PASADENA, Calif. -- Here's a look at why Alabama has cruised to a commanding 24-6 halftime lead.
Turning point: The game turned on Texas’ fifth play from scrimmage when quarterback Colt McCoy went down with an injury to his right shoulder. McCoy appeared to have been pinned between center Chris Hall and defensive end Marcell Dareus when he went down. He was treated for the injury for several plays before he was taken for further evaluation in the Longhorns’ dressing room. He did not appear for the rest of the first half.
His injury forced freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert into the game for his first action. Gilbert struggled against the tough Alabama offense, directing four straight three-and-out possessions with no offensive gains of more than 6 yards on any offensive play during that span.
Stat of the half: Texas produced 26 yards in five plays with McCoy in charge of the offense, an average of 5.2 yards per snap. After his injury, the Longhorns amassed 65 yards on 35 plays, an average of 1.9 yards per snap.
Best player of the half: Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Crimson Tide. Not only did he knock out Colt McCoy early in the first quarter, but he also provided a huge 28-yard interception return on a botched shovel pass with 3 seconds left to give Alabama a comfortable 24-6 lead at the break.
Best call: Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy took advantage of Texas blitzing on the edge early in the second quarter. Freshman running back Trent Richardson took advantage of the huge seam to run untouched through the middle of the Longhorn defense for a 48-yard touchdown run.
What Texas needs to do: Apparently without McCoy, Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis needs to open his offense up. The Longhorns aren’t going to be able to beat Alabama trying to run the ball between the tackles. They might be able to have more success with misdirection plays that might neutralize Alabama’s defensive speed. But it’s going to be tough. The Alabama defense is in a feeding frenzy after knocking McCoy out and almost knocking out Gilbert.
What Alabama needs to do: The Crimson Tide have the Longhorns on their heels -- especially if McCoy can’t come back in the second half. Constant defensive pressure on Gilbert will likely come in waves, keeping him from getting comfortable in the pocket. It’s not an easy situation for any quarterback, but particularly a freshman with as little experience as Gilbert has.