Georgia Southern vs. Alabama: 5 Things We Learned from the Crimson Tide's Win
On Senior Day, 2011 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, the Crimson Tide gained a victory over the Georgia Southern Eagles.
The final score of 45-21 definitely made the game look worse than it was for the Eagles. The Eagles did a great job of running the triple option, and they ran it out of a wishbone-type package. Yes, the same wishbone that our very own "Bear" Bryant made a household name.
'Bama had some troubles, and 'Bama had some successes throughout the game. Here are five of those things, in no particular order.
1. The Defense Is Sporadic in Defending the Triple Option
In Georgia Southern's first drive, Alabama gave up a couple of big plays—one more than 25 yards. After that, the defense seemed to stiffen, and the tide seemed to have turned.
However, throughout the game, Georgia Southern began to capitalize on some busted coverages by Alabama's defense, the worst of which was an 82-yard run from scrimmage for a touchdown by Georgia Southern's RB, D. Swope.
What made that play so much worse in the eyes of the fans was that Cade Foster had kicked off into the end zone on the previous play, sticking the Eagles with their worst starting field position of the game.
Georgia Southern completed one of seven passes today, and the only completion was the TD pass on another busted coverage.
'Bama had its moments, like on the first drive, where they seemed to have figured out what the Eagles were doing. Those moments were peppered with busted coverages allowing the Eagles to stay within 17 points (until the fourth quarter) of a team that paid them to come lose.
2. The Short Passing Game Is Successful When We Run It
Once again, we had many opportunities to catch the defense off-guard with the short passing game. The difference between this game and other games we've played recently is that McCarron recognized these opportunities and capitalized on them.
Picking apart defenses is what he does. Run the ball until they stack the box, then pass the ball 8-plus yards at a time until they guard the pass and the run, then run the screen pass.
He has been off-and-on throughout the year, and he has been very successful in games where he finds the WRs, TEs and RBs open in the short field. We saw some of that come back today, and I hope it's a permanent improvement.
3. The Deep Ball Is Still Out of Reach
When McCarron stays within 30 yards of scrimmage, his deeper balls are right on time in exceptionally small windows.
When he steps out of that threshold and goes for the HUGE gains, he seems to throw one distance. Most of the time it's too long.
Again, a good quarterback, and I can't wait to see him reach his full potential. I think the upcoming offseason practices will help him establish bonds with receivers and hit the deep ball very well next year.
Until then, these types of games are definitely the places to be practicing that throw.
4. Special Teams Still Needs Some Work
Shelley made every single extra point today, and he made the only field goal he attempted (from 35 yards out). This should make fans extremely excited. If the offense does its job well, that should be the longest field goal he needs to kick.
Other than that, they had a respectable showing until they allowed Georgia Southern to return a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
Special teams seems to always walk off the field with something to work on at the end of the game. Lane coverages have been a small issue all year, and it doesn't look like that's going away quite yet.
5. Cade Foster May Have Found His Leg
I certainly hope this is the case.
After Georgia Southern's first two drives started from the 25-yard line, the next two started from further back.
Foster put two kickoffs in a row into the end zone, something that has been a rare occurrence this year. One was run out to the 18, the other wasn't fielded.
Could this become Foster's job? If he continues to improve at kickoffs, let him try a few punts in practice and let Shelley take the placekicker spot on the team.
I was glad to see the leg Saban recruited in high school show up in the college field. Let's hope that is a picture of things to come.