clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Initial Impressions from the Iron Bowl

The winning play may go down in Alabama lore, but the performance wasn’t great.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

What can you say about what we saw last night?

Alabama played an atrocious game. The defense was an utter abomination. The offense moved the ball reasonably well but kept shooting themselves in the foot once they crossed the 50. Name your boneheaded play, and Alabama made it last night. From two passes beyond the line of scrimmage, to a shanked punt,to a missed field goal, to a blown coverage, to a dumb blindside block that would have netted zero benefit to begin with, and of course the snap over Milroe’s head at the absolute worst time imaginable, it seemed that Alabama was willing itself to a loss.

What was that rushing defense? On both of the first half touchdown drives, Tim Keenan III and Jaheim Oatis were on the sideline. Not sure if that was the problem, but you have to wonder if Alabama can afford to have them off the field much going forward. Deontae Lawson simply didn’t look right coming off of an injury. His run fits seemed off a couple of times and at least once he failed to get proper depth in pass coverage. Jihaad Campbell did rotate in quite a bit, so perhaps Lawson is still recovering.

And, what the hell was this?

Not sure if that was on Malachi or Kool Aid, but it can’t happen. Whatever the issues, the defense had better improve before next week lest things get ugly.

Offensively, Alabama moved the ball pretty well but continued to shoot itself in the foot in some form or fashion. Before the game winner, Alabama had managed only 20 points despite gaining 420 offensive yards. The aforementioned mistakes contributed, plus an uncalled pass interference in the end zone on a play to Isaiah Bond that should have given Alabama first and goal from the 2. While the defense was embarrassing for much of the night, Alabama should have scored enough points to win by double digits.

So, about that ending.

That entire series was a microcosm of Alabama’s season. The Tide caught a critical break on the muffed punt, looked to be taking advantage like good teams do, then made horrific mistakes to seemingly squander the last chance to win. But, somehow, they keep finding ways to overcome their own shortcomings. This team had no business needing a miracle to beat a mediocre Auburn squad, but they got just that.

Everything about that play was beautiful. Auburn fans are all over their defensive coaches for not rushing the passer, but it’s tough to argue with dropping nine when you only need to defend one pass into the end zone from 31 yards out. Milroe threw that ball a good 50 yards in the air, on a rope, and Bond made a phenomenal grab. You can say plenty about this team, but you can’t say that they don’t come through in the clutch.

Will Reichard would have broken the all-time NCAA scoring record had he made that field goal. Instead he settled for a tie at 530 points, and will undoubtedly break the record next week.

Next up is a Georgia squad that Draftkings currently has as a 5 point favorite. The Dawgs defense didn’t look much better than Alabama’s yesterday, allowing 363 yards and 23 points to Georgia Tech. They were pretty efficient on offense, however, despite sitting Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey with nagging injuries. You can bet that both will be taking the field in Atlanta next week, and Alabama likely won’t be able to overcome a bunch of mistakes against that bunch. We will need to see the kind of offensive execution we got from the second half of the Tennessee game through Chattanooga. and there can be no lapses on defense.

On the playoff front, Alabama continues to get no “help.” The ACC’s brand took a bit of a hit this weekend as five-loss SEC team Kentucky knocked off the Louisville squad that unbeaten Florida State will play for the ACC title, and Clemson’s offense was putrid against a bad South Carolina defense. Florida State really didn’t do themselves any favors either in terms of impressing the playoff committee in their first game without QB Jordan Travis. Florida was also without their starting QB and they led for much of that game. If Florida State is allowed into the playoff, odds are that they will get destroyed.

Alabama has to take care of its business before they can worry about such a scenario, of course, and that’s not going to be easy. Unlike 2021, this game may well be an elimination game for both sides, so expect the competition to be fierce.

Hope for the best.

Roll Tide.