Alabama football isn’t where it needs to be, despite its current record of 7-1. The energy inside Bryant-Denny Stadium excites players for home games, but the Crimson Tide is a different team on the road. Obtaining wins in the Southeastern Conference is difficult enough, but dominating opponents on the road is an entirely different monster.
Alabama’s Production //
Bryant-Denny Stadium
Alabama is undefeated at home this season. Its offense looks fluid and defense is stifling. Offensively, Alabama is averaging 48.5 points and 610.3 yards of offense.
Senior quarterback Blake Sims spreads the wealth better at Bryant-Denny Stadium. He has completed 71.3 percent of his passes for 1,109 yards (277.3 yards per game) and 11 touchdowns. Sims executes the offense better and displays more poise at home.
Junior receiver Amari Cooper has abused man-to-man coverage schemes all season. He collected 18 receptions for 341 yards and five touchdowns combined against Florida and Texas A&M. Cooper has benefitted from Lane Kiffin’s system, but playing in front of the home crowd has helped a lot more. 39 of Cooper’s 62 receptions have come in Bryant-Denny Stadium. He’s registered 39 catches for 665 yards (166.3 yards per game) and seven touchdowns at home.
Even Alabama’s run game displays a bounce in its step at home. The Crimson Tide’s offensive line has guided its backs to 1,044 rushing yards (261.0 yards per game) and 12 scores.
Defensively, Alabama has been solid at home. Opposing offenses have averaged 195 yards (62.8 rushing yards) and 10.8 points per game.
Alabama’s Production //
Road Games
Prior to the Tennessee game, the Crimson Tide averaged 15.5 points and 311.5 yards of offense combined against Ole Miss and Arkansas. Both teams disrupted Alabama’s timing and pressured Blake Sims.
Sims hasn’t been comfortable on the road. Nerves could be an issue, but Sims must gain confidence away from Bryant-Denny if Alabama wants to win a championship. He tends to lean too much on Amari Cooper on the road, in my opinion. This has caused Sims to telegraph some of his pass attempts. He’s completed 56.9 percent of his passes for 389 yards (194.5 yards per game) and two touchdowns.
The Crimson Tide’s offensive line hasn’t fared well on the road. Alabama’s allowed three sacks and its run game has been dormant. The Crimson Tide’s totaled 260 rushing yards (130.0 yards per game) and a touchdown.
Texas A&M and Florida failed, but Arkansas and Ole Miss succeeded on covering Amari Cooper. Both teams provided safety help and baited Sims to target other receivers. Cooper has 11 catches for 113 yards on the road.
Defense is the lone constant for Alabama in both aspects. The Crimson Tide’s allowed 18 points and 329 yards of offense on the road. Opponents have rushed for 80.5 yards with one score. Alabama’s defense collected six sacks and has forced four turnovers.
Alabama vs. Tennessee
Alabama’s offense looked dismal against Ole Miss and Arkansas, but it was aggressive in the first quarter against Tennessee. Blake Sims and Amari Cooper established a connection early. Cooper ended the first quarter with five catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
The Crimson Tide led 20-0 at the end of the first quarter, but lost its focus and intensity. Tennessee mounted a comeback in the second quarter. The Volunteers outscored Alabama 20-14. Sophomore quarterback Joshua Dobbs gave Tennessee fans hope. He threw for 192 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Prior to Tennessee, Alabama’s defense allowed 63.4 rushing yards per game. Dobbs and the Volunteers hung 181 yards rushing on the Crimson Tide. Tennessee totaled 383 yards of offense. Its offensive line surrendered one sack.
Alabama’s run game didn’t get going until the second half. T.J. Yeldon ripped off a few big runs, but there wasn’t much room for him to go. It didn’t result in a turnover, but Yeldon did fumble against the Volunteers. Derrick Henry led Alabama in rushing with 78 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Sims misfired on 10 pass attempts, but he displayed poise on the road. His completion percentage wasn’t great (58.3 percent), but he threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Sims’s mobility was an asset for Alabama in the second half. He was able to move the chains on third down with his feet. Sims totaled 42 yards rushing, including a 28-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Amari Cooper added his name to Alabama’s record book Saturday night. He became Alabama’s first receiver to register two 200-yard receiving performances in a single-season. Cooper’s 224 yards against Tennessee broke Julio Jones’s record against the Volunteers in 2010 (221 yards).
Physical football games call for injuries. The Crimson Tide’s bye week comes at a good time. Freshman offensive lineman Cameron Robinson has a high ankle sprain. Tight End Brian Vogler has a sprained knee. Senior receiver Christion Jones tweaked his hamstring in warmups. Yeldon didn’t play in the second half (foot). Landon Collins had cramps, but he finished the contest. Cooper, DeAndrew White and Austin Shepherd were seen limping on the sidelines during the course of the game.
Alabama defeated Tennessee 34-20. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin was greeted with lustful boos, but left with the Million Dollar Band chanting his name. Head coach Nick Saban improved to a perfect 8-0 against Tennessee. The players puffed cigars in celebration, but rest assured an ash tray will be full of them on Monday.
Consistency on the Road
It feels good to win at home, but true champions conquer on the road. Alabama is back in the College Football Playoff picture after wins against Texas A&M and Tennessee. The Crimson Tide’s offense did some good things in Knoxville, but there is still room for improvement. Team chemistry is great, but the Crimson Tide has yet to put everything together. Neyland Stadium started the process, but Tiger Stadium will be more intense. Baton Rouge will be the last tough road venue for Alabama after its bye week. The Crimson Tide is No.3 nationally. Alabama has its dreams in front of them, but can this team win on the road? Next, Alabama will face LSU at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

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