The Crimson Tide Dodges the Bulls
In what was a struggle of a game, the Crimson Tide survived against USF in Tampa Bay 17-3.
The initial excitement around changing quarterbacks did little to boost this Alabama team from its previous loss last week against Texas. Tyler Buchner received the start at quarterback and fans saw quickly that many of the team's woes were not solved with a single personnel change.
Missed blocking assignments and bad throws were evident in the first half. As head coach Nick Saban put it, the team was "a little flat in the beginning." The "flat" start was capitalized when Kool-Aid McKinstry made a critical error on a punt return, giving the ball right back to USF in field goal range. The Bulls capitalized on that error with a field goal, which gave them the lead throughout the entire first half.
The second quarter saw a continuation of play from the first but was interrupted by a nearly hour-long weather delay. In the city that is home to the Lightning, it lived up to its name.
The defense had begun to settle in after returning to the field. With three sacks already tallied in the first quarter, Dallas Turner found the quarterback again, forcing a fumble at the USF 45-yard line that was recovered by freshman James Smith.
Starting with exceptional field position and a lack of production on offense, Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner's time at QB came to an end as Ty Simpson took the reigns. Despite, starting at the 25-yard line the offense still struggled and was unable to find the end zone. Instead, Alabama settled for a 30-yard field goal to finally get on the board and tie the game at 3 in the second quarter.
Ty Simpson remained at the helm for the rest of the game, although offensive struggles continued to plague the team in the second half.
While the offense struggled to get rolling, the defense seemed to return to form following the poor performance from last week against Texas. Dallas Turner and Deontae Lawson were dominant in the pass rush as the two combined for 3.5 sacks in the game. The defensive backs stayed strong as well, holding USF to under 100 yards passing.
The one area the defense struggled in was containing the elusive USF quarterback Byrum Brown. Brown had 23 rushing attempts for 92 yards in the game. While the pass rush was getting through, a combination of poor tackling and the moves of Brown allowed him to gash the defense several times.
Roydell Williams eventually found the end zone at the end of third quarter, giving the Tide its first lead of the night. The rest of the game proved uneventful as neither team was able to score until the very end of the game.
Both sides of the ball showed up to put the final touches on the win. Malachi Moore started the fourth quarter with an interception to gain momentum for the defense. Again, the defense held strong against a driving USF offense as they got two first downs on the drive, but fell short in the end. The offense led a long drive and ultimately found the end zone with 33 seconds left to seal the game.
This game from start to end was not pretty to watch as penalties, missed assignments, and poor offensive line play were consistent throughout. All of the questions that are floating around about this Crimson Tide team are nowhere close to being answered.
The Crimson Tide will head back home to Tuscaloosa, as it will prepare for SEC play and what will be a tough game against Ole Miss next Saturday.