The Alabama Crimson Tide picked up a win on the road against a Top 10 team for the second time in the past three weeks, defeating Texas A&M 41-23 in College Station, Texas, Saturday.
The stars of the game were in the Alabama secondary and the rushing attack. The Crimson Tide intercepted four passes on the day and returned three of them for touchdowns. Running back Derrick Henry had the best game of his Alabama career on the ground as well.
Here are the game grades for each positional unit on both teams.
|Alabama Crimson Tide Game Grades|
|Position Group||First Half||Full Game|
It wasn't a big day through the air for the Crimson Tide. Jake Coker completed 19 of his 25 passing attempts for just 138 yards. With Alabama leading for basically the entire game, much of the offense consisted of ball control and some clock-bleeding.
The big plays weren't there through the air, but Alabama also didn't make any mistakes in the passing game on a day when they seemed to pop up everywhere else. Don't expect this passing attack to start taking the top off defenses any time soon.
It was a career day for Henry on the ground. The monster running back ran for 236 yards and two scores on 32 carries.
He was especially effective early on, rushing for more than 150 of those yards in the first half while the Alabama offensive line was blowing the Texas A&M defense off the ball on the line of scrimmage.
The running game wasn't as effective in the second half, which might have had something to do with the absence of starting center Ryan Kelly. Statistically, it was an excellent game for the Alabama rushing attack, but it wasn't the 60-minute domination that the box score might suggest.
What more could you possibly ask for from a secondary? The Alabama secondary was making plays all over the field led by cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick and safety Eddie Jackson.
Jackson and Fitzpatrick each pulled in two interceptions apiece, three of which resulted in touchdowns and accounted for more than half of Alabama's scoring. The game was the first time in Alabama history that the Crimson Tide have returned three interceptions for touchdowns in one game.
It was simply an incredible effort against a potent Texas A&M passing attack.
To the surprise of no one, Alabama didn't allow the Aggies anything in the run game. Alabama gave up a mere 32 rushing yards on 25 carries.
The dominant performances against the run have become so routine for this unit that most fans have almost become numb to how impressive they are.
There is just no room to run against the Alabama front seven.
The mistakes on special teams were all over the place for Alabama in this one but didn't prove too costly.
The Alabama punt coverage let Texas A&M's Christian Kirk take a punt back for a touchdown in the first half and also allowed a JK Scott punt to be blocked early in the second half. Cyrus Jones fumbled a punt that was recovered by A&M, and Damien Harris was tackled inside the 10-yard line on a kickoff return.
Though he's usually the weak point of the Alabama special teams, kicker Adam Griffith was actually perfect on all field goals and extra-point attempts and also did a nice job on kickoffs.
There was some questionable play-calling at times in this one. As dominant as Henry was, the offense seemed to stall when almost anyone else got the ball.
Alabama also moved backward on first down at least once on nearly every drive of the game.
But overall, Nick Saban brought his team ready to play, and Alabama showed the mental toughness to continue making big plays despite the mistakes that let Texas A&M back in the game.
|Texas A&M Aggies Game Grades|
|Position Group||First Half||Full Game|
There were stretches of this game where Kyle Allen was able to move the ball downfield against the Alabama secondary. But when the Aggies pulled back within striking distance of Alabama and needed a play, an interception was typically the result.
Allen and Kyler Murray combined for four interceptions. It's tough to earn a good grade when the other team scores 21 points off your mistakes.
There was nothing available on the ground for Texas A&M, but such has become the norm for opponents of the Crimson Tide.
The running game was stuffed from the beginning, and the Aggies didn't waste much time hoping for holes to open up. Starting running back Tra Carson only had 13 carries. Nobody has run well against Alabama this season, and it isn't much of a surprise that the Aggies couldn't either.
The Aggies secondary stayed glued to the Alabama receivers in this one and only gave up two passing plays of 20 yards or more and only 138 passing yards total.
The pass rush from Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall never allowed Jake Coker to feel comfortable and limited the Alabama passing game for most of the afternoon.
It was a tale of two halves for the Texas A&M defense against the run. Early on, the Alabama offense dominated the Aggies defensive line and ran the ball at will.
In the second half, the defense stiffened up, meeting Henry in the backfield several times. Freshman defensive tackle Daylon Mack was especially effective in plugging up holes in the run game after intermission.
But nonetheless, the Aggies allowed 258 yards on the ground.
Some big plays on special teams kept the Aggies in the game whenever this one was teetering on the brink of a blowout.
The first of those plays came on Kirk's punt return for a touchdown in the first half. He has made electrifying plays on special teams the entire season.
Kicker Taylor Bertolet connected on multiple field goals of 50-plus yards. The Aggies also forced a fumble and blocked a punt.
The Aggies used a nickel defense that allowed Alabama to run all over them in the first half. Defensive coordinator John Chavis adjusted, and it led to an improved performance the rest of the game.
The handling of the two quarterbacks seemed bizarre. Head coach Kevin Sumlin swapped Allen and Murray in and out throughout the second half without any rhyme or reason.