ITKFor the fifth time in the Nick Saban era at Alabama, the Crimson Tide took its show on the road…or more accurately, to a neutral site…to begin the 2014 season. Like all the others, Bama walked away from a dome with the win to begin the new season, leaving behind a few unknowns heading into 2014.

The final score was 33-23, but how did the Tide really do? We’re glad you asked.

Blake-SimsThe biggest question heading into the game was at quarterback. Most thought 5th year senior Blake Sims and newcomer Jacob Coker would split reps throughout the game. That didn’t prove to be the case. Sims got the start and got a definite start on winning the job for the year.

Sims wasn’t perfect, but he was good. 24 for 33 for 250 yards good. Those numbers included a few miscues, including an interception. But overall, in a game where the Tide had two different 100-yard rushers, the coaching staff trusted Sims to sling it 34 times. Hence, he wasn’t throwing because Bama had to (to catch up), but because it was part of the plan. Factor in a sure touchdown that was dropped by the normally sure-handed Christion Jones, and his day would’ve been an eyelash from 300 yards passing on the day. Not a bad day for a first start.

The game was the first time the Tide had broken in a new quarterback in three seasons. The last one? AJ McCarron against a much weaker Kent State inside the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Compare Sims’ numbers against McCarron’s 14 for 23 day (226 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT), and you have to say Sims passed the test. Room for improvement? Of course. But his performance was everything we had heard he had been displaying in practice. Thank goodness.

I still think we’ll see Coker soon, but either way 2014 is in capable hands with #6.

KiffinLane Kiffin. He’s here, and he’s in charge of the Tide offense. Over the summer Bama installed its own version of a no huddle attack. The result in week one was a significant edge in time of possession…a must against the HUNH…and a balanced attack (288 yards rushing, 250 yards passing).

Kiffin is the proud owner of well-earned criticism over some immature moves in his young career. But the guy is a good coach, with a chance to learn under the best until he gets his next opportunity.

As mentioned, his quarterback threw for 250 yards, not a bad outing in any game. But he also had two different 100+ yard rushers in T.J. Yeldon (132 yards on 23 carries, 2 TD’s) and Derrick Henry (113 yards on 17 carries, 1 TD). And as mentioned, Sims wasn’t slinging it because he had to. The Tide’s offensive line was doing its job, creating holes for the Tide running backs, meaning the 34 attempts were part of a plan. A plan executed well enough to get a young team out of the starting blocks and on its way.

kickingOne of the biggest needs for improvement heading into 2014 from 2013 was the Tide’s kicking game. I don’t have to remind you of what I’m talking about.

Adam Griffith was outstanding, going 4 for 4, with three of those beyond 40-yards. Not to mention, actually kicking the ball into the endzone on kick-offs. That alone is reason for a hallelujah.

But JK Scott…good grief. His first punt was a 62-yard rain maker. Scott finished with a 50-yard average on the day. Incredible numbers from the freshman Nick Saban called “a weapon” this summer. Former punter Cody Mandell was outstanding, but his absence isn’t yet being felt, and may not be until Scott is done in 2018.

Okay, there was the West Virginia kick-off return. I’m not talking about special teams as a whole here. I’m just talking about the two guys getting their school paid for to kick footballs when the pressure is on, and so far I like what I’m seeing.

defenseNext, I’ll grade defense as a whole. This is a tough one. On one hand, the Mountaineers moved the ball through the air seemingly at will. Trickett’s 365 yards through the air can’t become a trend. But factor in that he could only lead his team into paydirt one time, and the picture begins getting clearer.

You can win all kinds of football games yielding just one touchdown to the opposing team’s offense, especially a HUNH team. HUNH proponents love to say Nick Saban’s weakness is this cheap brand of football. That’s like saying gnats are the weakness of a UFC Champion. The HUNH is designed to level the playing field for teams that don’t want to (or can’t) win playing man football.

So far the only teams able to top Saban with this dipsy-doo, trickeroo bullcrap is Auburn (twice), Texas A&M (once) and Oklahoma (once). That’s four losses in 8 years at Alabama to HUNH teams, and only the Sooners didn’t have to depend on out-of-body, freakish, planet-aligning occurances for it to happen. With those numbers, you have to be pretty desperate to award yourself hope that the HUNH is Saban’s weakness. By saying that, what you’re really saying is Saban’s Bama can’t totally dominate some HUNH teams, ala Notre Dame 2012. What the HUNH does is give you an improved chance. However, it hardly gives you insurance of any kind. But, I digress…

Against West Virginia, the Tide defense recorded 3 sacks with its defensive line alone…unheard of in the last couple of years in Tuscaloosa. Unless it happened when I was in the restroom, I don’t remember seeing Bama blitz against West Virginia.

Now, pass coverage from one particular cornerback needs to improve, and I mean quickly. But #3 was on the field as much as he was because #4 is still recovering from knee surgery. Safety play has to get better as well. But Landon Collins will flat out kill you. If the defense begins taking on his identity, and that of A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed, this defense could get nasty by the time SEC play gets underway.

Trickett's-hairI have to include Clint Trickett’s hair in this week’s grade. The West Virginia quarterback was obsessed with removing his helmet as fast as he could when leaving the field. Dude would rip that lid off quick as a cat so we could all see his Pat Riley. Trickett had a good day, but whatever hair product he uses to keep his hair perfect inside a football helmet begs for product endorsement as soon the NCAA gives him the green light.

All kidding aside, I thought at one time it was a penalty if you took your helmet off on the field. Goodness knows CBS’s Gary Danielson tried to make it an issue after Mt. Cody’s 2nd block of a 2009 Tennessee field goal attempt. It must not be anymore, because if Georgia Power could somehow devise a way to generate power from Trickett ripping his own helmet off, there would’ve easily been enough juice to light the Georgia Dome alone.

WVFinally, West Virginia as a whole. As mentioned, the HUNH is designed to keep weaker opponents in games longer, and it did its job against Alabama. For the next two weeks the Mountaineers get to lick their wounds against the likes of Towson and Maryland. The true test will come September 20 when the Sooners come calling. Oklahoma doesn’t lose that game, but how close West Virginia keeps it will tell us a lot about this team.


(Follow ITK on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)

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35 Responses to “West Virginia Game Report Card: Sims, kickers and Clint Trickett’s hair” Subscribe

  1. Hunter Ford September 1, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Did those Mountaineers have whole possums on their heads????? They could have been in SEC!!! Worse than Tennessee !!!!! Really? That was nasty a whole animal sitting on your head Where is PETA when you need them??????

  2. finebammer September 1, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    running the two minute drill offense to try and outscore opponents is gonna bite our defense in the ass eventually.

    long, sustained drives are the BEST defense against the HUNH. period.

    the teams that keep kenny “football” and nick marshall on the sidelines longest are the teams that will beat them.

  3. Hunter Ford September 1, 2014 at 1:34 am #

    Butt those Mountaineers had half gutted animals on their heads!!!! Not a bad first test…beating some insane hillbilly Dueling Banjo Crazy MFers

  4. peachy September 1, 2014 at 7:39 am #

    Pretty poor performance for what is supposed to be the #2 team. But hey, the season isn’t won in the first week.

    • bamabino September 1, 2014 at 9:05 am #

      We can always count on peachfuzz for mindless trolling. Blake Sims just set the Alabama record for a 1st time starting QB with most completions(24) and pass attempts(33). His 250 yards rank him 3rd all-time. If Christion Jones doesn’t drop the long one, he has the yardage record too.Nothing poor about that.

      • peachy September 1, 2014 at 9:21 am #

        Isnt he a 5th year senior? Its not like he’s some true freshman coming off his first highschool game.

        And this was a WV team that was 108th in passing defense last year. Their passing defense was worse than Auburns.

        Fact is Alabama didn’t look like a #2 team, especially considering the competition. 10 point win for a 24+point favorite? Alabama fans better be glad they start off with such a horribly weak schedule.

        TAMU and Auburn are going to wear that defense out.

        • RC September 1, 2014 at 9:37 am #

          Because why exactly?? Like the UA defense won’t improve throughout the season? Why is everyone on A&M’$ bandwagon? South Carolina is a bad team, AND so is Arkansas!!!

          • peachy September 1, 2014 at 10:02 am #

            Arkansas is an improved team and you could see it. They’re not going to compete for the West but going from 3-9 to 6-6 would be a major improvement. And Auburn didn’t look great in the first half. Of course they didn’t have their starting QB in either. Once Marshall came in it opened the running game up (though Johnson played very well in the first half) and the second half defense was outstanding allowing 51 yards and ZERO points. Auburn was a 21 point favorite and won by 24; so they actually performed better than expected.

          • ITK September 1, 2014 at 11:48 am #

            I love it when you invent reality in order to support a weak argument.

            Maybe if for our first game we could have scheduled an SEC team who went 0-fer in the conference last season inside the friendly confines of our own stadium we could be beating our chest (and other things) like you are today.

          • peachy September 1, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

            That’s right. You scheduled a powerhouse that went 4-8 with blowout losses to Iowa St and Kansas

          • ITK September 1, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

            @peachy

            This game was scheduled in the spring of 2012 when West Virginia was fresh off of blowing out Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl. We can’t help it if other programs like West Virginia and Auburn can’t sustain success.

            While Bama rolls the dice and schedules name opponents in neutral sites, Auburn wades into the season in the warm, fuzzy confines of Jerkin-Hair Stadium.

            Here is a comparison of our recent first games:

            2008
            ALABAMA vs. #9 Clemson – Atlanta
            Auburn vs. La.Monroe – AUBURN

            2009
            Alabama vs. #7 Va.Tech – Atlanta
            Auburn vs. La.Tech – AUBURN

            2010
            Alabama vs. San Jose State – Tuscaloosa
            Auburn vs. Arky State – AUBURN

            2011
            Alabama vs. Kent State – Tuscaloosa
            Auburn vs. Utah State – AUBURN

            2012
            Alabama vs. #8 Michigan – Dallas
            Auburn vs. #14 Clemson – Atlanta – LOST

            2013
            Alabama vs. Va.Tech – Atlanta
            Auburn vs. WSU – Auburn

            2014
            Alabama vs. West Virginia – Atlanta
            Auburn vs. Arkansas – Auburn

            So EVERY YEAR Auburn waddles out into their own pasture to start their season, while the Tide packs up, mans up, and meets a marquee opponent on a neutral site to tangle.

            OH YEAH, and we’ve won them ALL, while Auburn tangles with Southwest Sunday School Secretary State in their own pasture.

            Y’all are a bunch of wussies down there.

          • peachy September 1, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

            I guess you forget we play @Kansas St this year and played @Clemson just 3 years ago. How many road OOC games has Alabama played lately?

          • ITK September 1, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

            @peachy

            I know it’s hard for you, but stay on topic. We’re talking about FIRST GAMES of the season. Not game 3 or 4, when you’ve had time to get your feet wet.

            Man up, wussy.

        • ITK September 1, 2014 at 11:45 am #

          FSU didn’t look like the #1 team either. No one looked good.

          Unless you were playing a bottem tier SEC team, at home…one that hasn’t won a conference game since 2012.

          Or unless you locked your opponent’s coaches in the elevator at halftime.

    • ITK September 1, 2014 at 11:43 am #

      When we won our first of three national championships in the Nick Saban era at Alabama, I felt the same way after our first game with Virginia Tech.

      For once I agree with you peachy. It’s just week one.

  5. finebammer September 1, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    “Auburn was a 21 point favorite and won by 24; so they actually performed better than expected.”

    if you think the vegas line has anything to do with an expectation of your team’s performance, you are an unmitigated dumbass.

  6. Fat_Dye September 1, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    It’s funny how everyone thinks the sky is falling in Tuscaloosa . If not that they are hoping for it . It’s growing pains . We are gonna be fine . Us tide fans are spoiled and it hurts to think we will lose a game but it happens . All in all I am very proud of the success the Tide has had and will have in the future . We will be ok . It’s a good thing we have a few games to get things straightened out . I am sure West Virginia practiced hard all summer for this match up . It’s only the first game . I’m anxiously waiting to hear the Conduits take on all of this . ROLL TIDE !!!

    • nope September 2, 2014 at 7:56 am #

      @Fat—–I’ve got a draft in the works, waiting to hear back, hopefully tonight. But I was at the game and watched it twice since; the concerns are addressable (mostly fundamental mistakes), the HUNH is not the deathstroke, and West Virginia was sincerely impressive.

    • ITK September 2, 2014 at 8:58 am #

      @Fat_Dye

      The truth is, Alabama football is held to a higher standard than any other program in the land. Auburn beat a hapless SEC bottom dweller that West Virginia would’ve run…an Arkansas team that hasn’t won an SEC game since Obama’s first term in office. And yet the feeling is their on their way. Hogwash, so to speak. AU still loses 3-4 games this season. Bank it.

      And yet, Bama beats ANOTHER HUNH team, yielding just one TD, scoring three of their own while OWNING time of possession, being dominant in the kicking game (good grief did you see our kicker and punter??), but because it wasn’t perfect “there’s trouble in Tuscaloosa.”

      It’s unfair reporting, but hey, when you’re the best, that’s what you get. And you’ll never see that of Auburn because they are never the best.

  7. crimson hammah September 1, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    blake sims 6 0 running qb ….just 4 5 passes over 15 yrs 1 comp…turrible …missed rec on 3rd down…no room for that in a shootout….typical run qb no confidence in passing qb everybody is always covered always has to scramble…bs true passer throw receivers open,,,wasting talent with a roll out qb-

  8. crimson hammah September 1, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    BARN 21 21 WITH SEC 0 FER…AT HALF…LOCKS OUT ARK ASSTS AND STEALS SIGNALS IN 2ND HALF…AND STADIUM CLOCK DOES NOT WORK IN THE FIRST – HOW FREAKING BUSH LEAGUE LIKE BEAR SAID THE COW COLLEGE NOT SERIOUS ABOUT FOOTBALL

    • ITK September 2, 2014 at 8:54 am #

      Auburn is the poster child for “Bush League”

    • peachy September 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

      That post is just full of stupid. Not surprising though. But it is hilarious that Alabama fans are already making excuses for Auburn wins.

      • ITK September 2, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

        Looks like somebody’s touchy and/or doesn’t know the difference between an excuse and pointing out that an AU opponent hasn’t won a league game in two seasons.

  9. Fat_Dye September 2, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    @itk , can’t wait to see the defense with Depriest in game . Maybe that had something to do with the mistakes . We played soft all night . And it is what it is Bama football is at a high standard . What do you think the situation with Coker is ? Sims did great and has really developed since the spring game .

  10. crimson hammah September 2, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    sims did not do great by bama standards – he is not an alabama style qb

  11. crimson hammah September 2, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    i will never know how the skanky barn became the great white hope…

    • nathan gonzalez September 2, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

      Well first off I love how these Alabama fans call us crazy mfers while you continue to hunt gators and your state has a higher incest cases than any other in the country… And secondly I question this authors sports intelligence slightly due to the fact Maryland is always a threat when it comes down to it. A median prestigious school with an average coach that leaves an opportunity for upsets at any moment. Third, after West Virginia’s performance against Alabama, which Bama had the football 30+ minutes and had only 1 turnover yet WVU stuck with them the entire game, I dont understand how you are so sure Oklahoma would beat them. West Virginia made multiple big plays against the top SEC School traditionally without starting corner Iggy Banks (Still keeping in mind Bama was missing ILB), has multiple high caliber Athletes such as Karl Joseph, Quinton Spain, Shaq Riddick, Kevin White, Clint Trickett, not to mention the fact we only lost to OU by 9 last year with injuries and a team not nearly experienced. I challenge you author that WVU not only makes that a close game but has a 9-3 season and two thirds of whatever predictions you make, that aren’t already blatent, fail simply because of your point of view towards the game. You more worried about Clint Tricketts helmet coming off than his multiple thrown balls that were dropped that could’ve have led to Bamas upset. Alabama did not win that game, But West Virginia lost. And I believe they surprise the country this year and return to there mark of the team that previously went to a bowl game every year since 2001 before last season.

      • ITK September 2, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

        @nathan gonzalez

        First and foremost, I agree with you. I believe West Virginia is in for a good year. Being a Bama alum and fan I’ve seen a lot of good football in my day, witnessing seven National Championship with my own two eyes. The Mountaineers are a good football team.

        Secondly, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if WVU beat the Sooners. I’ve seen the Sooners and the Mountaineers, basically in back-to-back games with Alabama. I’d still put Oklahoma ahead of WVU, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if an upset occurred.

        Lastly, lose the hyperbole about incest. Your state is the poster child for the movie Deliverance (literally) for a reason. Quoting “incest rates” you can’t back up just discredits anything you say after that point. You made a lot of good points, but I have to deduct points due to this. For that you get a B- (would’ve been an A).

      • nope September 3, 2014 at 7:33 am #

        @nathan gonzalez

        I think you misinterpreted some of the information here, and the author clarified it.

        I’ll agree with ITK on that part—-WVU was impressive. For all the questions against Alabama, I haven’t heard anyone give WVU enough credit. That’s not to say they’re elite, but the rest of the nation overlooking WVU might be to your advantage.

        I struggled with WVU’s culture. I couldn’t figure it out. For one, every big play WVU had, the WVU fan in front of me would just turn around and stare, like I didn’t think they could do it, or like he was trying to prove something to me? He missed a lot of replay, I never dogged WVU, and it was just…weird. The girl four seats down wouldn’t leave my father alone every time the WVU band came on the field. It’s like they were looking for a medal, like nobody gave them a chance, but that nobody wasn’t truthfully most Alabama fans. I frankly never understood the 28-point spread, particularly in a season opener, but I also never thought it was accurate and nobody here ever wrote it was either.

        I don’t understand the “wiggly fingers” on first down (sorry, but what is that?), but WVU fans were passionate throughout, even after the clock had run out. They were louder and more engaged than VT last year in the same dome, that’s a guarantee.

        Bottom line, WVU was impressive and even with the disparity of time of possession, their defense never looked outright tired and winded, which is often Alabama’s bread and butter over the course of a football game. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they do to the BIG12 what TAMU and Mizzou did to the SEC when they joined the league. WVU will upset somebody in the conference this year, especially if they stay healthy, and even the Sooners should be concerned. It sounds like they aren’t concerned, but they should be.

  12. crimson hammah September 2, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    nate u r totally delusional – alabama whupped your azz…we scored on every possession the fgs were when we came up short by inches…saban did not want to run up score on his home state,…we stayed vanilla in our rush schemes as to save these schemes but everytime we unleased it we abused you….4 3 3 and out out out to close out the game

    • nathan gonzalez September 3, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

      @crimson so your really going to say Saban chose to not embarrass his home state? That alone gives me enough reason to realize I have no need to explain to you how football is played. You just simply wouldn’t understand.

      @nope wiggling your fingers is sign language for clapping. West Virginia has had multiple high school athletes that were deaf in the football system, one named Corey Wagnor who rushed for over 2500 yds in 12 games(AAA). It was a respect to student athletes. Eventually the students used it and added on to it to create a tradition that would also allow those handicapped the ability to understand we were all cheering, and it created a unique and diverse to include those students and athletes.

      @ITK as I said this article as well as many others continue to discredit the Alabama faithful.rather than give West Virginia the credit it has truly earned. We have beat Georiga GT destroyed Clemson, had rivalries with VT Miami and Syracuse, at one point had one of the longest unprotected rivalries in college history whit Pittsburgh that should obviously be protected and brought back, yet only fans who actually understand stats and pay attention realize they are a decent team. West Virginia is perhaps the most written off school in the NCAA. Have we won a National Championship, no we have not, but have had multiple teams capable of it, most recently in the Slaton/White era where Pat White became the first ever QB in NCAA history to win 4 consecutive bowl games. Its astonishing to see how much WVU has done that is just quite simply over looked. Our School has provided more than enough evidence to prove we are a capable team. 26 pt spread? 26 pt spread!? One more time a 26 point spread and we lost the game on simple mistakes by 10. So say as you all will, our fan base is routy, were loud as hell, and its because were pissed all of these SEC teams and ACC teams stick in their division every year and play nobody but each other and stay at the top of the line up while we play Alabama Oklahoma Maryland Texas Baylor Auburn LSU Clemson VT stun every one of them, beat most those I just listed and still barely crack the top 25 with a 2 loss season while an 8-4 Florida is ranked 25th. Maybe we aren’t the very best, but we dont protect our dignity but scheduling the easiest non conference games we can find. At least when we do lose, we do it every ounce of sweat and blood drained from our body cuz we didn’t take the easy road to a 12-0 record.

      • The Conduit September 3, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

        Yeah, the West Virginia fans were belting out the “eat shlt Pitt” throughout the game. It was just weird. But the fans were fun, albeit they were filthy-mouthed worse than I had seen since LSU, and the football was great.

        You want underrated?

        That would be the West Virginia band. I couldn’t have asked for more to start a college football season.

      • Fat_Dye September 4, 2014 at 6:16 am #

        The team was well prepared for Bama and we are lucky we came away with a win . A couple dropped passes away from a victory you guys were .WV has a lot of fight and some great talent on the field. Good luck to you guys this season .

  13. crimson hammah September 2, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    told ya…greg robinson bust – will not start for the rams…i told ya the barn is no place to go for a player with nfl aspirations…barners step and shy the best players away from the barn > do the right thing

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