After week four of the 2020 College Football season, we are already seeing which SEC teams are the serious contenders. Teams like the LSU Tigers showed they are not the same championship defending team after losing their first game of the season. Meanwhile, teams like the Alabama Crimson Tide and Florida Gators look like they are top contenders for their division. Last week, the Crimson Tide got off to a solid start against the Missouri Tigers with a 38-19 win. The Tide wanted to get back to dominating on both sides of the ball. The return of senior middle linebacker Dylan Moses helped the defense tremendously. Alabama also wanted to continue to dominate on offense with their highly productive passing game. That leads us to Alabama’s home opener against Texas A&M.
Last week, the Aggies hosted the Vanderbilt Commodores as they struggled to create any major production. The Aggies won with an underachieving score of 17-12 where they might have looked early into playing Alabama in week five. Either way, the Aggies showed some significant weaknesses and flaws against Vanderbilt. This is something that Alabama can take advantage of in week five.
Alabama’s Home Opener Against Texas A&M
Defense Facing Experienced Dual-Threat Quarterback In Kellen Mond
The Crimson Tide have won seven games in a row versus the Aggies. Alabama is overly cautious of the capabilities of the Aggies’ dual-threat quarterbacks going back to 2012 with Johnny Manziel. Last season, Mond threw for 2,897 yards, 20 touchdowns, and nine interceptions on his best completion percentage in his career (61.6%). He had also had his best rushing performance last season with 501 yards and eight touchdowns on 126 carries. Alabama will have a tough responsibility to ensure they can contain Mond on the ground and through the passing game. Moses and sophomore middle linebacker Christian Harris will have to be key to stopping a scrambling Mond through the outside or up the middle. The Aggies offense fumbled the ball five times while losing three of them last week against Vanderbilt. This is an area that the Tide can expose.
The biggest killer for the Tide’s defense against a dual-threat quarterback is allowing a first down up the middle. This will require defensive tackles DJ Dale and Phidarian Mathis to play tight and not run past Mond in the pass rush. The defensive tackles and end LaBryan Ray must be solid at the line of scrimmage and shed off blocks. The corners for the Tide played great against Missouri but safety Daniel Wright and star Malachi Moore had some points in the game where their inexperience showed. They will need to recognize the play directions more swiftly especially with an Aggies offense that accounted for 189 passing yards and 183 rushing yards against Vanderbilt.
Alabama’s Offense Can Continue Mixing Their Play Selections
Last week, the Tide were facing a Tigers defense that was stout in defending the passing game. The Tide under quarterback Mac Jones was able to throw for 303 passing yards. Jones threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns on 18 completions (out of 24 passing attempts). Jones had a nearly perfect passing performance against Missouri’s defense. The Tide’s dynamic wide receiver in Jaylen Waddle was efficient in getting open and creating big plays. Waddle caught eight receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Their senior wide receiver in DeVonta Smith was able to get himself eight receptions for 89 yards. With only one game in, the Tide’s passing game looks to be in great shape as they will call upon both players to play at an all-SEC caliber level when they play more efficient defenses.
The Aggies gave up 150 passing yards and 105 rushing yards from the Commodores offense last week. This would a good chance for Alabama running back Najee Harris to get his first 100-yard performance of the season. The Tide didn’t need Harris to be explosive as they handled Missouri’s defense early. Harris rushed for 98 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries for an average of 5.8 yards per rush. The offensive line for the Tide was stout in the first three quarters against Missouri. In the fourth quarter with Bryce Young at quarterback, the line collapsed and allowed the Tigers’ defensive line to easily crash the line of scrimmage. They allowed two sacks in the fourth quarter against Missouri. They cannot allow the aggressive defensive line of the Aggies to make an impact in stopping the Tide’s offense.