Everyone knows how big the Iron Bowl game is for the state of Alabama. Most recently, Alabama was able to prevail against its rivals, the Auburn Tigers. However, it was only a season ago that the Tide beat the Tigers in overtime.
It is crucial that the Tide is well prepared and able to react to adversity. Even though the Tigers only have five wins to their name, the team still has a chance of reaching a bowl game with a win. Interim head coach Carnell Williams is putting his players on a high level, and The Tide needs to have an answer for that at this year’s Iron Bowl at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
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Roll Tide Wire takes a look at some of the problem areas feeding into this weekend’s Iron Bowl.
Limit the fast attack of the tigers
Auburn hasn’t had much success in the air this season. However, the team has two proven running backs (Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter) and a double threat quarterback (Robby Ashford). In the past, Tide’s defense has struggled to stop offenses like Ole Miss and Texas. Each of these programs has been able to create a successful game plan on the ground. The Tigers have done that this season, averaging 195.6 rushing yards per game.
Offensive play calling
Last season, Alabama struggled to pick up points against Auburn on the Plains. This season has to be different as offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has been fickle as a play-caller. Not to mention the rumors that have surfaced surrounding his name in regards to the head coach opening at Georgia Tech. O’Brien needs to play his “A” game for the Tide to succeed on the offensive side of the ball.
This concern does not specifically apply to Will Reichard. Instead, it’s more focused on the mistakes the tide has seen in the punt team this season. More specifically, the punt return unit. In the past, Iron Bowls were exclusively determined by special teams. In this game, Alabama doesn’t have to put the game in the hands of the specialists or the special teams.
Push the ball vertically across the field
One department where the tide hasn’t been as effective is her vertical pass attack. There’s certainly no shortage of talent in the wide receiver room. However, there were numerous instances where Bryce Young was unable to throw the ball across the field because the receivers could not create a breakup. As a result, the tide has become predictable in various situations. In the past, with players like Amari Cooper, Julio Jones and Jameson Williams, The Tide has always had someone front and center in defence. That seems to be missing from this year’s wide receivers. Someone has to board on Saturday.
Take off from the field on third downs
One thing the Tide defense needs to prioritize is getting off the field in third down situations, especially in third and long situations. This Auburn team is struggling to push the ball down the field with chunk plays, so Alabama’s defense needs to limit chunk plays. In the past, teams like LSU and Texas moved the ball with ease in the passing game. That cannot be the case with Auburn.