TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- After three weeks of play at either a neutral site, bye week or a visit to Texas A&M’s “Hate Barn,” Alabama finally returns home to face Colorado State on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide can exhale and let loose this week, playing a team that is 1-2 on the season so far - losing to Colorado and Tulsa. Alabama faces former offensive coordinator Greg McElroy and screen-pass aficionado Jim McElwain, who enters his second season with the Rams. McElwain won two national titles at Alabama, so, out of respect, Nick Saban probably won’t run up the score too badly, even though the Crimson Tide are a 40-point favorite.
Before the game kicks off at 6 p.m. CT, here are two keys for Alabama.
Avoid injuries, at all cost
In a walkover game like this, keeping players healthy is the most important thing. Alabama needs to score some points, get a decent lead and let the freshmen and backups get some playing time. AJ McCarron, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week and Maxwell Award National Player of the Week, and the offense clearly sorted out any problems they had against Virginia Tech last week in College Station last week. Now the offense needs to put up big numbers early, and let the new recruits show their mettle.
Fix any lingering issues
Against an opponent like CSU, Alabama has the opportunity to sort out any remaining issues on offense and defense before the bulk of their Southeastern Conference schedule starts next week when they host Ole Miss. If the cornerbacks or safeties need some work, going up against Garrett Grayson and the Rams will be good practice. They aren’t facing a defending Heisman Trophy winner or football magician like they were last week, so Alabama needs to stay focused and play up to its ability. The Crimson Tide has a pattern of playing down to their competition, but for their home opener in Week 4, Saban should have his team ready to go.
Plus, thunderstorms are predicted on Saturday, meaning Alabama has been able to have wet ball practices this week, having the luxury of preparing for inclement weather against a team that plays in the Mountain West and went 4-8 last year, under McElwain.
The Crimson Tide can work out any kinks with their team against Colorado State, instead of trying to fix issues against Ole Miss or LSU.