Yet again, Alabama played only one good half.
After the first half, when Alabama was winning 7-3, I looked to the other Crimson White sports editor and asked, “But what if this was our good half?”
And unfortunately, it was. That 60-minute game Nick Saban keeps talking about eluded the Crimson Tide again. The first half was good. There were defensive stops and a near-balanced offensive playbook. And then at halftime, the score reflected last year’s score, only reversed.
Looking at all the numbers, it seemed like Alabama could surely pull out a win. Saban was 35-1 when leading at the half (the last loss was in 2007 to LSU…of course) and LSU coach Les Miles was only 12-9 when trailing at the half. Sure, that’s a winning record, but not nearly as impressive as Saban’s record.
Quarterback Jordan Jefferson hadn’t thrown a touchdown pass in a game since the first game of the season against North Carolina, but he had thrown an interception in all but three games, four including Alabama.
And yet, Jefferson managed to hit Rueben Randle for a 75-yard touchdown pass, and he was turnover-free the whole game. The touchdown pass was the first big play of the second half, and it gave LSU the lead, as well as the momentum. It was just the start of the bad half that Alabama was sure to play.
For as long as I can remember, Alabama has never been the team to play a full game on a consistent basis. There are a few games where a team has pulled out 60 minutes of solid performance, but in general, Alabama is not traditionally a 60-minute team.
“As a team, we worry about it because that’s what we’re taught to do,” wide receiver Marquis Maze said after the Ole Miss game. “We’re taught to play for 60 minutes, and we want to dominate each opponent we play every game.”
It’s good that the players are aware of it, and clearly they’ve been aware of it. But then what is it that keeps the team from changing it? Is this a mentality issue, or is it something else?
In this season, every game but two are examples of this team being a one-half team. San Joe State and Duke are the exceptions. But with Penn State, Florida, Ole Miss and LSU, Alabama was a first-half team, and against Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee, the Tide played better in the second half.
And unfortunately, whichever half the Tide plays better doesn’t really matter because the team has lost a game favoring each.
There are three more regular season games left and hopefully a bowl game somewhere in the Tide’s future. Alabama can still end with an 11-2 record. True, that isn’t an SEC Championship, and it’s not another national championship either. But it would include a win against Auburn, which would be amazing, because who isn’t sick of hearing about Cam Newton?
This season isn’t over. There’s still a lot to play for, and there are still chances left to play a complete game.
“We’re still waiting on that game where we dominate our opponent for 60 minutes,” Maze said, also after Ole Miss.
Yeah. So is everyone else.