In the previous season, the Yellowhammer State football team enforced an exceptionally offensive game tactic. However, the new offensive coordinator has different plans for Crimson Tide.
After six series, each averaging 4.5 minutes and ten plays, the team re-established itself implementing a more balanced strategy. They made use of both quick passes and steady runs. The new game plan resulted in another impressive victory — 62–10 against New Mexico this weekend.
Alabama vs. New Mexico State
At the Bryant-Denny Stadium, besides Henry Ruggs II and Keilan Robinson’s 70+ yard touchdown runs, there were six other touchdown drives. These went for about 7.5 plays and 70 yards. The runs included two four-minute ones which occurred early on in the 1st and 3rd quarters. As a result, Crimson Tide has started both halves of the match offensively.
The team’s response to Rugg’s 75-yard drive perfectly showcased the new strategy under Steve Sarkisian.
A ten-play series followed the touchdown run that Jerry Jeudy took for 17 yards. After another two plays, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and DeVonta Smith connected on a pass over the middle. Smith was able to gain 22 yards and cross the middle of the field.
Following a few unsuccessful runs by the junior tailback, Najee Harris, Smith and Tagovailoa had linked again across the middle for twelve yards, before Brian Robinson Jr. ran around the left side for another eleven yards.
This was when Tagovailoa returned to Jeudy for a 21-yard touchdown, and Crimson Tide took a 14–0 lead in the first six minutes of the game. The score capped the team’s 89-yard run which lasted longer than four minutes (4:18).
After the match, Tagovailoa has pointed out how sustaining a run is an excellent offense. He added that the team did not have such a strategy last season, so this season the results can improve. Now Crimson Tide players know what to do during the tougher games when it is essential to drive the ball for an extended period of time.
Tagovailoa emphasized which aspects of the game the team needs to focus on. According to the quarterback, they need to make use of what the defense gives them, know their gap schemes, and learn where and how to run or block.
Alabama did not stop their streak in the second half. Their first offensive move in the third quarter, also lasted more than four minutes. Crimson Tide came out of the first half with a 38–0 lead and soon increased it. After Robinson Junior’s quick pass to Jeudy, the running back run for a total of 27 yards before Harris’ eight-yard touchdown run gave Alabama a 45–0 advantage. This was the game’s result after less than seven minutes of play.
Based on the score, the new approach has certainly paid off.
After the match against New Mexico, Alabama’s team now has 100% success when they pass the opponent’s 20-yard mark. That is a noticeable improvement from the last season’s 82% success in the red zone (68% had been touchdowns).
In the last year’s loss against Clemson, Crimson Tide scored only a single touchdown in four runs to the red zone.
Nick Saban’s Comments on the Game
The team’s coach, Nick Saban, expressed his views on the game as well.
According to Saban, Alabama has achieved some solid results, but the game was not perfect. He believes there were some missed opportunities and poor executions. Outside the red area, the team has not played flawlessly, but inside the zone, Crimson Tide was extremely efficient. Ultimately, Saban stated, this is what is important.
Statistically speaking, the New Mexico match was a success when it comes to the number of rushing yards (318). This was the team’s best result since 2017 (365 yards). However, Saban was not too impressed.
He said that there was still room for some improvement as far as runs were concerned. The team could learn to run the ball “more efficiently and effectively,” he stated.
Still, Saban thinks Crimson Tide did play better on Saturday.
Alabama team successfully bounced back after the opening match against Duke A, when their average yard per carry did not reach 3.5. Even excluding the two 70+ yard runs by Ruggs and Robinson, their average increased to 5.6 yards for a single carry.
Overall, Crimson Tide’s average in the match against New Mexico equaled 9.9.
Still, Nick Saban was not entirely satisfied, so he continued to critique the offense, primarily when second-team was concerned. They finished with two three-and-outs in the last quarter, following ten points over the last three minutes in the third quarter. The ten points even included a 49-yard goal by kicker Will Reichard. Yet, the ending of the game was not played on the same level.
Saban stated that the team “got sloppy” as the game was coming to a close. The players attempted a lot of twos, but the coach was not too pleased with their execution. As Saban said, they did not push the ball on the offense, nor took the air out of it.
He added that, as the match was ending, Crimson Tide failed in taking the time off the clock or making first downs. This is even more concerning, considering that the defense did not attempt to stop Alabama for the last ten minutes of the match. However, Saban ended on a more positive note. He pointed out how many players in the team were given an opportunity to play and how useful this experience was for them.
Crimson Tide’s previous match ended in a victory against Duke (42–3). During the next three months, Alabama should face another ten opponents.