In a year that is anything but normal, one thing remains constant. Alabama is undefeated heading into their bye week, dominating opponents through the first half of their schedule.
Still, their legendary head coach feels that there is room to improve.
Offense Steering the Ship
The Crimson Tide sit at 6-0, with an average margin of victory of 25 points.
The story so far has been the outstanding play of redshirt junior QB Mac Jones. People around the country knew that the Alabama offense wouldn’t fall off a cliff without Tua Tagovailoa. With the weapons that returned around Jones, it was expected that he could be a successful stopgap until 5-star freshman Bryce Young takes over.
As of Nov. 4th, Mac Jones is the Heisman favorite in Vegas. Jones is second in the nation in QBR, third in yards, and has a 16-2 TD: INT ratio so far.
Jones has benefitted from great protection from an experienced offensive line that Saban feels could be even better.
Saban also hopes that the bye is an opportunity for some of their young wide receivers to show their worth in practice. Heisman contender Jaylen Waddle is out for the year with a broken ankle, leaving a massive hole at the position.
Redshirt sophomore Slade Bolden has stepped up so far in Waddle’s absence, with 9 catches in 2 games.
Defense Coming Together
October 10th, 2020 is a day that will live in infamy for the defensive-minded Nick Saban.
Alabama defeated Ole Miss but allowed 48 points and a whopping 647 yards, the most ever allowed by a Saban-coached team.
Since then, the Alabama defense has been much better, allowing an average of 13.7 points per game.
Saban likely knows that he doesn’t need the defense to be at its 2011 level to run the table, but improvement is welcome.
He pointed to senior linebacker Dylan Moses as someone who has stepped up big-time in a leadership role.
The defense felt its signal-callers absence last season in high-scoring losses to Auburn and LSU.
With the middle linebacker back in the fold this season, they should feel more comfortable against high-octane offenses that they will likely have to face down the road in their pursuit of a championship.
The Road Ahead
In terms of the regular season, Alabama’s toughest opponents are behind them. They defeated two top-10 teams, Georgia and Texas A&M, by an average of 22.5 points.
They’ll have the chance to avenge both of last season’s losses in the coming weeks, as they face LSU right after the bye and Auburn in three weeks.
LSU is certainly nowhere near last year’s national championship team, as they sit just 2-3 with a defense resembling a block of swiss cheese.
Regular season wins are nice and all, but never the goal for a Saban-coached team. Assuming they win out or even go 9-1, they’ll likely face the winner of Saturday’s Florida-Georgia game in the SEC championship game.
It may be a bit early to talk playoffs, but a national title is obviously the goal. If this season results in a fifth installment of Clemson-Alabama in a playoff setting, college football fans would certainly not complain.