The No. 1 Crimson Tide gutted out a 49-42 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday, but most wouldn’t know it after listening to Tide coach Nick Saban and players during their Monday news conference. The defense took the most heat from Saban, who saw his team give up the most points since he arrived at the school in 2007.
“From the first seven minutes of the game, we get behind 14-0 and don’t play very well,” Saban said. “The last eight minutes of the game, we give up 21 points. So that’s 35 points right there. In the middle, we settled down and played halfway decent. But on the ends, didn’t do very well.”
The Tide’s defense was historically bad, giving up a school-record 628 yards of total offense. The defense also allowed reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel to throw for a Texas A&M-record 464 passing yards and five touchdowns. Add in his 98 rushing yards and Manziel finished with 562 yards of total offense, which is the second-most in school and SEC history, behind the 576 yards he put up against Louisiana Tech last season.
“Too many big plays, too many missed assignments, too much lack of technique, guys (not) doing what they’re coached to do on a consistent basis,” Saban said. “When you don’t do that and you play against good players, you usually get exposed.”
Saban said the cornerbacks should have had more help in coverage on a few of A&M’s long passes. He also said defensive backs were caught looking in the backfield.
The Tide players watch film from the previous games Monday of the next week.
What does safety Vinnie Sunseri expect to see?
“A lot of improvement a lot of corrections and everybody to get better and take coaching -- has to be coached,” Sunseri said.
Sunseri was ready to move on from talk about A&M’s high-powered offense.
“It’s over with. Today’s a new day and today is a new opportunity to get better,” he said. “We’re not going to face an offense that has a quarterback that’s able to move like he’s able to, hopefully, down the road. It’s an opportunity to get better, and we’re excited for the opportunity.”
For offensive players, Saturday’s game was a bit of a relief. For two weeks, the Tide’s offensive players fielded questions about its inconsistent performance in the season opener, particularly the offensive line.
So, how good did it feel to put some of the criticism to rest?
“Yeah, it felt really good,” Tide left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio said. “People misunderstood the first game. We came out there and did what we were supposed to do.”
Saban was pleased with the Tide offense gaining 568 yards of total offense (334 passing, 234 rushing) on Saturday.
“Played a lot better offensively, communicated better, controlled the line of scrimmage up front, didn’t have a lot of negative plays,” Saban said. “Had a lot of balance running the ball as well as being able to throw it effectively and not have a lot of pressure in the pocket and really control the time of possession in the game, which is really, really important. Especially when you’re playing against an offense like they have.”