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Alabama handles Colorado State

Published 2:08pm Monday, September 23, 2013

Injury-plagued Tide deals with youth, inexperience

Joy Harris
Special to the Enquirer

TUSCALOOSA- The University of Alabama played a less than impressive game against Colorado State University Saturday after a close game against Texas A&M last weekend.

From Bama’s failed field goal attempt on their first drive to AJ McCarron’s intercepted pass early in the third quarter, Alabama did not look like a team with three recent national titles. Some might attribute their less than impressive performance to the abundance of youth on the field due to injured players or an overall lack of communication.

Despite the problems, the Crimson Tide (3-0) came away with a 31-6 win over the Rams (1-3).

Head coach Nick Saban addressed the absences of Amari Cooper, Anthony Steen, Nick Perry and Jarrick Williams in the post-game conference.

“We had at least a half-dozen guys out of the game tonight,” Saban said. “[Steen] had a headache during pregame and we just felt like we weren’t going to take a chance on playing him. Cooper’s toe was bothering him, so we just said we’re not going to push and we’re not going to take a chance. Perry hurt his shoulder in practice. Jarrick Williams got poked in the eye in the last game. It actually bled and he lost vision. He was not cleared to play or practice.”

These injuries, especially on defense, gave more players time on the field.

“We had to adjust to younger guys shuffling in and out,” said linebacker C.J. Mosley. “Some of the younger guys aren’t used to adjusting and getting the calls right. This gives them a lot of experience, so hopefully they’ll build off this momentum. We had some execution problems, but it’s the little things that get you beat. That win wasn’t what it should have been. Some of those little things will get us beat in the SEC.”

McCarron, who finished 20 of 26 with a touchdown and one interception, summed up the offensive troubles as a lack of communication that needs to be fixed before next week.

“There was a lack of communication on the whole offense,” McCarron said. “There was a lack of energy. Ole Miss will be a challenge.”

The win showcased new talent and continued Alabama’s scoring streak. Saturday marked the 159th consecutive game without a shutout, the longest run in the university’s history.

Sophomore linebacker Dillon Lee scored his first career touchdown off a blocked punt at the beginning of the second quarter. Kenyan Drake, who scored Alabama’s first touchdown on a three-yard run, was credited with the block. This score gave Saban his 33rd non-offensive touchdown at UA.

Cade Foster also tacked on a 46-yard field goal.

“[Scores from our special teams] played a huge part in a game like today when it’s hard to score,” Saban said. “We have good key players on special teams, and we need to be sure to take advantage of that.”

All that Colorado State could muster was a pair of field goals from Jared Roberts in the third quarter.

Alabama’s offense put the game away in the fourth quarter with a pair of touchdown passes.

McCarron hit DeAndrew White for a 30-yard score early in the quarter.

Backup quarterback Blake Sims threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Chris Black with 1:13 to play in the game.

Next week is sure to prove more difficult as Alabama takes on Ole Miss. Many of the small mistakes made in Saturday’s game will be more detrimental against another SEC opponent.

“We plan on approaching next week like any other game,” said wide receiver Christion Jones. “[This game] was alright, but we have a long way to go offensively. We had a couple miscues, but we are going to go in and correct them Sunday and Monday.”

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