Tag Archives: LSU

Alabama’s Achilles Heel? 3rd Down

“You have to execute better,” linebacker Nico Johnson said. ”It’s that simple. We didn’t execute at all starting in the LSU game. We haven’t been getting off the field at all.

“We’ve created good opportunities for ourselves on third down and just haven’t been getting off the field. We’ll have good opportunities like third and more than 12 and we’ll have a bust here and there and it costs us.”

The Tide could be looking to missed tackles as a potential cause for the third down struggles.

“You wouldn’t be asking me about it if it wasn’t an issue,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said to a reporter. “We’ve had more missed tackles, more yards after catch, after contact, the first missed tackle, especially on space plays. That’s one thing we’ve always been is a really good tackling team with a good tackling secondary. That is something that we need to improve on.”

Read my full story on Alabama’s struggles defensively on third down in the last two weeks by clicking here.

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AJ McCarron Interview Video: Nov. 7, 2012

McCarron has more power in the offense

McCarron more calm in Death Valley than at practice

Practice makes perfect. If you can’t get it right in practice, you won’t get it right in the game. Practice is indicative of success in games. You know the drill.

When the lights are on, the pressure higher and the crowd on-site, when everything is more difficult, the practice saves you.

Or maybe it’s the other way around in the Nick Saban camp.

Quarterback AJ McCarron, who put together a 4-for-5, 72 yard performance on Alabama’s game-winning drive in Death Valley, may have had it easier in Baton Rouge than he does in the friendly confines of the Alabama practice facility.

“Probably, because you don’t have Saban yelling, ‘Let’s go!’,” McCarron said. It gives you a little more time. I felt comfortable the whole time.”

Practice, especially when the two-minute portion of each Thursday practice begins, is a hotly-contested affair.

“It’s just fun,” McCarron said. “You get to go out against one of the top defenses in the country in every category, get to go up against some of the crazy blitzes Coach Saban and Coach Smart come up with. It makes you a better player.”

Although there is no scoreboard at the practice facility, the competitive flavor is not lost.

A thought lingers out that the offense wins about 50 percent of the situations Saban puts them in practice, in which the time left on the clock, number of timeouts left, spot on the field and what’s needed to win or tie variate.

“Maybe a little less than that,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “Every Thursday, we do our two-minute drill with the offense. Either they need a touchdown or a field goal to score. And coach gives them like a minute thirty, minute fifteen, one timeout, two timeouts. Just different scenarios.

“And when we get in that situation, everybody turns – it’s like a game. We try our best to stop them from scoring. Sometimes they get plays, sometimes we get our plays.”

Saban said he is, for the most part, happy when the offense finds a way to score in practice.

McCarron isn’t so sure.

“Sometimes, probably,” McCarron said after a brief chuckle in disbelief. “Sometimes, you’re like, ‘Uh, I kind of wish we didn’t score right there.

“You know Coach Saban. He’s going to dislike something in every drive.”

After countless repetitions of the drill in practice, performing when everything was on the line was no big feat for McCarron. In a way, he found a way to put more pressure on himself.

“I told the guys if we complete the first pass, we’ll win the ball game,” he said. “When I completed the first pass, the line turned around and looked back at me and was like, ‘Alright, let’s go.’”

Alabama Football Player Interviews: Nov. 6, 2012

Chance Warmack, Adrian Hubbard and Damion Square visit with the media to talk about the big road win over LSU and a little bit about the upcoming game with Texas A&M.

Inside the huddle for the winning drive

With 1:34 left on the clock, the Alabama offense, led by AJ McCarron, took the field. It had only mustered 49 yards to that point in the second half, 34 of them one one drive near the end of the third quarter that ended in a lost fumble.

The Alabama faithful were nervous, as you can see here. Even CBS’ play-by-play man Verne Lundquist questioned if optimism could be founded on sound logic.

None of such thoughts were happening on the field.

“It was straight focus,” wide receiver Kevin Norwood said. “Like I said, we knew we had to move the ball down the field. We knew we had to get something going, either a field goal or a touchdown.

“We held our fours to the sky, like we always do, and we changed the game.”

While Yeldon’s screen pass for a touchdown is receiving the glory, Norwood paved the way for the big play almost entirely by himself.

McCarron found Norwood on the first play of the drive on a quick route which Norwood ran up the field, dragging Vincent LeDuff with him, to gain 18 yards.

After another completion to Norwood, this time for 15 yards, McCarron went to Norwood yet again on a sideline route that Norwood made a play on for 11 yards and managed to get out-of-bounds to stop the clock.

Norwood said he loves running those sideline routes.

“Just have sideline awareness,” he said. “We practice those every week, every day. It’s just a lot of sideline awareness for me.”

Norwood especially loves those routes in crunch time, like against LSU on Saturday.

“It’s just the fact that you catch the ball, get out of bounds, stop the clock and give us the time to huddle and get the right plays called,” Norwood said.

After Norwood’s well-executed sideline comeback route, he had a chance to score the winning touchdown for himself, but was tripped up in the end zone allowing the ball to fall to the ground, incomplete.

“Their head tripped on my leg, and I just fell,” Norwood said. “I wish I had better balance.”

All was forgiven as the nation saw Yeldon scamper into the endzone to give Alabama its 21-17lead and final score.

CBS reported its highest overnight rating of the season for the 2012 Alabama-LSU game, but that doesn’t mean everyone was watching it.

Not even everyone in the stadium was watching.

“My eyes were closed,” linebacker Adrian Hubbard said. “I was just praying, ‘C’mon, please come through.’

“When they threw the ball, all I heard was yelling and I looked up and there was T.J. running down the sideline for a touchdown.”

Coaching Staff Players of the Week: LSU

The Alabama coaching staff has named its Players of the Week for the week of the Tide’s big road win against LSU.

Offense: D.J. Fluker, Cyrus Kouandjio and Kevin Norwood. Fluker and Kouandjio tied for the team-high with an 89 percent grade from the coaching staff. THe two also combined to help the offensive line lead the way for Alabama to run for 166 yards against the Tigers. Norwood caught five passes for 62 yards, including three-straight on the final touchdown drive.

Defense: Adrian Hubbard and Xzavier Dickson. Hubbard, also named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week, earned a career-high 12 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for a loss and 0.5 sacks. Dickson added five tackles.

Special Teams: Cody Mandell and Vinnie Sunseri. Mandell punted seven times for 45.1 yards per punt, including dropping two inside-the-20. Mandell booted one for 56 yards and another for 55. Sunseri had two of his four tackles in kick coverage.