Alabama is at the halfway point of its 2013 campaign and, like any team in any year, there have been bright spots and not-so-bright spots.
The difference with Alabama, which is going for its fourth national championship in five years, is that the margin for error is much smaller and the standard is much higher.
Through six games, here are some things you should and shouldn’t be concerned about as the Crimson Tide heads into the second half of their season.
Concern: Secondary Continuity
Deion Belue came into the season as the No. 1 corner, but there was still a question of who would start opposite him. John Fulton started the season at that spot, but lost his job after being abused by Mike Evans and Texas A&M.
It looked like freshman Eddie Jackson had grabbed aholdof the spot after two strong showings against Ole Miss and Georgia State. But Bradley Sylve started in his place Saturday, and head coach Nick Saban hinted that Jackson lost his spot in practice last week.
“We think Eddie’s a good player, too, and he has to continue to focus on his development,” Saban said after the game. “I think the young players have to know that every week’s a new week, it’s a new game plan, you have to have a new focus, be able to prepare and get ready for the next game.
Coupled with the indefinite suspension of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Alabama secondary is still searching for continuity.
Not a Concern: Workhorse Running Backs
T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake carried the loadfor the Crimson Tide against Kentucky, going over 100 yards and scoring two touchdowns apiece. They each also overcame early fumbles en route to a huge day on the ground.
Yeldon was the feature back heading into the season, but last night, Drake showed that he can be a reliable No. 2 option. The Crimson Tide have proven to be extremely difficult to stop on offense when they have two dominant running backs.
Concern: Amari Cooper
Alabama’s freshman All-American receiver has been missing in action for much of his sophomore season. He recorded three catches for 64 yards last night off the bench, but he only has 164 yards and no touchdowns on the year.
Alabama certainly has its fair share of explosive receivers—DeAndrew White, Christion Jones and Kenny Bell have all made big plays this year. And Kevin Norwood has shown his incredible hands and possession skills.
But Cooper was one of the most dominant receivers in the country last year, and defenses had to account for him on every play. That’s not the case this year.
It’s not a dire need at this point, but having Cooper back to old form only gives the Crimson Tide another playmaker, and an elite one at that, on a team already loaded with them.
Not a Concern: Front Seven
Alabama’s defensive front seven has been nothing short of dominant to start the year.
On the defensive line, freshman A’Shawn Robinson has turned into one of the Crimson Tide’s most disruptive options. He recorded two sacks Saturday night, bringing his total to four on the year. Like most years, the group is deep and talented, bringing in fresh bodies when needed.
Behind them, C.J. Mosley has cemented himself as one of the top middle linebackers in the country on the field. Off the field, he has done his part to keep the team from getting too complacent, speaking up when he sees that seeping in.
Denzel Devall and Adrian Hubbard have put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, even if the sack totals don’t show it.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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