If you watched the Alabama Crimson Tide football team on Saturday, you witnessed a lot of unfamiliarity. For one, Alabama football doesn't typically travel to face a Group of Five school like South Florida on the road. But that's exactly what happened. Secondly, you don't see Alabama football struggle with schools like South Florida, beating them by only 14 points, scoring 17 overall. But that's exactly what happened. If you're an Alabama fan, you have to be asking, “What exactly happened to this team?”
Alabama falls to No. 13 in AP Poll
If Sunday feels weird, it's because Alabama isn't in the top 10 of the AP Poll. It's the first time that Alabama hasn't been ranked in the top 10 since September 27, 2015. A loss to Ole Miss was the reason for that, yet the Crimson Tide made their way right back into the top 10 in October that year and eventually went on to win the national championship that season. But this team doesn't resemble anything of the 2015 team for a couple of reasons.
2. Quarterback play
Alabama's quarterback during 2015 was Jake Coker, who many have probably forgotten about by now. Coker only had four games passing for over 250 yards and likewise completed more than 20 passes. He also threw for only three touchdowns in two out 15 games that season. Alabama football was much different back then compared to now. Alabama never needed dominant play from the quarterback position then. They had enough talent around the quarterback to win games, like Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake, OJ Howard, and Calvin Ridley. Not to mention one of the best defenses in the country. Alabama doesn't have any of that now. But now they need a quarterback in what has become an increasingly quarterback-driven league.
Coming into the season, there was uneasiness about who would play quarterback. Head coach Nick Saban would never tell the media who was starting, which left many thinking there was good reason, or he was just being stubborn with the media and not letting it out. Alabama didn't release who was starting until the day before their first game of the season against Middle Tennessee State University. Jalen Milroe was the guy, who had filled in for former Heisman winner and now starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, Bryce Young.
With the track record that Alabama and Saban have, most went into the season believing that “Saban's got it figured out” concerning the starting quarterback position. After all, he's done it time and time again, being that he's considered the greatest coach to ever do it. But times and the sport are changing. Alabama hasn't looked this confused at quarterback since probably well before Saban's arrival. It's now a quarterback carousel with the previous starter in Milroe, this past week's starter in Tyler Buchner, and Ty Simpson all lacking in some form or fashion.
1. Offensive line play
As bad as the quarterback play has been, part of that could be from the lackluster offensive line. Again, this isn't something that has been a recurring issue for Alabama. What's made them such a dominating team over the last two decades has been their play on the line of scrimmage. But that's just not the case with this year's team, especially the offensive line.
Against the Texas Longhorns, the Alabama offensive line allowed five sacks, even with the more mobile quarterback in Milroe. Against the South Florida Bulls on Saturday, the line allowed another five sacks, with Buchner, who started, and Simpson, who finished the game, facing constant pressure.
It all goes hand-in-hand at this point as an offense. But this is something that seems to be getting worse by the week for Alabama. This South Florida football team, before the game against Alabama on Saturday, was allowing 32.5 points a game. Florida A&M scored more points against the Bulls than Alabama did the week before (24).