- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
You can almost hear the entire Alabama football nation exclaiming in unison: Now this is more like it, the way it ought to be. To say the sixth-ranked Crimson Tide (5-0, 3-0) are all the way back would probably be a bit premature. But this is Alabama's best team since 1999, which just happens to be the last time the Tide won an SEC championship.
The most impressive thing about Mike Shula's club is its balance. Everybody knew the Tide would be good on defense, and they're every bit as good as advertised. They lead the SEC and are sixth nationally in total defense. But with a healthy Brodie Croyle at quarterback, they're picking defenses apart through the air, and SEC rushing leader Kenneth Darby is plowing through them on the ground.
Croyle has returned from knee surgery in grand style. He's one of the most accurate passers in the country and has carved teams up with the deep ball. Without him, the Crimson Tide were a .500 team a year ago. With him, they might be the SEC's best team.