No. 2 Alabama is set to host the LSU Tigers this Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. With the dismissal of Ed Orgeron looming, the matchup doesn’t have quite the amount of anticipation as in seasons past.
Even with the lack of national exposure, this is a significant matchup within the western division of the SEC.
Let’s take a look at five keys to victory for Alabama as they face off against the Bayou Bengals as well as the remainder of its regular-season schedule.
Getting the TE's involved in the offense again
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You really couldn’t have scripted a better start to the season for the Alabama tight ends. Even with Jahleel Billingsley starting the season in the doghouse, both he and Cameron Latu impressed the first few weeks of the season.
In the first three games of the season, Billingsley and Latu combined for 14 catches for 250 yards and 6 touchdowns. In the weeks since the two have combined for just 10 catches for 123 yards and one touchdown.
Along with the lack of production, drops have also been an issue for both Billingsley and Latu.
Hopefully, each player has hit the reset button during the BYE week, and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has formulated a plan to reinvigorate the tight end room.
Removing some of the running game load from Brian Robinson Jr.
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
There is no question that the injury to Jase McClellan placed much of the running back load on Brian Robinson Jr., at least initially.
With McClellan in the lineup, Robinson was averaging around 12 rushing attempts per game. Since the injury to McClellan, he is averaging 26 attempts per game.
I am sure Nick Saban and the coaching staff would like to keep that number to around 20 attempts per game. That means guys like Roydell Williams and Trey Sanders need to start taking some of the load off the aforementioned Robinson.
The BYE week should have given the two young stars a chance to improve and show they are ready to handle more touches in the game.
Consistent offensive line play
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Without question one of the weaknesses of the 2021 Alabama football team is the offensive line.
It’s not that they are not good, they are just really inconsistent. Whether it is pre-snap penalties, miscommunication, or just flat out getting beat, the offensive line has not played up to the Alabama standard.
There has been no word of any changes possibly being made along the line, but regardless of who trots out on the field for the Tide, consistency is the key to success for this group.
Getting Bryce Young on the move (just a little)
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Leading up to the Tennessee game, fans of the Tide were begging for Bryce Young to take better advantage of his athletic ability. Against the Volunteers, Young took full advantage, rushing for 42 yards and adding two touchdowns on the ground.
With the struggles of the offensive line, we could see Bill O’Brien start to move Young more, whether that be with roll-outs or boot-legs.
Young’s ability to improvise when the play breaks down adds a facet to the offense that creates nightmares for the opposing defenses.
Even if the change is subtle, I think it’s time for the offense to embrace the athletic ability of Young.
Limit explosive plays in the passing game
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
It is hard to find much fault with the Alabam rush defense. Currently, the Tide sits with the fourth-best rush defense in the country. Alabama has faced three of the top thirteen rushing attacks in the country, so I think it is safe to say the Tide is pretty sound against the run.
The pass defense is where red flags begin to be raised. The Tide ranks 53rd in the country in passing yards allowed which is nowhere near what it needs to be.
The explosive plays in the passing game that the defense has allowed have been a problem all season long.
Missed alignments and missed assignments have plagued the back end of the defense. If Alabama can find a way to limit the explosive plays, this could be one of the better defenses in the country.
Stay tuned to Roll Tide Wire for all the latest on the Crimson Tide!