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Instant Analysis: Alabama's Special Day
Alabama's Christion Jones
Alabama's Christion Jones
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 31, 2013


How concerned should Alabama be when it heads to College Station in two weeks? How encouraged should Virginia Tech be after a strong performance by its defense? Here's the initial reaction of the CFN staff to Saturday evening's game in Atlanta.

By Matt Zemek
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Can a decisive win be sufficient cause for concern? Can a decisive loss possibly offer reason for hope? In the case of the 2013 lid-lifter for Alabama and Virginia Tech, the answer just might be yes.

Obviously, Alabama’s defense looked solid against Virginia Tech. Just as obviously, Alabama’s special teams performance was superb. It is of course true that a comfortable week-one win is never anything to get too worried about. Moreover, the Crimson Tide will improve over the course of the season; teams don’t remain static from Aug. 31 all the way through early December.

Yet, one cannot deny that Nick Saban has a lot of issues to confront before his team faces Texas A&M on Sept. 14. The offensive line is priority number one. Getting A.J. McCarron in rhythm is also an urgent need for The Hound, who is trying to chase down a third consecutive national title. Teams can’t count on pick-sixes and multiple kick returns for touchdowns. Moreover, Logan Thomas and Johnny Manziel are just a wee bit different in terms of quality. Alabama has work to do.

As for Virginia Tech, this loss – while lopsided on the scoreboard – revealed a team that just might be able to win the ACC Coastal. The Hokies’ defense has been the program’s best unit for the past few years, but it hadn’t been as fierce or as steady as it was against Alabama. Yes, the Tide’s offensive line is not as good as last year’s group, but if the Hokies’ front seven can push around offensive lines in this manner over the next three months, the other contenders in the Coastal won’t score much against Virginia Tech.

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Unimpressed.

As expected, Bama rolled to an easy win over Virginia Tech, getting a little help from every unit, especially the defense. However, while just one game, the Tide looks a little more vulnerable than at any point during the last two championship seasons.

The D was sensational, save for the long Trey Edmunds touchdown run, and the special teams got things going with a Christion Jones punt return for six. What’s up with the offense, though? Sure, the Hokies have speed and talent on defense, but Bama had all kinds of problems establishing the line of scrimmage, which has never been an issue during the Nick Saban era. Not only was hobbled QB AJ McCarron eminently ordinary, but T.J. Yeldon and the rest of the backs were never allowed to build any momentum.

Bama dominates with defense and an assertive, downhill running game. If only half of that blueprint is clicking with consistency this fall, that quest for a third straight national championship is going to be a whole lot tougher to reach. The Tide took care of business in Atlanta, but not without some justifiable cause for concern.

By Phil Harrison
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It wasn’t the typical dominating performance from the Tide, but it was more than good enough -- thanks to special teams and a typical smothering defense.

Even when Alabama isn’t firing on all cylinders under Nick Saban, it’s still tough to beat because of the dearth of talent in all aspects of the game. If the offense isn’t on top of its game, the defense can rule the day. If the defense isn’t playing with a full-deck, the offense can play the trump card. And if it all goes a little haywire, the Tide has the best coaching staff in the Milky Way Galaxy to tinker its way through. There simply aren’t too many holes to exploit in this dynasty.

Speaking of which, If you’re the head coach or athletic director in the FBS at good ‘ole State U, and you want to jeopardize job security by agreeing to play a Nick Saban led Alabama squad in the non-conference part of the schedule, you’d better find a creative way to play this juggernaut with the Tide having just one week to prepare.

Michigan and Notre Dame found it out last year, and Virginia Tech is now downing Benadryl and Ibuprofen to soothe the wounds that were just administered in Atlanta. Surely Frank Beamer and company have to feel like they put up more than a pillow-fight, but the scoreboard still says tuneup thanks to two kick-return touchdowns by Christion Jones.

Ho-hum. Off to College Station. A quick look at the schedule will tell you that Saban has more than a week to prepare once again. That should give you all you need to know.