‘UN’-Special Teams: Alabama falls with failures in kicking game

The story of the LSU win over Alabama turns on fundamentals. It is a tired cliché that execution wins games.

It is a cliché for a reason.

It is right.

LSU was sound in the kicking game.

Alabama was not.

LSU was sound in strategic decision-making.

Alabama was not.

For a coach that likes to look at quality control, there are a few quality issues that deserve a closer look for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team.

Alabama’s Nick Saban has made errors the last two seasons involving injured players being put into the game at inopportune times. Last season, the coaches failed to notice an injured Mark Barron, and this was exploited. In this game, an injured Marquis Maze was placed in as a punt returner, and was not able to adjust to a punted ball that went over his head and flipped field position. Players never tell anyone they are injured, but this puts a premium on coaches being able to tell when players cannot perform optimally.

The coaches noticed the Maze situation following the punt issue, but the damage was done in this game. UPDATE: According to the Daily Bama Blog, Maze said the ball struck the overhead camera wire and caused the ball’s trajectory to change.

In a game with such enormous consequences, you want your best players on the field. However, best players sometimes are able to play through injuries. It is a tough call that benefits with the clarity of hindsight. Some of this can be excused because of the fog of war.

What is glaring to everyone is Alabama’s problem in special teams.

This is a persistent problem—everyone remembers the nightmare special teams play in the 2009 BCS title game against Texas. Alabama won that game.

It could not beat LSU by leaving points on the field, and losing the field position battle.

What is more damning is that an LSU team without a quarterback won this game because it compensated and exploited Alabama’s fundamental flaw.

LSU executed in all three phases. Alabama didn’t.

There will be talk of a rematch.

However, why would anyone think the outcome would be different?

Has Alabama done anything to illustrate it will improve its special teams play?

Until then, there is no need for a rematch. We already know the outcome.