What's wrong with top-ranked Alabama? It depends on one's choice of C-word.
Quarterback AJ McCarron said the "whole offense" has a problem with "communication."
Just watch a video of his testy exchange with reporters after the Crimson Tide's 31-6 victory over Colorado State on Saturday. He said some form of the word communication six times in a minute and a half.
Alabama sees an overall problem with "consistency."
Just watch video of Saban's Monday news conference. In 11 minutes and 40 seconds, he used the word "consistency" seven times and "consistent" once.
It all makes one want to scream another C-word -- chill.
Whatever Alabama's problems, the Tide is 3-0, and the biggest bursts of anxiety in and around Tide camp came after 25-point victories over Virginia Tech and Colorado State.
But we're talking Saban, the guy who has coached the humans in and around his team to wear blinders and see only a dominance standard, never mind the score, opponent or pressures -- ahem, "clutter."
We're talking Alabama, the program that won three of the past four national championships and became the first repeat champion in the Bowl Championship Series era.
Saban-led Alabama showed it's possible to stay thirsty, my friends, and stay on top two years in a row. Even he acknowledged that such a feat stretches human nature.
Is everyone game for three in a row?
Reading faces, one wonders.
McCarron is the player face of this year's team, and he's not one to hide emotions. Just ask Barrett Jones.
McCarron's irritation came across Saturday, and it was hard to tell what irritated him more --- the huddle of familiar reporters, the questions or the answer he had to communicate.
One answer that didn't involve his pet C-word came when a reporter asked about Saban's postgame speech.
"Same as always," McCarron said. "It's about us."
The two biggest questions surrounding this year's Alabama team involve the offensive line and secondary, where the Tide suffered major attrition from 2012. Maybe we need a quick review.
Guard Chance Warmack and tackle D.J. Fluker were first-round picks in the NFL draft. Jones, the center and a four-year starter who played every position on the line, went in the fourth round.
And don't forget Michael Williams. One of the better blocking tight ends around went in the seventh round.
Guard Anthony Steen, one of two returning starters on the offensive line, sat out the Colorado State game after sustaining a mild concussion at Texas A&M.
The secondary lost cornerback and first-round pick Dee Milliner and senior safety Robert Lester.
Deion Belue, the best cornerback on this year's team, went down with a toe injury at Texas A&M and didn't play against Colorado State. "Star" Jarrick Williams (eye) and safety Nick Perry (shoulder) also sat out Saturday.
It's no shock that the secondary and offensive line have consistency and communication hiccups. The surprise is that both remain problems after three games and an open date, but consider injuries and shuffling.
Back to the big picture, Alabama started this season No. 1 in both major polls and remains so. The Tide dropped a few first-place votes, only getting 56 out of 60 in the Associated Press poll this week.
There's every sense that Alabama remains the best team in college football, and only a handful of teams realistically in upset's reach. The Tide won't see the next one of those teams until No. 6 LSU comes to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9.
No. 21 Ole Miss comes to Tuscaloosa this week with quarterback Bo Wallace voicing every confidence the Rebels will score plenty of points, but they'd better. Ole Miss is a 16.5-point underdog.
Until further notice, Alabama remains a favorite play for the BCS championship in the Rose Bowl, and championships are the ultimate C-word around T-town these days.
One does sense, however, that this team needs to chill and smell the roses more along the way.
Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, email@example.com. On Twitter@jmedley_star.