Season openers are one of the most important games teams play each year. They show teams what they did well, what they need improvement on, and what they can learn from the first game of the season. Alabama played Virginia Tech in Atlanta for the 2013 season opener. Although the Tide won 35-10, they showed that they have a lot to work on during their bye week before they travel to College Station to play Texas A&M.
What Alabama did well:
- Special Teams: Christion Jones did a superb job on special teams by securing the win for the Tide with a 72 yard punt return for a touchdown, as well as a kickoff return for 94 yards. Special teams also dominated with Cade Foster and Cody Mandell who both showed tremendous improvement in the kicking game for the Tide.
- Defensive Line– Alabama’s defensive line did a pretty good job of stopping the Hokies’ rushing attack. Although there was a 77-yard run that the Tide’s defense surrendered, all in all, their defense made the Hokies punt 13 out of 16 of their drives.
What Alabama needs improvement on:
- Offense– AJ McCarron and the Crimson Tide offense need to dramatically improve before they play Texas A&M. Last season, the Alabama offense averaged 445.5 ypg and, on Saturday, they were only able to get 206 total yards against Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech did a great job on defense of stopping Alabama’s run game, and also getting past Alabama’s offensive line to rush AJ McCarron. McCarron was forced to throw out of bounds, incomplete, and also took an intentional grounding penalty. The Alabama offense seemed to be lacking heart and passion as well as organization. Nick Saban will have to focus on the offensive line as well as the running and passing game for the Tide
- Defense-The Crimson Tide is known for defense, but against the Hokies they looked tired, even at the beginning of the game. The safeties and corners for the Tide seemed to be getting constantly beat by Virginia Tech’s wide receivers which is a concern against A&M. Johnny Manziel and the Aggie offense are going to be throwing many deep passes against Bama, so it’s crucial that Saban works to making the corners and safeties more of a threat on the defense.
- The entire Alabama football team needs to refocus and regroup. After Saturday’s win, Bama needs to start playing with more heart and passion. With a team that has won back to back national championships, Bama needs to play with the pride and passion they have shown in previous years. Saban needs to make sure his team is mentally strong for the next game.
Some teams get their wake up call too late in the season to help make any impact, but this season opener against Virginia Tech was the great wake up call the Tide needed. It showed them that they still need to work 100% every game on both sides of the ball if they want their shot at winning their third straight National Championship. There is no doubt in my mind that Nick Saban will dramatically change both the physical strength and mental strength in his team for the Texas A&M game on September 14th.