Rapid Reaction: Alabama's defense dominates, shuts out Louisiana Monroe
Here are some quick thoughts on Alabama’s 34-0 victory against Louisiana Monroe Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
What it means: Alabama has to get better. This wasn’t quite the emphatic bounce back from last week’s loss to Ole Miss that most Crimson Tide fans expected or hoped for. Yeah, the final score was lopsided, but the Louisiana Monroe offense was extremely inept and for much of the game Alabama wasn’t much better. Comparing scores isn’t necessarily going to tell you everything you need to know because factors change week to week, but Georgia was much more impressive in its opening-week thrashing of the Warhawks.
What I liked: Adam Griffith was perfect on kicks, making all four extra points and two field goals, including a 40-yarder. That’s a good sign for the Tide after his early season struggles.
What I didn’t like: While it was nice to see the Tide make an effort to throw it deep early in the game, the wide receivers didn’t show an ability to consistently get any separation on deep routes. Meanwhile quarterback Jake Coker struggled to hit the mark on the occasions they did and his second-quarter interception was badly underthrown. Alabama can dink and dunk and overpower Louisiana Monroe with the running game, but at some point the Tide’s running game is likely to struggle if it can’t even threaten to beat a team over the top.
Who’s the man: Derrick Henry had a quiet game by his standards, carrying just 13 times for 52 yards, but he scored a touchdown for the ninth straight game. He now has eight touchdowns in four games this season.
Key play: The Warhawks lined up to punt on their opening drive of the second quarter from their own 26-yard line. The snap was online, but a ULM up back stepped in front and the ball bounced off his shoulder and over the head of punter Chris Qualls, who tracked the ball down and carried it back out to the 15 to avoid a safety. But Coker hit freshman Calvin Ridley for a touchdown on the first play of the possession to make it a 14-0 lead. Alabama didn’t look fantastic in the first half, but that offered some cushion on the scoreboard.
What’s next: The Crimson Tide faces a tough challenge on the road against undefeated and seventh-ranked Georgia. You don’t want to put too much importance on a game in the first weekend of October, but in this case Alabama’s championship aspirations — both of the SEC and national variety — could hang in the balance. Nick Chubb has been nearly unstoppable running the ball and the passing game led by transfer quarterback Greyson Lambert has been remarkably efficient the past two weeks. It’s a different kind of challenge for the Alabama defense than Ole Miss, but it might not be any easier, especially on the road.