While it’s still possible for Alabama to make the playoffs the problem is that Alabama doesn’t have any quality wins. Their best win is against LSU. The best team they played was Auburn and they lost. So the committee can easily put a two loss team over them if that two loss team has a quality win over a top five opponent and a conference title. Plus the whole of America would be happy to see a playoff that is Tideless. The evidence also suggests that Alabama in it’s present form could not beat any of the nations best teams anyway.
It’s fairly easy to sum up Alabama’s Iron Bowl loss and their season. Alabama in need of a first down during this game passed the ball to Bo Scarborough. He was only a yard from the first down marker and Bo who weighs in at around 235 lbs had only a 187 lb corner in his way. In any other Alabama season that would be automatic, but in 2017 Bo lets this little corner drop him like a bad habit where he made contact. This one play dramatically illustrates this seasons demise. Alabama just isn’t MAN enough. They are very athletic, they look good in the team picture. But they are nothing special between the while lines of a football field. I am not blaming the loss on Bo Scarbough, but this play illustrates it best.
The player who bears most of the blame is Jalen Hurts. His 13 completions for only 177 yards capped a flat out crap season for the 2nd year quarterback. While he did show some improvement the improvement was minuscule compared to the gulf between him and a championship level quarterback. Jalen remains a dangerous weapon, but only because of his feet, and even at that he is not as effective a runner as advertised. He’s just an above average runner and below average as a passer. It’s not his physical abilities that betray him. He can make all the throws, it’s his ability to see the field, to spot the open man and deliver the ball quickly.
In the Iron Bowl Alabama’s offensive line gave him ample time to pass. He was just in over his head against a division I defense. Because of the unexpected win two weeks ago the staff left him in thinking he would come up with another late game scoring flurry only to watch him flounder away the 4th quarter ending the game in an embarrassing 13 point loss. Everyone thought that Jalen Hurts had something magical about him, even as the statistical data began to mount that he was sub par. In two seasons he had not had a 300 yard game and for that his supporters had many excuses. He didn’t play complete games in blowouts, etc…. Well that was the case with many quarterbacks on good teams. Still they always had great games here and there. But for Jalen this just wasn’t happening. Saturday down on the plains the ugly truth revealed itself. Jalen Hurts was just a great athlete who occasionally throws the ball.
Alabama’s coaching staff should be running laps after this disaster as well. They started the season keeping the touches down on Damien Harris because they wanted him to be healthy down the stretch. Only thing is the stretch came and Damien Harris never got more carries. They left their most dangerous offensive weapon on the bench, only getting 6 carries. This is possibly the most inexcusable moronic move I’ve ever seen in my 40 plus years of watching Alabama football. Six carries. Let that sink in. He averaged 8.5 yards a carry and he got 6 carries. They could have given him 18 carries and likely won the game going away. Once again the religious devotion Jalen Hurts blinded them to the fact that the answer was drinking cool aid on the bench wondering why he was not playing. Damien Harris is now eligible for the NFL draft and will be gone. He could be the best runner Alabama has had and they essentially didn’t use him. I’m sure whatever NFL team drafts him will thank us for not putting mileage on his tires.
I know Nick Saban has been very successful, but how can this happen? How can something this ignorant go on? I’m seriously at a loss. I want to believe in them, but Alabama fans need and deserve answers as to why they pissed away the 2017 season.
Not that the players are innocent of course. There was no question which team wanted this game more. The Auburn Tigers out hit, out blocked, out everything the Crimson Tide. They were hungry, the Tide looked like they just didn’t want to be there. This stinks of a leadership vacuum on the team. This stinks of arrogance and overconfidence. This game was not about talent this game was about a team with the desire to be a champion, and that team was not Alabama. Where did that go? That used to be our thing, and how do they get it back?
Defensively the returning linebackers were ineffective. They did allow for some better rotation to keep the defense from getting tired but they were far from 100%. Still the 23 point effort was not the reason Alabama lost, it was mostly on the offense. Alabama should have scored 24 to 30 and would have if Jalen could just see the receivers who were open and Damien Harris were running the ball.
Much has been made about the two bad snaps. They do something very common today in that the Quarterback claps his hands instead of yells a cadence. I’m not sure why this is, perhaps Jalen’s voice doesn’t carry in loud stadiums. On the first play senior center Bradley Bozeman claims he heard a clap. I don’t know if a crafty Auburn player did that, if he did I don’t think that was caught on camera. If so that’s not the first time a defense simulated a snap, it was rampant in high school and is technically illegal but rarely gets called. In the second case Bo Scarborough inexplicably clapped his hands to get some lineman’s attention. This while boneheaded should have been a point of emphasis for the offensive coaches, for everyone to know the one thing you cannot do is clap your hands. In my opinion this practice should be abandoned for the very reasons you see illustrated in these two plays. the clap noise is too easy to simulate and or accidentally make. Hindsight is 20/20 of course and I see many college teams doing this today. I believe after this disaster you’ll see the practice quickly abandoned.
EDIT: It has been confirmed that Auburn defensive back Tray Matthews simulated the snap by clapping . He did this twice causing a false start on the other occasion. Again this is never going to be called by the ref’s. They cannot use this technique.
Alabama should get a good new years day bowl but if history serves as a guide look for them to sleep walk through that game and probably get hammered by some hungry team wanting to make a name for themselves. The only question is will Nick Saban finally realize Jalen’s not the answer and give Tua a chance to start and give Damien Harris the 18 or 20 carry game he should have been getting since the LSU game.