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Alabama Is Mortal, and Texas Isn't Back Just Yet

Adam KramerSeptember 10, 2022

AP Photo/Rodolfo Gonzalez

This was supposed to be a blowout. This was a game that was to be over at halftime. This was supposed to be a moment when the "Texas is back" jokes could flow freely and Alabama's dominance rolled methodically forward.

Then the game happened.

Alabama edged Texas 20-19 in the blazing heat in front of one of the best environments the sport will feature all year. Takeaways? Where does one even begin?

Alabama's national championship hopes are alive and well. Texas' rebuild took a massive step forward in defeat. And the quarterbacks? There is much to be discussed for both sides.

Here are my thoughts on a game that many will be processing for the foreseeable future.


1. Alabama Is Mortal

Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the past few months, much of the conversation surrounding the Crimson Tide has centered around its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, all-time head coach and difference-making additions to the roster.

The reality, however, is we saw a slew of concerning elements Saturday, and it starts with the offense. The line looked regularly overmatched by a Texas front that deserves credit for slowing down Bryce Young.

The wideouts also struggled, which is evident by the box score. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs led the team in catches, which can be viewed a few ways. Gibbs is a fabulous player. But the wide receivers had a hard time getting open, dropped passes and never looked in rhythm.

Perhaps the most glaring problem, however, was the penalties. Alabama's 15 marked the most ever in the Nick Saban era. The Tide were sloppy, plain and simple.

The defensive backs held, face masks were grabbed, and even Will Anderson Jr., the all-world linebacker, struggled at times.

Practice will not be pleasant. Saban has ample evidence to communicate his displeasure with the team, which could make for a long few weeks.

In the end, Alabama is unbeaten. Whether it drops in the Associated Press poll is of no real concern. The real concern will be these issues and how they're repaired.


2. Texas Isn't Back, but Fans Should Be Thrilled

AP Photo/Michael Thomas

I get it. Moral victories are boring for many. The scoreboard rules.

Still, Texas fans should be thrilled by what transpired. They should be upset that their team was unable to take advantage of chances in the red zone. They should be discouraged by the fact that the defense could not come up with one last stop late in the fourth quarter after the Longhorns took a 19-17 lead.

But there should be an appreciation for the effort and an acknowledgement that progress appears to be taking shape.

That Texas nearly upset Alabama as a three-touchdown underdog with its backup quarterback (who played much of the game with a limp) was a tremendous development.

Sure, the outcome was gutting. The Longhorns had opportunities to put the game away and add points. But given the level of expectations for this program entering a huge spot, this felt like a win in many ways.

Texas isn't back. In fact, let's stop saying it. But if this kind of progress translates, the Longhorns will be a problem in the not-too-distant future.

Oh, and we're not done with Texas.


3. Quinn Ewers Can Sling It

Tim Warner/Getty Images

The injury to Texas' starting quarterback in the first quarter was a loss for all of college football.

It was also oddly reminiscent of what we witnessed in the 2009 BCS National Championship Game played between these two teams. Colt McCoy left the matchup early with an injured shoulder, and Alabama was victorious.

We've played the "what if" game ever since.

Before he left in the first half, Ewers showcased a ton. He completed nine of his 12 attempts for 134 yards. He threw from different arm angles, escaped pressure and looked the part. (It's worth noting that one of his incompletions was actually a drop that should have been a touchdown.)

Still, Ewers was electric. While his status will likely be determined in the coming days, the glimpses were tantalizing. For Texas and the sport, let's hope we see him again soon.

Speaking of quarterbacks...


4. Bryce Young Is Capable of Magic

Tim Warner/Getty Images

Statistically, this will likely be one of the worst games Young has all year. But beyond the numbers, Alabama's starting quarterback delivered when his program needed him most.

The first half was a mixed bag for the junior, who was constantly under duress. His rhythm was off, and the Alabama offense never felt quite right.

On the Tide's game-winning drive, however, Young dissected the Longhorns defense. He ducked under a tackle on a play that initially looked like a disaster. He was calm, which has become the norm for Young.

He threw for only 213 yards and one touchdown, though he was the catalyst behind the victory. It's not like we learned anything new about a quarterback who has already shown us so much.

The fact that he continued to deliver will give Alabama hope when a game like this surfaces again.


5. There Is Nothing Like a Big Game on a College Campus

AP Photo/Rodolfo Gonzalez

Period.

While any matchup between premier programs is welcomed, playing such games in the best environments in all of sports is a must.

NFL stadiums are fine, but college campuses are better.

It can be debated how good Alabama really is, and how close Texas is to being a force once again.

What can't be debated is that Austin delivered a remarkable four hours of football. What a Saturday.

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