TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama was not its usual self in a 31-6 win over Colorado State on Saturday.
The home opener had all the fanfare of a big game, but the heavily favored Crimson Tide used this week like a glorified bye week. The offense struggled, key players were injured, new ones received playing time and starting positions for the first time and there was a clear emotional letdown after the sensory overload of Alabama’s visit to Texas A&M.
“I felt like as a whole, we didn't really execute to the maximum of our abilities,” Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “That's not an SEC opponent that we just played and the win really wasn't what it should have been. I felt like we kind of got away with a win. We didn't dominate that win.”
While the win was seen as a disappointment to many fans and some players, Alabama head coach Nick Saban was more positive about the win than expected.
“This team has responded to whatever negative circumstance they have had to face,” Saban said. “We might be able to go dictate with our intensity, sense of urgency, preparation, everything we have to do to be more dominant and more consistent in a game. I don't think we did that tonight, and that was our goal going into the game.”
After correcting most of its issues on offense against A&M, Alabama’s offense again lacked continuity and energy, accounting for only 66 yards rushing and a touchdown from Kenyan Drake on fourth and 1, and one passing touchdown from AJ McCarron. McCarron attributed these struggles to a lack of communication.
“We didn't do a great job communicating,” McCarron said in a terse postgame press conference. When asked a follow-up question concerning what contributed to their lack of communication, McCarron replied, “Communication, we didn't do it.”
The communication breakdown may been a temporary lapse in preparation or execution, but it could also have been affected by absent injured players. Alabama played without wide receivers Amari Cooper and Kevin Norwood, as well as starting offensive lineman Anthony Steen. The Crimson Tide were also without defensive backs Deion Belue, Jarrick Williams and Nick Perry, and cycled players in and out to try and solidify the position.
“We played about five guys at cornerback and just kind of rotated them in there with the idea of we're going to see if somebody can play the position with any kind of consistency, do their assignment, and do their job,” Saban said. “That's an area we need to get better at. It would sure be helpful if we can get Deion [Belue] back.”
Mosley said that it is just a matter of better executing the game plan.
“We just gotta get better. It’s just the way we execute,” said Mosley. “Playing SEC football, some of the little things that we messed up today would get us beat next week and the weeks to come.”
Saban was complimentary towards Colorado State, as he is with any opponent, but he spoke less highly of his own team.
“I'm not satisfied with where we are as a team,” said Saban. “We need to continue to focus on improvement and do a better job as a football team if we're going to be the kind of team we are capable of being.”
Whatever the reason for the sleepwalking performance on Saturday, Alabama has to get everything back under control when Ole Miss comes to Tuscaloosa on Sept. 28.