It is difficult to determine the worth of a major FBS program by playing an FCS opponent. If the game is too easy, then the question comes up as to why the game was even scheduled. If the major team loses to the FCS team, then it’s an embarrassment to the program for years to come. This was the case in 2007 with a 34-32 Appalachian State win over fifth-ranked Michigan. With the way the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0) are playing, people are demanding the Tide crush their opponents by 50 points, no matter who they are playing.
The Bulldogs gave the Tide their best game of the year and had some systematics had matched well with the Tide. The triple-option offense is always a difficult scheme to outpace as it kills so much time off the clock. The Tide was not given many chances in the first half and The Citadel ran the ball decently and kill much time off the clock. Many Alabama critics were foaming at the mouth with joy as they looked at their phone and computer screens at the score early without actually watching the game. Once the Tide got in sync, it didn’t take long to put the Bulldogs back out of this game. The Tide defeat The Citadel and the triple-option offense 50-17.
The First Half – The Citadel eats up the clock
This was an interesting game for the Tide as they played all of their starters to shake off the rust from last week’s Mississippi State win. Despite the training for the Bulldogs triple-option offense, the Tide defense didn’t find a lot of room to improve. The Bulldogs offensive line was consistently cut blocking the Tide’s defensive line, preventing penetration in the backfield. This is why the Bulldogs were able to account for an average of 4.6 yards per rush. The continuation of drives in a controlled manner gave the Bulldogs a 2:1 ratio for time of possession in the first half. Once the Tide got comfortable taking the running game up the middle, the Bulldogs made great pitches to the outside. One of those smart pitches from quarterback Brandon Rainey was for a 45-yard touchdown run from Dante Smith.
The Tide’s offense couldn’t afford room for errors after The Citadel took so much time off the clock. After a touchdown from Heisman candidate Tua Tagovailoa to receiver Jaylen Waddle, the Tide turned the ball over on their next possession. Alabama sought to add more points despite the lack of possession time but the fumble from Jerry Jeudy lit a fire for the Bulldogs. Alabama experienced problems early in the run game. This forced Tagovailoa to act as the main contributor once again for the Tide offense. The Tide ended the first half with 10 points while having the ball for only 10 minutes and 46 seconds.
The Second Half – Alabama picks up steam
After Alabama’s fumble from tight end Miller Forristall, the Bulldogs missed a 45-yard field goal. This ruined The Citadel’s chance to get a lead over the top ranked team in the nation in the second half. Once Alabama got the ball in the second half, they scored quickly and efficiently. After another touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Waddle, linebacker Anfernee Jennings returned an 18-yard fumble for a touchdown. The Tide went from a tied game to a 24-10 lead in an instant. Every single time the Crimson Tide got the ball in the second half they scored a touchdown. Alabama finished the game with 561 total yards and allowed 275 with all of them from the triple-option run game.
Once again, Tagovailoa didn’t need to play in the fourth quarter. He was 18-for-22 passing for 340 yards with three touchdowns and averaged 15.5 yards per pass. He also rushed for another touchdown. The Tide offensive line didn’t allow a single sack and only allowed two tackles for loss and one quarterback hurry (QBH). Freshmen Waddle accounted for six receptions for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Jennings accounted for 11 total tackles, a tackle for loss, and the 18-yard fumble return for the touchdown. His linebacker mate Mack Wilson accounted for nine total tackles, six solo. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams accounted for six total tackles, five solo, with one sack and one tackle for loss. Overall, the Tide defense accounted for five tackles for loss and one sack whenever the Bulldogs attempted a pass.
Moving to Iron Bowl matchup
Despite that the fact that this game was a headache, the Tide ultimately needed the experience to tune up their problems. Alabama needed a real game experience to fix the problems occurred during last week’s win against Mississippi State. Tagovailoa’s knee was not in the best shape last week and playing without the knee brace was significant. The offensive line needed to improve their game as well. The injuries to guard Alex Leatherwood (ankle), safety Deionte Thompson (knee), and running back Damien Harris (concussion) are considered minor. The Tide needs to be their best next week against the Auburn Tigers.
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