ALABAMA FOOTBALL; Tide Roll over the Owls as Alabama wins Home opener
by Cole Thompson
As expected by many, the Alabama Crimson Tide pulled away early on in the game and ended up defeating the Owls, 41-0 after a rain delay ended the game with 7:32 left in fourth quarter.
This win doesn’t come as much of a shock to many due to Alabama’s track record of winning their home opener. Since Nick Saban has stepped foot in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide have yet to lose a home opener under his command. In fact, the last time Alabama has ever lost their first game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, was in 2003 when they faced then no.1 Oklahoma. Fun FACT: Oklahoma would end up losing in the National Championship that year to the LSU Tigers, coached by Nick Saban. Coincidence?
Alabama came out fast and furious from the get go led by Quarterback Blake Sims. From the start, Sims looked fierce and electrifying finishing the day 11-13 for 214 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a rushing touchdown himself.
“Blake play very well” Saban said “He made that one mistake but overall he played very good.”
As promised, Jake Coker finally made his way into the game and played exceptionally well. The Mobile native first entered on the fourth drive and fans were not disappointed. Although he was rough around the edges, Coker did manage to make use of his time with the ball finishing the day 15 for 24 with over 200 yards passing a his first Alabama touchdown.
“Jake got to play,” Saban said “I think will help his confidence and he’ll have a little more rhythm….he did some very good things today as well.”
After last week’s decent defensive performance, the Crimson Tide were nothing but lights out today as they managed to hold the Owls to only 145 yards throughout the game. Probably the biggest surprise was return of cornerback Eddie Jackson, who played phenomenal today ending the game with five tackles and forced fumble. Jackson, one of the only returning corners to start last season, tore his ACL in spring football this past year and was supposed to miss much of the 2o14 season. It seems as if his body didn’t get the memo that he wasn’t supposed to play since he was starting by week two.
“We were going to have Eddie run about 45 plays today, I don’t know if it was exactly that but it was around 40,” Saban said. “We want to work on getting his stamina back…the more he plays the better he’ll feel we hope.”
Teammates agree that Jackson’s presence on the field helped make a huge difference.
“He’s a monster,” Linebacker Reggie Ragland said. “He’s quick, his first step is unbelievable and he’s a great guy to be around.”
Not only was this the return for Eddie Jackson, but also for middle linebacker Trey DePreist, who was suspended last week due to an infraction with the NCAA. The Tide last week struggled without him, allowing 23 unanswered points. This week however, Alabama’s defense was lights out with the return of the three year starter.
“Our players played with more confidence and more poise today and I think Trey’s presence had something to do with that.” Saban said.
While there are multiple people to thank for the Tide’s blowout, probably the most underrated name the thank is wide receiver Chris Black. Black, a redshirt sophomore stepped into the a starting role today for injured receiver DeAndrew White and played stellar with 3 receptions for 45 yards including a 19 yard reception leading to a Blake Sims touchdown in the first quarter.
“I knew when D-White went down some one had to set into his starting role,” Black said. “I wanted to be the one to take on that role and I think I did a pretty good job today.”
Even though this win was a great check mark on Alabama’s trip to reach the inaugural playoff this winter, there are still questions that need to be answered. Let’s knock out the easy one first; who will be Alabama’s official starting quarterback. Coming into the first few drives, it seemed as if Blake Sims was a for sure deal to win the starting job. Then, out of no where, Jake Coker steps up and shows the arm strength Tide fans have been hearing about for months. Not only that but Coker was able to move well outside the pocket and make a dead play into an exciting first down. While lots could be put on the shoulders on the Crimson Tide’s offensive line, there still were plays where Coker has Owls flocking him and he was able to push the drive forward for another first down. Both Sims and Coker played near spot on and made mistakes here and there. Sims really does care for Coker and thinks he’s a great asset to the team.
“I love Jacob with all my heart.” Sims said “I’ll do anything for him. I’m glad he’s here.”
Coker as well has the same admiration for Sims.
“Me and Blake are real good friends,” Coker said “We really just want to go out their in practice and help make the team better together.”
Now as there is truly only one game left before the real test with Florida happens, fans will start deciding who will be their man to lead the Tide. The only issue with that is the head coach (and ultimate decider of the decision) , doesn’t care what his fans think of the two quarterbacks.
“I really don’t care what side they take” said Saban addressing the fans. “The only side that matters is the side we take…I think we’ll need both guys to play well for us at some point in time during the season…we’ll continue to try and help both guys develop.”
Alabama looked sharp throughout this whole game and never seemed to let up on the owls. Even when it was fourth down, Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin decided to take the risk rather than the turnover”
“If you didn’t notice, we didn’t put once this game,” Saban said. “It was an opportunity for us to take a risk and for our players to learn…Lane works very well with Blake and he had faith to call the plays in those situations.”
While’s will start making t-shirts for Team Blake or Team Jacob, Alabama will now have to face the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles next week at home before taking on Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators. While Southern Miss is still just a tune up game, Alabama still has multiple issues to go over this week in practice in order to prepare for their first real challenge in the SEC. As Crimson Tide fans start to celebrate, Saban starts to work and prepare for another exciting Alabama football game.
Cole Thompson is the Alabama Beat Reporter for WVUA-FM, follow him on twitter @ColeThompson32