Published September 19, 2012 - 9:25am
NEW: Discuss this topic in the Google+ community for SEC fans.
Reload and destroy.
It can’t be any better for Nick Saban right now. He has the media by the testicles, scared to write anything negative about the Tide’s opponents so it doesn’t get into his players’ heads, and he has the Alabama program on autopilot, destroying any and every opponent that threatens to line up against them.
“I thought that it was a very tough game for the first quarter of the game.” Nick Saban in reference to the Arkansas game.
That explains it rather well.
Alabama has posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1980, a year in which the Tide were coming off consecutive national championship seasons. Alabama has destroyed all three opponents this season, Michigan 41-14, WKU 35-0 and Arkansas 52-0. This weekend they play FAU, who is 1-2 and scored a total of 44 points in three games. The Owls have been outscored 90-44 during the three-game stretch. And they’re about to hit a landmine in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama is currently 50.5 point-favorites, and FAU was torched against Georgia last week 56-20, with UGA rolling up a school-record 713 yards of total offense.
All the talk about Alabama having to replace three of four in the secondary, four linebackers and the all-important nose tackle is out the window. It’s an afterthought.
In 2011, we saw Alabama field what could be called one of the best, if not the best, defenses in the history of college football. They allowed a measly 183.6 total yards per game the entire season. Alabama held opponents’ offenses to no touchdowns six times last year. No doubt the secondary, led by Dre Kirkpatrick, Mark Barron, Robert Lester and DeQuan Menzie, is largely considered the greatest secondary in college football history. They were as physical of a defense as anyone has seen.
And yet you look at the type of players Alabama has continued to develop this season.
Saban has a new crop of talent that is arguably developing faster that its predecessors. Just look at corner Dee Milliner, who had meaningful snaps the last two years but has exploded this season to where Saban feels comfortable enough to put him on an island with any receiver in the country. Look at Vinnie Sunseri, a coach’s son who excelled on special teams last season. He’s stepped in and done a great job at safety, filling in for Mark Barron.
Several coaches – (cough) Dabo Swinney – can recruit top talent each and every year – but the thing that will always separate Saban from the rest of the cluster behind him jockeying for the #2 coach of the year award is player development. He recruits the best talent, and he develops that talent better than any other coach, maybe ever. Urban Meyer is a stellar recruiter, but Nick Saban gets just as many blue chip prospects who develop and project better.
Alabama is currently ranked sixth in total defense in the country, allowing 210 yards per game and 3.56 yards per play through three games. Expect those numbers to improve throughout the season.
Bama has not missed a beat and is creating a new identity of toughness, much like its antecedents.