Western Carolina vs. Alabama: Postgame Grades from Tide's Win vs. Catamounts

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IINovember 17, 2012

Western Carolina vs. Alabama: Postgame Grades from Tide's Win vs. Catamounts

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    The Alabama Crimson Tide were ticked off today against Western Carolina. 

    And it didn't take them long to show the FCS school who was going to win the game.

    Alabama got three touchdowns from Eddie Lacy and put in their backups midway through the second quarter, routing the Catamounts, 49-0.

    Let’s take a look at how each of the position units grade in this game that pitted an Alabama team that was coming off a disappointing loss to Texas A&M last week.


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    Overall Game Grade: A

    Alabama quarterbacks AJ McCarron and Blake Sims were simply spectacular under center for the game.

    McCarron did a majority of his work through the air, while Sims also used his speed to give the Tide an advantage.

    Going 6-for-6 for 133 yards, McCarron didn't really have to do much through the first quarter-and-a-half. By the time Alabama was up 28-0, Sims took over.

    For the game, Sims was 2-for-6 for 27 yards through the air, but also was the Tide's second-leading rusher on the game with 70 yards. He also had a five-yard touchdown run for the second of his career.

    While it was just against Western Carolina, Sims showed he had a good grasp of the Alabama offense and should give coaches confidence in his abilities should McCarron ever go down with an injury.

    If nothing else, Sims provides a different dimension that teams would have to prepare for.

Running Backs

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    Overall Game Grade: A-

    You really can't complain about the way the Alabama running backs played.

    Led by Eddie Lacy with 99 yards and three touchdowns, Alabama running backs had 215 yards on the ground. T.J. Yeldon added 55 yards and one touchdown, while Brent Calloway had 52 yards.

    The Alabama running game had its way with Western Carolina, rushing for five or more yards 24 times. Now, that's success.

    If the running backs can do that against Auburn next week, the Tide should have no problem beating their in-state rivals.

Wide Receivers

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    Overall Game Grade: B+

    The Alabama wide receivers really didn't have to do much in this game, although they did have seven catches for 138 yards.

    Amari Cooper led the team with 50 yards on two receptions, with both coming on the first drive of the game. One was thought to be a touchdown on 36-yard pass, but Cooper was ruled to have stepped out of bounds on the 1-yard line to give the Tide a first-and-goal instead.

    Other than that, five other players recorded one catch as the receivers got to watch the running game at its finest.

    One thing that must be noted is the running game experienced a lot of success on its outside runs due to the blocking of the receivers. Often times this goes unnoticed, or is credited to the offensive line. The Alabama receivers deserve just as much credit for Alabama's running success.

Tight End

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    Overall Game Grade: B-

    Michael Williams had one reception for 22 yards. Other than that, his main focus was on blocking in the running game.

    Williams has never been real involved in the passing game as he only has 17 receptions on the year.

    But, he'll continue to be key in blocking, helping the running backs spring to the outside.

Offensive Line

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    Overall Game Grade: A+

    A week after having its struggles against Texas A&M, the Alabama offensive line asserted its dominance early in the game.

    The offensive line helped the running game to 300 yards and gave both quarterbacks ample time on pass plays. The line continuously opened up big holes in the running game, helping the Tide to 24 rushes of five or more yards.

    Even better, there were no holding or false start penalties.

    That should allow the players to rest easy, knowing they won't get a butt-chewing from the offensive line coach, who would've likely gotten a butt-chewing from Nick Saban.

Defensive Line

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    Overall Game Grade: A-

    The defensive line was continually in the backfield of Western Carolina, only allowing 70 yards on the ground.

    In total, 13 rushing plays went for one yard or less, showing why the Alabama defense ranks as one of the best in the nation.

    With the defensive line taking care of its job up front, the linebackers were able to mix it up in rushing the passer and going back in pass coverage. That balance kept the Catamounts from getting into any kind of rhythm.


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    Overall Game Grade: A+

    The linebackers were flying all over the field throughout the game.

    Any time a Western Carolina runner would try to get to the edge, the speed of Alabama's linebackers was able to stop them for little or no gain.

    C.J. Mosley led the team with six tackles, including one for a two-yard loss.

    Alabama's ability at linebacker kept the Western Carolina running backs from getting to the third level when they broke through the first level.

    This has and always will be one of Alabama's biggest strengths.

Defensive Backs

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    Overall Game Grade: A+

    When you only allow a team 93 yards through the air, that says something about the quality of your defensive backs.

    Western Carolina threw more in the second half, throwing 14 times out of 25 plays. Still, the secondary held the Catamounts to only five receptions out of those 14.

    Nick Perry led the defensive backs with five tackles, and Deion Belue even had a 57-yard fumble recovery for a touchdowns.

    The secondary could really do no wrong. And, did you actually expect them to?

Special Teams

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    Overall Game Grade: A-

    There was a fumble on a punt return. That was about the only real mistake Alabama special teams had all game.

    Jeremy Shelley was 7-for-7 on extra points to remain perfect on the year, while punter Cody Mandell had two punts for an average of 42 yards. His second punt was only 38 yards, but was downed at the 7-yard line.

    In the return game, there were flashes of greatness. The biggest came on a 28-yard punt return by Christion Jones, who almost took it for a touchdown, only to be caught by the last man.

    In games where special teams can make the biggest different, the Tide special teams did their job, only making one mistake on the day.


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    Overall Game Grade: A+

    There's nothing negative that can be said about how the coaches did their job.

    They called the right plays early on to help the Tide get a big lead, and then they gave younger players and walk-ons a chance to see the field.

    Games against lower-quality opponents give coaches a chance to evaluate those players with actual game film. Who knows, one of those players who got to see game action might see significant playing time next year.

    There was no letdown here. Alabama coaches knew they had the better players and they came out and stuck it to the Catamounts early and often.