Alabama Crimson Tide
When the Crimson Tide needed him most, QB AJ McCarron responded with 334 yards and 4 TDs in a road win at Texas A&M. Aside from a season-opener performance against Virginia Tech, McCarron’s play has been efficient and, at times, sensational.
Rest of offense: A-
The line isn’t as good as it has been in years past – which is to be expected when three all-conference players, two of which were all-America go pro. Still, the offensive line is plenty good and showing rapid improvement. RB T.J. Yeldon is on pace to rush for 1,000 yards for a second straight season. Fellow RB Kenyan Drake has been effective when called upon as well. McCarron has done such a good job spreading around his passes that no one receiver stands out.
Remember when Alabama allowed Texas A&M to score 42 points? Well aside from that game, opponents have managed just 26 points in five games, including just 2 TDs. In other words, the defense – which, based on one nationally televised game against one of the nation’s best offenses is down – is as good as ever and ranks second nationally in scoring defense. The Tide also ranks second in rushing defense and pass defense.
How else can someone grade the nation’s top-ranked team? To find flaw in this year’s Alabama team is to compare it to its own standards in seasons past. Half the 2013 season is over and the Crimson Tide is No. 1. And coach Nick Saban finds things about which he can critique his team while it’s on a collision course with Arkansas – and perhaps Oregon.
Offensive Spotlight: WR Amari Cooper
Last year’s breakout star has fallen on hard times in 2013. For the Crimson Tide to be at its best, Cooper needs to be the go-to receiver he proved capable of being as a freshman. So far this season he has just 12 receptions for 164 yards. He has also failed to reach the end zone.
Defensive Spotlight: LB C.J. Mosley
One of the country’s top linebackers lived up to potential through the first half of the season. Mosley leads the team with 48 tackles and has 3.5 TFLs. Alabama’s defense looks inspired after getting embarrassed on national television at Texas A&M and Mosley is the ringleader of that group.