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Second look: Bama 40, FAU 7

9/23/2012

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- After 24 hours of digestion, analysis of No. 1 Alabama's 40-7 win over Florida Atlantic:

On offense ...

Doug Nussmeier absolutely gouged the FAU defense with crossing routes. The UA receivers showed their speed and ability to get yards after the catch on Saturday.

DeAndrew White showed great body control in getting his feet down on his touchdown grab in the first quarter. He came into Saturday's game with three catches in three games and left with seven.

Amari Cooper is showing what we all thought he would be heading into the season, making plays in space. Fellow freshman Cyrus Jones is coming along, too. He had a nice run after the catch on a 35-yard reception.

Yes, Michael Williams had arguably his biggest game on Saturday, catching four passes for 25 yards. But that being his biggest game is also part of the issue. The same goes for Brian Vogler who caught his first pass of the season against FAU. The Alabama tight ends and H-backs have been a non-factor in the passing game. Kelly Johnson dropped two catchable balls, as did Williams. Alabama's receivers are talented and plentiful, but the offense can't rely solely on them.

It looks like the staff has taken the leash off of Eddie Lacy, subbing him out less and less for T.J. Yeldon. There weren't many series in the first half where Lacy came to the sideline for more than one play.

Pass protection was much better this week with only two sacks -- one by way of miscommunication and the other because of Blake Sims holding onto the ball too long. ... The second team line included Kellen Williams, Chad Lindsay, Ryan Kelly, Arie Kouandjio and Austin Shepherd.

The running back corps continues to evolve. Kenyan Drake has been impressive since Week 2. The true freshman is lightning quick and finishes plays well, as evidenced by his touchdown run, using a spin move to get into the end zone.

Final thought: Watching the past few weeks, you get the feeling coaches have been working on specific things each game. One week we saw a dominant running game, the next we saw an attempt at more big plays down the field in the passing game. Last week we saw a little bit of both. Against FAU, the Tide went for the more intermediate stuff, getting the ball out of AJ McCarron's hands quickly. When they put it all together, it could be dangerous for the opposition.

On defense ...

Jesse Williams appears to be getting more and more comfortable at the nose, and is putting a bit of a twist on the position. He's picking his spots at trying to get into the backfield, taking on blockers in a three-down linemen set and pinning his ears back when he's taking on just one blocker with four linemen.

The depth on the defensive line is improving each week. Jeoffrey Pagan and Ed Stinson have developed into key players in the rotation. The injury to Brandon Ivory (sprained ankle) could hurt the depth, though.

Quarterbacks are staying away from Dee Milliner since he showed what he can do against Michigan. Offenses are instead going after Deion Belue with not much success.

Bringing the safeties up to the line of scrimmage has been a tool Kirby Smart and Nick Saban have employed a lot this season. Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix has been solid in run support and Robert Lester and Vinnie Sunseri are a big time weapons blitzing off the edge.

Final thought: The depth on the defense continues to be impressive. Saban may not be pleased with the twos and threes at times, but the experience they've gotten in recent weeks will pay huge dividends. Players like Tyler Hayes, Landon Collins and Darren Lake have seen the field regularly which will only help their development.

On special teams ...

After a second week of ball security issues from Christion Jones, is it time to get concerned? His early fumble on a punt return nearly resulted in FAU points. He made up for it on the next return, taking the ball 33 yards past midfield, but rest assured coaches are looking at a way to keep the ball from hitting the turf.

Cade Foster continues to kick the ball with authority this year. His body language has been of stark contrast to a year ago. Now, he's lining up his kicks, following through and not even bothering to watch it land sometimes.