Opposing coach's take: Sizing up Alabama before the Sugar Bowl
A coach whose team played Alabama this year assesses the Crimson Tide's strengths and weaknesses.
The emphasis on tempo works for them. I think [offensive coordinator] Lane [Kiffin] does a great job mixing and matching it all up -- and moving Amari Cooper all over the field. He plays every position. He’ll be the single receiver out of trips, he’ll be snugged up next to the left tackle, or he might be motioning across the field. The ability to play faster than they have in the past and move Cooper all over the field causes a lot of problems. You have to know where he is, but he could be anywhere.
Blake Sims manages the game great, and he can make some plays with his feet when needed. That’s where the game is going. You’re not going to be able to call perfect plays all the time, and if you’ve got a quarterback who can get out of those bad situations and create something positive, it’s beneficial. In the running game, you watch T.J. Yeldon touch the ball, and it’s like a different level from everybody else. He’s not always going to run you over. He’s going to run by you, or he’s going to make you go one direction and get you off-balance.
On defense they’re like those tough Alabama teams of the past. They’ve got guys who are hard to move up front, big bodies, and they’ve still got a lot of twitch to them: They’re athletic. To succeed against them, you’ve got to create run schemes that give you better blocking angles. You can’t just come off the ball -- fly off the ball -- and move these guys. You’re going to have to create a lot of misdirection-type stuff, a lot of down-blocking, power-concept-type stuff, just so you can get the proper angles. Even that is easier said than done because they do a lot of stunts and twists and everything to create penetration and a pass rush.
They had some struggles early in the season finding consistency at corner, but they’ve settled down. Cyrus Jones is a lock-down guy, and Landon Collins is in the right spot every single time. And he’s physical. And he can cover. He can do it all.