Consistency was the cornerstone of Alabama’s success last season en route to the Crimson Tide’s first national championship in 17 years.
A lack of consistency was the Crimson Tide’s undoing this season, as they struggled to put four quarters of football together. That was the agonizing thing about this team for Nick Saban. Alabama would play up to its talent level in stretches and look like the best team in America. Then at other times, the Crimson Tide would suffer through lapses similar to what we saw in the second half against Auburn.
Alabama (9-3) was good on defense this season, but nothing like the national championship season when the Crimson Tide took over games with their defense. The inexperience in the secondary was a problem, leading to breakdowns and missed assignments that led to several easy touchdowns by the opposition.
The Crimson Tide gave up far too many big plays in the passing game this season to be considered a great defense.
The disappointing thing for them on offense is that their running game stalled. Mark Ingram missed the first two games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, and Trent Richardson also had some issues with his knee later in the season.
Both had their moments, but the running game wasn’t nearly as effective as it was a year ago. Some of that’s on the offensive line, too. The Crimson Tide didn’t play as well up front, either.
Offensive MVP: Receiver Julio Jones. The league was full of great receivers this season, but Jones put together a fabulous year. He broke Alabama school records for receptions (75) and receiving yards (1,084) in a season and did so after having surgery to repair a broken bone in his hand midway through the year.
Defensive MVP: Safety Mark Barron. A torn pectoral muscle in the Auburn game will keep him from playing in the bowl game, but Barron was the guy who held this defense together this season. He led the team with 75 total tackles and also had three interceptions.
Turning point: The invincibility was gone following the 35-21 loss to South Carolina. Alabama had won 19 straight games going into Columbia, and that included a beatdown of Florida the week before. But the Crimson Tide were exposed against the Gamecocks, which was the first of three losses for Alabama in its last six SEC games.
What’s next: Up first is a Capital One Bowl date with Michigan State. The Crimson Tide can make it three straight seasons that they’ve won at least 10 games. On down the road, there could be a mass exodus of juniors leaving. Marcell Dareus, Ingram and Jones are all expected to declare early for the NFL draft.