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Sunday, September 22, 2013
What we learned: Week 4

By Alex Scarborough

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Here's what we learned from No. 1 Alabama's 31-6 win over Colorado State on Saturday night in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

AJ McCarron
AJ McCarron and the Alabama offense got a lot more than it bargained for from Colorado State.
Alabama is a beatable championship contender: There was next to nothing pretty about the game for Alabama. With the exception of a few well-executed special teams plays, including a punt block for a touchdown, the top-ranked Tide failed to play well on offense or defense. AJ McCarron and Co. failed to convert on a number of third-down plays and even threw an interception. The offensive line didn't get the same push it did against Texas A&M and you could see it wearing on McCarron, who took a beating. The defense, meanwhile, didn't fare much better, though having a number of missing starters helped explain why. The mistakes it made -- missed assignments, poor tackling, etc. -- weren't exploited as badly as they could have been against a better team, say, like Ole Miss.

Depth in the secondary is a major issue: Going into the game, Alabama fans could have hoped to see something, anything, from the youngsters in the secondary. Any glimmer of hope from the likes of Bradley Sylve, Maurice Smith and Eddie Jackson would have been OK. At least then they would have gained some experience and been able to take a step forward in their development, possibly working their way into a rotation that's lacked quality depth. Instead, no one fared well, starters or otherwise. Getting Deion Belue back will help, but there are still major questions about who will start opposite him. Will it be John Fulton, who didn't play until late in the first half? Or will it be Cyrus Jones, who rarely had his name called against the Rams? It most likely won't be Sylve or Smith or Jackson, who showed all the tell-tale signs of youth.

The offensive line hasn't solved every problem: Whatever progress Alabama's offensive line made against Texas A&M seemed to not hold much momentum when the Tide took the field for its home opener Saturday. With Anthony Steen sidelined with a head injury, the line struggled to get much in the way of push up front. Kellen Williams played well in Steen's absence, but something was still off. McCarron was knocked down a number of times and the running game never got going. Sixty-six rushing yards was not what you'd expect against a Colorado State defense that struggled to stop Tulsa or Colorado from moving the chains in its first two games of the season.