Alabama Football: The Good and the Bad of Alabama's Big Win in State College

Brett HudsonContributor IIISeptember 11, 2011

Will Lowery and Dee Millner forcing yet another Penn State incompletion.
Will Lowery and Dee Millner forcing yet another Penn State incompletion.Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Whiteout in Happy Valley couldn't keep the Crimson Tide from, well, playing the Alabama football that its fans have come to know and love over the past few decades. Alabama ran the football well, passed well when necessary, and played downright oppressive defense on both the run and the pass. A good ole' fashioned 1970s beat-down, if you ask me (well, minus AJ McCarron's aerial attack).

The Good

1. Run Defense: Alabama's run defense was absolutely outstanding all game long. We've been watching Joe Paterno coach the Nittany Lions since the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidency and we know he relies heavily on running the football. He just couldn't do it. Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw were everywhere. If it wasn't Hightower and Upshaw, it was Damien Square disturbing the play. If it wasn't Square, then Mark Barron came through and did his thing. Talk about the immovable object.

2. Short Pass Defense: Common football knowledge tells you that if the defense is blitzing a lot and stopping the run, you should run the slant route and throw the ball where the blitzing linebackers used to be. Penn State tried, they really did. No dice. Every time, it was either Dre Kirkpatrick, DeQuan Menzie or Dee Millner making the read and jumping the route for the incompletion. This limited Penn State to nothing but the deep ball, and they simply don't have the skills at the QB position to win that way yet. Especially against the best backdrop in the nation, the Barron-Robert Lester combo.

3. AJ McCarron: His performance, and more importantly how he ran the offense on Saturday, is exactly what the doctor ordered. Beaver Stadium is no cupcake. Now, admittedly, it's no Swamp, which the Tide will have to attempt in three weeks, but it's a pretty good precursor. Whenever I looked at McCarron making adjustments before the snap or talking on the sidelines or anything, he exuded this sense of calm, as if to tell everyone that this really isn't a big deal. Sounds like a starter to me.

4. The Offensive Line: I have faith in saying some Bama fans lost sleep over the offensive line's performance against Kent State. O-Line coach Jeff Stoutland might be one of them. If he was, he certainly showed it in practice this week. I'm not sure that anyone could ask for more in the run blocking department against a team of that caliber. The pass blocking was almost always there, too. Many coaches say the most improvement a team will make is between Week 1 and Week 2, and that certainly was true for the offensive line. That performance lived up to the Best in the SEC preseason hype.  

The Bad

1. The Fake Punt: Ouch. Having a situation to fake a punt in the first quarter is never good. Unless, of course, you're Les Miles, in which case your sheer luck probably makes it result in a touchdown (shout-out to Steve Spurrier). I can't say too much, because it worked. But, against an SEC team, that probably doesn't work and at the very least the final score, and possibly the result, are different.

2. Missed Interceptions: There were numerous times where an Alabama defender was right there on the ball and for whatever reason could not grab it. Sure, the lack of a catch never hurt the Tide against Penn State (obviously, look at the final score), but one of those catches could be a big deciding factor in the upcoming SEC matchups with Florida, Mississippi State and LSU among others.

Overall: I'm torn between an A- and an A here. An A- might be a little low because they did indeed beat a good team convincingly in their house. But, on the other hand, there were opportunities to put up a 41-3 win out there.


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Twitter: @Brett_Hudson, @BrettAtBama

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