While the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide enjoys a bye weekend, be assured coach Nick Saban is working hard to fix some nagging issues that have been keeping the Tide from winning in dominating fashion. Here's some things Saban will concentrate on.
1. Getting Greg McElroy's Confidence Back.
This one is pretty obvious. Mac's looked awfully shaky lately. But here's a surprising fact: Greg McElroy threw only one incompletion the second half against Tennessee. This is encouraging proof that McElroy could get over his mid-season slump and return to his spectacular early-season form.
2. Consistency from the defense, especially on 3rd down.
Before I give the defense any criticism, I have to say this is the best defense I've ever seen. That being said, no defense is perfect. Tennessee was able to attack downfield, hitting Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones for several long gains, and move the football at crucial moments. The Tide needs to start pass-rushing like they were early in the season and cover better on 3rd down.
3. More and bigger holes for Tide RB's
The O-line has certainly bounced back from losing three starters to become a pretty good and functional group. However, they aren't of the same caliber as the '08 line. Right now I would give them an A- in Pass Protection and a B in Run Blocking. Sometimes there just hasn't been many places for RB Mark Ingram to run. If Saban can get the O-line to get nastier and quicker with their blocks, the offense will improve dramatically.
4. Ways to get Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, Marquis Maze, Mark Ingram, and Roy Upchurch the ball in the same offense.
All of these guys are explosive playmakers that are talented enough to get the ball on every play. Problem is, only one or two guys usually get to touch the ball on one play. (Not counting the Wildcat.) Saban needs to utilize these five guys by letting do what they do best. Richardson is known for his tackle-breaking runs on up-the-gut plays and quick throws. Julio Jones is a guy that will take short-to-intermediate passes for long gains after the catch or go and be a deep threat. Speedster Marquis Maze is the top deep threat and makes big plays on a consistent basis. Ingram is the workhorse that wears down a defense, and Upchurch is a fast, ultra-quick back that spells Richardson and Ingram. Use all these guys the right way behind good blocking and you have one of the nation's best offenses.
If Saban can solve at least three of these problems, Alabama will win the national championship. If not, Tide fans shouldn't be reserving any tickets to Pasadena.