Alabama has given head coach Nick Saban something to complain about. Well, he was certain to find something to throw a temper tantrum over, but a 35-10 victory over Virginia Tech is going to keep him up at night.
While some coaches are satisfied with a 25-point victory over a respectable opponent on opening weekend, Saban pushes his players a little harder and wants excellence. He doesn't want to see dropped passes, turnovers and poor execution on either side of the ball.
That's what Alabama provided on Saturday afternoon.
The offense managed only 11 first downs, 206 yards and turned the ball over once, which is sure to drive Saban up the wall. The offensive line looked like a leaked faucet and couldn't prevent any penetration, as Alabama averaged 2.5 yards per carry on 38 rushing attempts.
Sure, give credit to Virginia Tech's front seven, but the lackluster performance wasn't expected. The Tide just didn't seem motivated and weren't playing with that chip on their shoulder we've become used to seeing. They knew they were the heavy favorites and had more than enough talent to toy with the Hokies for 60 minutes, so they did just enough of what it took to win.
Well, at least wide receiver Christion Jones did, as he scored three touchdowns, two of which were on special teams. Quarterback AJ McCarron completed only 10 of 24 passes for 110 yards and an interception. The defense also allowed a 77-yard touchdown run and left many receivers open deep, but Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas wasn't able to capitalize.
Avoiding complacently is Saban's top priority. Winning three of the last four national championships can have players feeling there is a conveyor belt of crystal footballs making their way to Tuscaloosa.
Saban spoke on this topic during halftime, via Marc Torrence of Bleacher Report:
First of all, we’ve given them two big plays on defense, which is bad, and we had a turnover on offense. We are not blocking them up front at all. They are a good defensive team. We have no consistency and sustainability on offense, so we are going to have to do a better job of being able to control the ball. We can’t protect well enough to pass it. We are not running the ball very well. We’ve got a lot of work to do in cleaning up what we need to in order to play better on both sides of the ball. But, on the long run, we are totally out of position, so we just have to play better. We are going to get the ball in the second half so we’ll see if we can play better on offense. Special teams have done a great job scoring two touchdowns.
Just because last year's team won the title doesn't mean another is soon to come. And just because you're the favorite to crush an opponent does not mean an upset can't take place. Alabama didn't play its best game and simply lucked out that Virginia Tech played that much worse. The Hokies couldn't move out of their own way to make the game competitive.
Alabama was able to win off pure talent and a couple of big plays. However, the team must play better and act like it's truly chasing a third straight national title if the dominance is going to continue.
Saban has once again found something to improve and will be sure to remind his players that being satisfied is never an option.