Tuscaloosa– In a game that everyone believed was going to be a shootout, only one team really came to play as the Alabama Crimson Tide thrashed the Texas A&M Aggies 59-0. While records were broken and memories were made one thing is for certain, Alabama is back playing the football everyone seems to love.
“I think this is as close as we can get to the Alabama football that we want to try to get from our players in terms of effort, toughness, emotional excitement and execution that we got throughout the game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
From the get-go Alabama’s offense was on fire led by quarterback Blake Sims. After last week playing under-par, Sims was lights out for all three quarters he played. It all started on the second drive where Sims found his favorite target Amari Cooper for a first down. From then on Sims wouldn’t turn back completing 16 of 27 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Not to mention he also had a 43 yard touchdown run himself in the middle of the second quarter.
While Sims was fantastic today, running back TJ Yeldon had a career day himself. In the three quarters he was out there Yeldon managed to juke and turn everyone out of their shoes while making multiple trips to the end zone. Yeldon finished the day with 13 rushes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Yeldon also moved closer into the record books by tying former teammate Eddie Lacy for sixth all time in touchdowns. Derrick Henry also had a monster day with 111 all-purpose yards and a pair of touchdowns.
It’s also worth mentioning the performance of Amari Cooper this week. After on two catches for 24 yards against Arkansas, the junior from Orlando Florida finished the day with 8 catches for 140 yard and a pair of touchdowns. Cooper, who was already in talks to win the Heisman trophy, definitely made his case again on Saturday and has the support of his teammates by his side.
If the offense looked impressive, the defense was a completely different story. Alabama’s defense who also struggled a bit last week destroyed Kevin Sumlin’s offense only giving up 178 total yards and 6 total sacks. Not only did the pass rush really fluster Hill, but the secondary also stepped up and made some crucial tackles leading A&M only towards 8 first downs. Ryan Anderson led the way with seven total tackles including three tackle for losses. This was Alabama football fans were used to seeing.
“We just tried to confuse the quarterback as much as possible, and play sound football, fly to the ball,” Alabama safety Landon Collins said. “If we fly to the ball, they can’t make good plays on us.”
One of the biggest surprises of the whole day was the penalties for Alabama, that is the ones that didn’t happen. For the first time this season, Alabama exited Bryant-Denny Stadium with zero penalties allowed against the Aggies. While the stat isn’t anything flashy, Alabama has struggled over the past few weeks with careless penalties that really pushed them back.
Texas A&M couldn’t get anything right thanks to a very aggressive pass rush defense. A&M quarterback Kenny Hill was forced to throw out of the pocket 18 times thanks to Ryan Anderson, A’Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen. After a few drives in, Hill admitted the Aggies seemed to have just quit.
“We came in confident that we could do all right,” Hill said. “It just went down as the game went on.”
Alabama did have a few scares on the field with injuries this afternoon. Offensive lineman Austin Shepard went down early in the game due to a knee injury as well as defensive players Jonathan Allen (leg) and Ruben Foster (neck) early on in the third quarter. Still, Coach Saban let everyone know they were fine and just were taking precaution not allowing the boys to come back in.
“Everybody is ok” Coach Saban said. “Jonathan has cramps he wasn’t really injured….Shep’s ok, we just didn’t want to put him back in because of the score. Everyone should be fine next week”
Alabama will travel next week to Knoxville as they play against rival Tennessee Volunteers. While the Vols are coming off a loss to the Ole Miss Rebels, there still is some hope for them to possibly pull the upset in Neyland. While Alabama has played excellent football at home this year, on the road has been a completely different story. In their three games away from Bryant-Denny Stadium this season, Alabama has only held opponents to maximum of 10 points in deficit. Not to mention, lost one of those away games a few weeks ago. Alabama will have to come out playing like they are at home if they want to continue this success.
While the week comes to a close, Alabama has something to be proud of, they play as a team. In recent weeks it seems that only one thing was holding this team back, itself. Now after a blow-out win and a rebirth in their confidence, Alabama has made it back to what they are known for, winning big.
“We definitely balled out,” Collins said. “We went head over heels. We had a lot of fun in the Arkansas game. It’s the same thing. It’s all fun.”
Cole Thompson is the Alabama beat reporter for WVUA-FM. Follow him on Twitter at @ColeThompson32