It is critical that Alabama football not only know itself, but it’s opponents in order to assure victory in all possible outcomes.
Alabama football, players and staff, would do well to study the Chinese General and philosopher, Sun Tzu.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
Military strategists have used the teachings of The Art of War by Sun Tzu for centuries to train and develop key doctrine so conflict can be met with success. Coach Nick Saban has prepared his Alabama football team in the same method in order to assure victory at nearly every opportunity.
It is critical that Alabama not only know itself, but it’s opponent in order to assure victory.
I believe throughout this season, for Alabama to truly know itself, there are two major factors for the Tide to remain perfect throughout the 2018 season: Pass Protection and Stopping the Run.
Alabama Football Pass Protection
No matter the quarterback who is under center, an offense is only as good as its offensive lineman allow.
For Alabama football going forward, limiting the pressure on Tua Tagovailoa produces two major outcomes: health and production.
If Tagovailoa doesn’t get hit, then the health of the Tide’s quarterback can be sustained throughout the rest of the year. Tagovailoa’s knee has shown susceptibility to injury on plays when contact was not involved (ie the LSU touchdown run).
Tagovailoa’s knee is of major concern mainly due to the health of Jalen Hurts. In pregame warmups, Hurts appeared to be able to barely jog, much less make the runs that Alabama football fans are accustomed to watching. Mac Jones is a good third string QB, but that is where it stops. Mac Jones is capable of beating a team like the Citadel, but not Georgia or Clemson.
Besides the overall health of Tagovailoa, his sheer production is due to a great pass protection. He has the ability to make every throw on the field and when given time allows his receivers to create separation on their routes to get open.
The first half of the season proves what Alabama football is capable of when giving Tagovailoa time to throw.
Defensives will scheme to pressure Tagovailoa as Mississippi State did in order to achieve similar results. The Tide must recognize and correct the mistakes made in this game in order to prevent future opponents from having the same success.
Crimson Tide Defense Stopping the Run
Alabama’s defense has had tremendous success since the bye week. It is due to the Tide’s ability to suffocate the opponent’s rushing attack.
Against LSU and Mississippi State, the Tide allowed a total of 12 and 44 rushing yards, forcing both teams to rely on the passing game. This opened the ability of Alabama to allow its defense to get after the quarterback with the end result being shutouts of both opponents.
When looking at Alabama’s future opponents, all rely heavily on rushing the football to victory. Georgia, Clemson, Notre Dame and Michigan have all shown struggles in offensive production when their rushing attack is limited.
Alabama football has struggled when allowing a rushing attack to gain footing. Against the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Tide allowed 172 rushing yards, which in turn, opened the passing game of QB Ty Storey to have a significant effect. The end result was 31 points and over 400 yards of total offense for the Razorbacks.
For the Tide going forward, stopping the opponent’s rushing attack will be a key to victory. All future opponents against Alabama will focus on establishing a rushing attack. An established rushing attack produces two main effects: limits the pass rush and puts the Tide linebackers out of position.
A rushing attack limits the pass rush because defensive lineman must change their tactics. Defensive linemen focus more on standing the offensive line up in order to find the running back, rather than flying past the lineman and losing control of their run gap. It creates more pressure on linebackers to fill the run gaps, which leads to them being out of position on the play-action pass plays.
Many times this season, both Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses have shown weaknesses in guarding running backs in passing routes. Without an incorrect block in the back call, Mississippi State had exploited just this and had its running back race to the end zone for the score.
This same weakness was seen in multiple games during this season, where the linebackers were out of position and failed to properly cover the running back. Alabama football has a lot of success when the linebackers are blitzing or playing zone coverage rather than man coverage. This success is found when Alabama controls the line of scrimmage and stops the run.
Alabama must continue to stuff the opponent’s rushing attack or it will highlight the weaknesses of its linebackers in pass coverage.
When Alabama plays Nick Saban football, it is unbeatable in my opinion. Saban’s sound defensive scheme shuts down the opponent’s ability to run the football and forces the opposing quarterback to be perfect. So far this season, no opposing QB has been able to achieve this level of perfection.
Coach Saban also demands offensive line dominance, which enables Tua to put on the greatest aerial attack seen in Alabama football history.
For a championship season, the Tide must provide solid pass protection and stop opponent’s rushing attacks, because this is exactly how its opponents will attempt to attack the Tide.
Comment below on how you believe opponents will go after the Tide. Also, what opponent you believe will give the Crimson Tide its greatest challenge?