation. He was also a key part of the Tide's special teams.
There is no one else on the Bama roster who can do all the things he was doing at a really high level, and the impact is showing up on the field.
Yes, A.J. McCarron was really good against LSU in the BCS title game. Yes, he is second in the SEC in pass efficiency.
The question lingers because tougher games are ahead and so far Alabama has not been as dominating as expected running the football.
The biggest concern is not his ability in making the short pass, but there are way too many downfield opportunities where he just mises open receivers for big plays.
For Alabama to win the title this year, there is going to be a game where he is "the man" that leads the Tide to victory under tough conditions.
You are right...there is not just a whole bunch to be critical about with this Tide team.
Nick Saban seems to be getting the message across that each game is important and the players look to be buying in for the most part.
The defense is solid. There are concerns that Bama has not faced a top flight offense yet, but this side of the ball is looking pretty solid right now.
The concerns about the running game are legitimate and so are the questions about the offensive line playing to their full potential.
What should the expectations of Tide fans be for the balance of the year? Optimistic. But remember that on any given Saturday.