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Sunday, November 18, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Alabama 49, WCU 0

By Alex Scarborough

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- A look at the good and bad from No. 4 Alabama's 49-0 romp over Western Carolina at home on Saturday.

THREE UP
1. Confidence gained: After back-to-back subpar performances, Alabama needed a thorough win to get back on the right track. Western Carolina was outmanned and outgunned, but it didn't matter. The Crimson Tide jumped out to a big lead and never looked back, maintaining their dominance for the full 60 minutes even when they were down to the second and third string.

2. Return to the running game: Alabama didn't waste much time throwing the football around on Saturday -- it was the offensive line's turn to do the heavy lifting. UA ran the ball 40 times and passed just 12. Eddie Lacy had three touchdowns and 99 yards on the ground before halftime and backups Brent Calloway and Blake Sims didn't let up in the second half.

3. Stonewall defense: There wasn't much flash to the Alabama defense, other than Deion Belue's fumble return for a touchdown, but in terms of a return to form, Saturday was it. There weren't nearly as many missed tackles or blown assignments as in the weeks before. Western Carolina mustered just 163 yards of offense.

THREE DOWN
1. They are who we thought they were: There was plenty of positives to take away from Alabama's win on Saturday, but the truth remains that Western Carolina never had a chance. The Catamounts were what their record indicated: a one-win team with holes on both sides of the football. Yes, Alabama played well. But how well? We won't know until next week when Auburn comes to town.

2. Missing pass rush: For the second straight week, Alabama's defense failed to get after the quarterback for sacks. Against Texas A&M it was reasonable. Against Western Carolina, it was curious. The Tide left Bryant-Denny Stadium with just one sack. The Catamounts were allowing 2.3 sacks per game coming into the weekend -- against defenses from the Southern Conference.

3. Punt return game: The Cyrus Jones experiment at punt return started with a Christion Jones fumble weeks ago. Then Cyrus fumbled and gave the job right back to Christion. On Saturday, Christion fumbled a punt deep in Alabama territory and subsequently handed the reins right back to Cyrus. The only thing consistent about Alabama's punt return game is this: It's confusing and some guy named Jones will be back there in some form of fashion, but probably not Barrett.