#2 Alabama shows plenty of room for improvement in win over Kent State

The Alabama Crimson Tide football team looked great at times in its victory over Kent State. There were also a few issues that presented—mostly with the offensive line. Though the quarterbacks left much to be desired tossing four interceptions between them.

“Offensively, at times we played well, but we had four interceptions, and the ball was on the ground four more times,” Alabama football coach Nick Saban said. “We lost one of those, but turnovers are critical. We’ve got to do a much better job of taking care of the ball. We need more explosive players on offense.”

A.J. McCarron posted the best day at quarterback going 14 of 23 for 225 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Phillip Sims went 7 of 14 for 73 yards and two interceptions, and was sacked twice.

Saban offered his opinion on the interceptions.

“I think there are good interceptions and bad interceptions, and we had a couple of bad ones, and there is a lot to learn from it,” Saban said. “One we should have been throwing the ball hot off the edge, knew that, just didn’t trust it and do it, got hit when we threw it. Those are things that we learn from. And when you play with young players at quarterback, there’s a lot of things that can happen. AJ (McCarron), having a little more poise, having played a little bit more, probably played with a little more poise today, but we have a lot of confidence in Phillip (Sims) and in most cases he plays extremely well. I think he learned a lot out there today and I think he will be a very good player for us here.”

Alabama totaled 183 yards on the ground and five touchdowns. On the ground, Jalston Fowler rushed four times for 69 yards including a 49-yard touchdown run. Eddie Lacy added 8 carries on the ground for 58 yards and a touchdown. Trent Richardson carried the ball 13 times for 37 yards and three touchdowns. Blake Sims carried the ball six times for 16 yards.

Alabama’s defense was the star of the day. And its talent was noticed by the Kent State coaching staff.

“They’re a great defense. Their guards are hard to come by and the defense is excellent on every level, “ said Kent State head football coach Darrell Hazell. “We thought if we could get short-yard gains, that would be good for us, but they stuffed us for negative gains on many occasion. Their corners are excellent so we need to do a better job executing our game plan.”

Alabama football coach Nick Saban also had a few nice things to say about the defense.

“Defensively, I thought we played really well today,” Saban said.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

“We have a lot of room for improvement on defense. We made some mental errors, and didn’t cover some people at times, didn’t make some adjustments and things that we didn’t work on, we weren’t challenged like we’re going to be challenged with the level of skill players and the speed that we’re going to play, so there’s a lot of things we need to do better,” Alabama football coach Nick Saban said.

Saban went on to identify some of the areas of improvement.“We have not played consistently on the line of scrimmage, like we need to against good teams, when we play good teams down the road, not that I don’t have all the respect in the world for Kent State, but even against our own team, sometimes we have not been able to dominate the line of scrimmage like we need to and like we have done in some past years,” Saban said.

Improvement is important with Penn State looming.

“So, we have a lot of things to work on, and I think that everyone on our team needs to know that we’re not going to play the same team next week, that we played last year,” Saban said. “It was really hot when we played here last year, we went no huddle last year and they got tired. I played them for years and Michigan State, they always played better at Penn State than they did at Michigan State. So, they are going to be a better team this year and they are going to play better at their place and we are going to have a huge challenge. I’ll tell you next week how good we are on defense.”

Kent State players noticed cheers from Alabama fans—cheers during warm-ups and when coming on the field. These cheers were in response to Kent State players volunteering in tornado recovery work in Tuscaloosa during the summer.

“We noticed it when we ran out and while warming up,” Kent State quarterback Spencer Keith said. “Like coach said, it was really classy.”