TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — AJ McCarron wasn't in a talking mood, and it was hard to blame him.
On a day when four other Top 25 teams put up 70 or more points against cupcake opponents, No. 1 Alabama could only muster 31 against Colorado State. Only 24 of those points came from the offense.
So it was hard to criticize McCarron—who is a regular in the interview room during the week and after games, win or lose—for being a little short with the media.
Were there problems with chemistry?
"We just didn't communicate."
What do you attribute that to?
"Communication, we didn't do it."
Did they do anything to frustrate you defensively?
This went on for about a minute-and-a-half, before Marq Burnett of The Anniston Star asked McCarron if there was a reason he was being so short.
"Nope," McCarron responded. Then he looked over at a UA official, who ushered him off the stage.
(Watch part of the interview via Michael Casagrande of al.com)
Seven days after Alabama lit up Texas A&M to the tune of 49 points, the offense looked lifeless against Colorado State in the Crimson Tide's home opener.
The unit only mustered 338 yards on the night and didn't get its first third down conversion until late in the fourth quarter. It didn't score its first points until the end of the first quarter. It went three-and-out four times.
And it wasn't just the offense that was struggling. The defense gave up too many big plays, considering the competition it was facing, and the Rams were able to threaten in Alabama territory multiple times.
Senior linebacker C.J. Mosley didn't try to dodge the obvious.
"That's not an SEC opponent that we just played and the win really wasn't what it should have been," he said. "So I felt like we kind of got away with a win. We didn't dominate that win."
In a way, it was almost easy to see the letdown coming. The same thing happened last year after a season-opening stomping of Michigan. Alabama responded to its lifeless 35-0 win over Western Kentucky with a 52-0 thumping of Arkansas on the road.
Alabama was also missing some of its top playmakers. Amari Cooper sat out with turf toe, Kevin Norwood didn't play either. And running back T.J. Yeldon was suspended for the first quarter after his touchdown celebration last week.
On defense, Deion Belue, Jarrick Williams and Nick Perry were all in street clothes, and Alabama used three new starters at cornerback.
Still, the signs of a letdown were all there Saturday.
"Anytime you play in a big game (the week before), you come out and you want to respect your opponent, I don't think we did that tonight, especially up front," guard Kellen Williams said. "It's just a difficult thing to come off an emotional win and then play again. Obviously we're kind of young and we've got a lot of fundamentals and emotional things to work on."
So where does Alabama go from here?
It has a week to prepare before Ole Miss comes to town for Alabama's SEC home-opener. Ole Miss-Alabama isn't exactly a battle of SEC heavyweights, but the Rebels have looked dangerous this year, especially on offense.
The Crimson Tide know they can't have a repeat performance against much steeper competition.
"We always have the right game plan, it's just the way we execute," Mosley said. "We've got to know, playing SEC football, some of the little things we messed up today will get us beat next weekend and the weeks to come."
Such is life at Alabama, where two 25-point wins can be a cause of such hand-wringing among fans. But like most other situations, the Crimson Tide have been through this before and responded with a national championship.
While the meat of Alabama's SEC schedule begins next Saturday, it's not exactly a gauntlet. After Ole Miss, Alabama hosts Georgia State before taking on Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee.
But there are many issues to correct between now and its showdown against LSU, which comes after a bye week after the Tennessee game and will more than likely determine the SEC West champion.
Seeing Alabama's response next week against Ole Miss will show what kind of mettle Alabama really has.
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