The La Monroe Warhawks are coming back to the scene of the crime for the first time since 2007 in what should be the epic beatdown that the 2007 matchup should have been. It’s tough to imagine that Coach Nick Saban will lose his second straight “revenge” game in two weeks.
This week is about Alabama. It’s about eliminating turnovers. It’s about blocking the man across from you consistently for 60 minutes. It’s about tackling the opponent to the ground each and every time you have a chance to make a tackle.
Today’s game is about improving. Improving the timing between the receivers and the quarterbacks. It’s about the receiver running the route that the quarterback expects. And it’s about pounding out some pent up aggression on the ground against a lesser opponent. Today is about Alabama.
Alabama on Offense
In the interests of time today, we are offering up the classic bullet point format of the things we will be watching for this week against Louisiana Monroe. For background purposes, La Monroe has played one game of note this season and that was a 51-14 loss against Georgia. In that game, the Bulldogs ran for 243 and passed for 192 and it was 35-7 at halftime. Basically, Alabama should be able to do whatever they want to do this week. Here’s what we want to see…
- We think Jake Coker established himself last week as THE guy. Whether it was running the ball or throwing it down the field, Coker stepped up as a leader last week. Let’s see him direct a few scoring drives as he continues to get reps and develop timing with his receivers.
- We want to see Damien Harris get in the game early and often. This is the type of game that you want to get the starters out of quickly so Bama needs to jump on the Warhawks early and often.
- We don’t want to see Derrick Henry take a lot of hits this week. Henry had 28 touches (23 carries and 5 catches) last week so we want to see him kicking it on the sidelines as soon as Alabama can get out to a big lead.
- Ryan Kelly – this game is for you. Kelly & his fellow guards were sub par last week so today will be their chance to re-establish their identity as a mauling, dominating front five. This needs to happen more than anything else in this write up.
- Lane Kiffin needs to call a good game. The heat on him ratcheted up this week as the rumor mill cranked out accusations of spending entirely too much time working on the horizontal spread offense. For two years, Coach Saban has lamented that the offense has no identity and for the second straight year, they still do not have one. Football can be an easy game, especially when you have infinitely more talent than your opponent. Throw out the trick plays and just man up and kick your opponent’s ass. That’s what today should be about.
Alabama on Defense
Against Georgia, the Warhawks’ game plan was just to get the heck out of Athens as quickly and judiciously as possible. ULM ran the ball 26 times for 45 yards in an effort to just keep the clock moving. Thru the air, La Monroe completed 23 of 26 passes averaging a meager 6.4 yards per pass attempt – again, they completed a ton of short passes and kept that big ole clock moving. We suspect that they will not exactly be “upset minded” in their approach today so the defense should not be challenged. However, in our film review last week, the Bama defense has challenges of their own – tackling. Here’s what we want to see this week…
- Tackling. And lots of it. We want to see the linebackers and especially the secondary take proper angles and come up to make tackles with very bad intentions.
- Lost in the five Bama turnovers was the fact that in 65 plays the Alabama defense forced zero turnovers. Let’s see the Tide D get the ball back to the offense a few extra times today.
- Will Rashaan Evans ever get an opportunity to play? He’s Bama’s best pass rusher but we haven’t seen him a lick this year. Maybe today is the day that he reminds Bama fans that he’s still on the roster. We’d like to see Tim Williams get some snaps, as well.
- Can Alabama contain the edges of the defense? Last week, Ole Miss worked the corner more than a lady of the evening – let’s hope Alabama’s perimeter defense isn’t lying on their backs again this week.
- We want to see a safety dance this week. We want to see converted corners Eddie Jackson and Geno Matias-Smith come up and make plays. Rememeber Rashad Johnson, Mark Barron and Landon Collins? They were deadly assassins around the line of scrimmage. The Tide’s defense has not found this type of playmaker at the safety position – at least not so far – so it will be interesting to see how long Saban can tolerate the poor efforts of Matias-Smith and Jackson.
- Marlon Humphrey needs to put forth a much better tackling effort this week or you may not see him out there much going forward. Not because he’s not good, just because the tackling was that bad.
Wow, in looking at the film last week we saw just how tentative Adam Griffith’s field goal was struck last week. There was absolutely no authority behind that kick whatsoever. With back up kicker Gunnar Rayborn getting popped with a DUI this week, Griffith no other choice than to get out there and perform. Say a prayer for Griffith the next time he lines up to make a kick – he’s still struggling.
We don’t want to see any fumbled punts. No fumbled kick off returns. No errors in the kicking game. Bama really needs to post a clean sheet this week on special teams.
Today’s game isn’t about redemption for last week. Today’s game isn’t about revenge for 2007. The game today is about finding leadership. Leadership at quarterback. Leadership in the secondary. And leadership on the sidelines. With rumors of dissension on the staff, Alabama needs to come out and drop the yellowhammer on the woeful Warhawks in an effort to build confidence both inside and outside the locker room. Today is a big game for Alabama as they need to find a game that gets them all pulling in the same direction.