The Tide Takes the Offensive
It is mid-season and the Crimson Tide is (6-0) and ranked #2 in the Associated Press poll. So far this season we Bama fans have witnessed, some of the best football we have seen in the last 15 years.
The Tide is on the way to the top, there is no doubt about that, but we are not there yet. Here are some observations, both bad and good, of Dixie's football pride's offense.
Where better to start our observations, than with senior quarterback John Parker Wilson. So far this season we have mostly seen a much improved JP Wilson. The game that opened my eyes to just how much progress JP has made, was the Tulane game.
The usually solid Bama offensive line, was missing two of its starters who were out with injuries. Without tackle Andre Smith, and guard Marlon Davis, Bama struggled to run tosses and sweeps.
The inability to run the ball forced the Tide to become one dimensional. Once Tulane had taken away Bama's rushing attack, their defensive backs were able to key on our receivers.
With our receivers covered, and the Tide unable to effectively move the ball on the ground, Tulane was able to pin our ears back and rush John Parker Wilson.
For much of that game Wilson was flushed from the pocket and forced to buy time with his feet. More often than not, Wilson threw the ball away, but sometimes he was forced to take a sack.
This was a far different John Parker Wilson than we witnessed all of last year. Instead of being, finicky, nervous, and forcing ill-advised passes, he was calm, and his presence was almost like having a coach on the field.
Unfortunately Wilson failed to show the same prowess when the Kentucky game was put squarely on his shoulders. When the team relied on Wilson to carry them, he failed, luckily Coffee ran for 218 yards to salvage a victory.
The next improvement I noticed was the ofensive line. The O-line is more experienced then it has been in the recent past, a huge improvement over last years, and Andre Smith is the best lineman to come through Alabama since Chris Samuels.
Andre Smith, Marlon Davis, Andre Caldwell, Drew Davis and Mike Johnson have dominated opposing defensive lines. These five blue collar players are the reasons that Coffee, Upchurch, Ingram, and Grant can terrorize defenses like they have.
The only game the o-line was lacking, was Tulane, there were a lot of missed blocks, and they failed to pick up several blitzes, but lets hope we can chalk that up to injuries.
The Tide also has a stable of running backs that can rival USC. During the Clemson game, Kirk Herbstreet said that Clemson had the best duo of tailbacks in the nation, well if that is the case then 'Bama has the best stable.
Glen Coffee has 95 carries for 708 yards, and 5 touchdowns , that is a 7.5 yards per carry average. Freshman phenom Mark Ingram has carried the ball just 62 times for 341 yards.
However Ingram has 5 touchdowns and just 62 carries. That means once in every twelve time Mark Ingram touches the ball he scores.
Lastly what team in the nation can boast a third string tailback who averages 5.9 yards per game with 2 touchdowns, averaging a score every 15 carries? The Tide can. Roy Upchurch has rushed for 237 yards on just 37 carries. Even fourth string Bama tailback Terry Grant has found the endzone.
The Tide is blessed to have a group of tight ends and receivers who can not only make spectacular catches in double coverage, but have enough pure speed that leave opposing defenses gassed.
Freshman wideout Julio Jones was one of the most coveted players in the nation coming out of high school and now we know why. Just five games into his freshman season the former prep star broke the freshman receiving records at Alabama, racking up 4 touchdowns.
Tight end Nick Walker has had more receptions this year than he had both years he played under Mike Shula, and almost as many receptions he had last year, Saban's first year. Walker has been a security blanket underneath for Wilson and has two touchdowns so far this season.
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