Against Tennessee, Alabama showed that it is the type of team capable of winning another national championship.
The Crimson Tide has had a very impressive season to this point. Despite losing a good number of defensive players to graduation and the NFL, the team has allowed the fewest points per game in the country.
Offensively, Alabama has averaged over 40 points per game and has not even given opponents a chance to stay in contests.
However, this past week was easily the team's best performance of the season. The defense completely shut down one of the better passing attacks in the country and the offense showed its versatility against a quality opponent.
Prior to this game, the Tide had relied on its rushing attack to the move the football. While it had been successful, the offense had not yet faced an elite opponent. The unit needed to know that it could get production from other positions.
A.J. McCarron used the Tennessee game to put on his best performance since winning the national championship at the end of last year. The junior threw for 306 yards with four touchdowns. In one game, he transformed his image from game manager to elite quarterback.
Even though the Volunteers do not have the best defense around, the quarterback made quality throws and was in a good rhythm all game.
Heading into Week 9 of the season, McCarron leads the entire country with 183.6 pass efficiency. He is one of only two qualified quarterbacks who have yet to throw an interception this season, along with Louisiana Tech's Colby Cameron.
McCarron's ability to avoid turnovers is an impressive skill regardless, but he has now proved to himself and the coaching staff that he can take care of the football while also throwing the ball down the field.
With the quarterback now a threat to beat opponents deep, the already solid run game will be even better. Running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon can beat any defense, and the team should be fine if either player gets injured.
Alabama's schedule gets much tougher starting this week. Undefeated Mississippi State comes into town on Saturday, followed by a road trip to LSU.
Each team has a defense better than anything the Tide has seen this season. In order to be successful, the coaching staff will need to use a balanced attack from the offense.
Fortunately, the players on that side of the ball have just proven that they are up to the challenge.