The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Defense Wins Football Games

Posted on | November 7, 2021 | Comments Off on Defense Wins Football Games

The University of Alabama survived a scare Saturday against LSU, coming away with a hard-fought 20-14 victory to keep alive the Crimson Tide’s hopes of another trip to the college football playoffs.

LSU stopped Alabama’s running game — something that is cause for concern going forward — and forced the Tide to rely on quarterback Bryce Young’s passing arm. The sophomore did well enough, throwing for 302 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, but it was close.

During the fourth quarter, my brother Kirby needed an extra dose of his heart medicine. Fortunately, the ’Bama defense stepped up.

Sophomore linebacker Will Anderson Jr. put on a tackling seminar, with 12 tackles, including 8 solo tackles, one solo sack and another shared with fellow linebacker Christian Harris. In the fourth quarter, when LSU drove more than 70 yards to threaten Alabama’s lead, senior tackle Phidarian Mathis came up with a sack which caused what looked like a fumble, but was ruled an interception. In another key play late in the first half, Harris broke up an LSU pass, tipping the ball into the air where it was intercepted by junior safety Jalyn Armour-Davis:

That pickoff gave the Tide possession at the LSU 39, and Young then hit three of his next five passes, connecting twice to Jameson Williams before hitting John Metchie III for the touchdown.

Just by the way, as my brother commented during last night’s game, Jameson Williams — a junior transfer from Ohio State — has been a “godsend” for Alabama. If he can avoid injury, Williams bids fair to follow DeVonta Smith’s path to the Heisman Trophy and first-round NFL pick. Here he catches a 58-yard touchdown bomb from Bryce Young:

Now I should perhaps mention that Kirby is not a Bryce Young fan. Although Young is listed as six feet tall, that’s three inches shorter than Mac Jones, and Kirby thinks Young, whom he calls our “midget quarterback,” is in reality no taller than 5-10. Regardless of that, even a three-inch difference in height is very significant, in terms of a quarterback’s ability to see over the onrushing defensive linemen, who tend to be very tall, and Young’s limitations are obvious enough to anyone who seriously studies the videos. Young hits most of his passes toward the outside, perhaps because of his difficulty in seeing receivers in crossing routes over the middle. While this factor may not prevent Alabama from making another run at the national championship, I think it could reduce Young’s future value in the NFL.

But of course, this is getting way ahead of where Alabama is right now. Their one loss to Texas A&M won’t hurt the Tide in terms of making the playoffs, because A&M is 7-2 (their two losses to Arkansas and Mississippi State) and will move up in the rankings this week. However, a second loss would be fatal to ’Bama’s playoff hopes. The Crimson Tide have two remaining regular season games, against Arkansas (6-3) and archrival Auburn (6-3), and if Alabama struggled against a 4-4 LSU team, how will they do against two arguably superior opponents? This is headache enough for Tide fans, but even if ’Bama manages to win those two games, then they would have to face No. 1 Georgia in the SEC title game. And my God, have you seen Georgia this year?

The Bulldogs average 38.4 points and 180 rushing yards per game. Alabama averages more points per game (43.0), but fewer rushing yards (152.7). Beyond that, Georgia’s defense has been phenomenal, allowing just 59 points in nine games — 6.55 points per game — while Alabama has given up 179 points in nine games, 19.88 average points per game.

Of course, Jesus warned his disciples against borrowing tomorrow’s troubles, and it is therefore un-Christian of Alabama fans to be looking ahead to Georgia, when we know that the Tide will have their hands full against Arkansas next Saturday and Auburn in the Iron Bowl. We must be faithful to Christian teaching, and take them one game at a time, without fretting about a possible apocalypse against Georgia.

It all comes down to the defense, I believe. Alabama returned nine defensive starters from last year’s national champions, but so far this year, they haven’t produced the kind of signature performance that many fans expected. Maybe this win over LSU is a good omen for the future.

But there I go again, borrowing tomorrow’s troubles. Forgive me.



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