Sunday, October 13, 2013
What we learned: Week 7
By Alex Scarborough
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Here's a look at three lessons learned in No. 1 Alabama's 48-7 win over Kentucky on Saturday night.
Secondary solutions: After the Texas A&M debacle where the defense gave up the most yards in school history, there was little doubt what Alabama's biggest weakness was. Deion Belue could cover one-on-one, but behind him there wasn't much to draw from at corner. John Fulton, one of a few veterans, was beaten badly, and talented sophomore Cyrus Jones simply wasn't ready. Enter Eddie Jackson, a true freshman who came out of nowhere to lock down Ole Miss' No. 1 target Donte Moncrief a few weeks ago. But Jackson was out this week along with safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. But instead of ringing the alarm, Alabama simply plugged in other parts. Landon Collins again played well at free safety, and the seldom-used Bradley Sylve started at corner and held down the fort. Suddenly it looks like corner might not be such a glaring concern. Suddenly Alabama is creating depth at a position where there was previously little to be had.
Finding holes: Is it finally safe to say Alabama's running game is back? After starting the season on shaky ground, it appears that the answer is yes. Building off solid performances against Ole Miss and Georgia State, Alabama's offensive line imposed its will against Kentucky, pushing the line of scrimmage. T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake benefitted, rushing for more than 100 yards each. The Tide averaged better than 6 yards per rush. And the impact on the offense as a whole was obvious. With a solid running game, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier could mix in play action and make Kentucky defend all areas of the field. When UA has this kind of balance, its hard to beat.
Go-to guy: There shouldn't be any doubt where AJ McCarron is going with the football in key situations anymore. There are a lot of talented receivers he can choose from, but when it comes time he'll look to Kevin Norwood. It's happened time and time again in his career and it happened again on Saturday night when McCarron threw the ball into double coverage only to have Norwood somehow outmuscle two defenders to make another inexplicable touchdown grab. He may not be the most talented player on Alabama's roster, but in the biggest moments Norwood seems to find a way to make something happen.