Skip to main content
Publish date:

Yes, There is Value in Blowouts, Especially for this Alabama Team

Yes, Alabama dismantled New Mexico State, but it also took a much-needed step in the team's development.

Everything's an opportunity. 

That's the only way to look at a game like New Mexico State at Alabama, one of the biggest mismatches in college football Saturday .

The Crimson Tide come in ranked No. 2, still having national championship aspirations. 

Even though New Mexico State plays at the Football Bowl Subdivision as an independent, the Aggies were 1-8, and getting a $1.9 million payout to make the trip. 

They were the expendable crewman from Star Trek, and they served their purpose well. 

In no ways was this game close. 

With New Mexico State wearing similar colors and numbers on the side of their helmet, it almost looked like Alabama was facing its second-string players — although let's be honest, very few of the Aggies would be that high on the depth chart.

That NMSU was able to score points first at Bryant-Denny Stadium was about the only surprise. From then Alabama scored 59 unanswered points, bringing to mind the settings on a blender: mash, chop and liquefy.

While it's easy to look at the pairing and wonder why bother, that's the last thing Nick Saban would say, especially considering what the Crimson Tide is about to face:

No. 25 Arkansas visits next week.

Alabama subsequently goes to rival Auburn, No. 17 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

Should it pull those off, it heads to Atlanta for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown with Georgia, with the season on the line. 

Due to the loss at Texas A&M last month, Alabama has to sweep all three wins against ranked opponents, which would be an extremely difficult task for any team, any year, to know it has a spot in the playoff.

So the outcome against New Mexico State may never have been in doubt. But that doesn't mean the game wasn't important.

Saban told the team it was like "Judgment Day."

This is a team that's still trying to pull it all together, coming off a narrow victory over a depleted LSU roster. Its coach openly wondered about its identity and the offensive line seemed to have as many questions as holes it created. 

It's obvious now that Alabama never should have been preseason No. 1 in polls, or through the first few weeks of the season. Not with so much turnover, both in terms of personnel and assistant coaches, and a schedule that would have been challenging for even the most veteran of teams. 

Read More

The question all along was how well will it develop and come together, to hopefully have a shot to be there at the end. 

Consequently, even the practice time for this game would be beneficial. But Saban, like always, expected more. 

For example, even though two starters on the offensive line were held out due to injuries, and Chris Owens was at center again instead of right tackle, the coach wanted to see the offense re-establish the run and make strides in the passing game.

He wanted to see more tempo. More RPOs. More play-action.

And better. 

It was. 

Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young had a record-setting first half, completing 21 of 23 passes for 270 yards and five touchdowns. Meanwhile, the rushing game averaged 7.0 yards per handoff before the reserves completely took over in the third quarter. 

The offense regained a lot of confidence and along the way did things like work the tight ends back in the passing game (Jahleel Billingsley for instance, who after having a dropped pass in the end zone caught the next one). It also gave the upcoming opponents more to worry about.

So yes, it was a blowout. 

The ultimate goal of escaping without any significant injuries didn't even make it through the first quarter. Freshman JoJo Earle was in pain after an early punt return, and wouldn't put any weight down on his left foot.

Defensive back DeMarcco Hellams (back) also left the game and running back Roydell Williams immediately grabbed his right leg/knee when he went down late in the second quarter. 

So yes, the day wasn't perfect, either.

But any game experience is good experience, and something a team can build on. Players like defensive lineman LaBryan Ray got closer to being the force he's been in the past, while the college game slowed down a little more for freshmen like Dallas Turner. 

Alabama also clearly didn't take practices for granted this past week, and continued to fine-tune the details that make all the difference at this point of the season.

For the most part the Crimson Tide wasn't sloppy. It was efficient. It executed while improving to 9-1.

Good thing, too, because the postseason essentially starts next week for the Crimson Tide. 

This story will be updated following postgame press conferences, and with video. Christopher Walsh's column appears regularly on BamaCentral.