In two games this season, Alabama’s offense has gained more than 450 yards both times. The Crimson Tide’s defense has held opponents to 16 points, and if not for a late touchdown pass with 46 seconds left Saturday, Alabama would still have yet to allow a touchdown this season.
For a second straight game, the Tide put away its opponent in the second half with the game’s outcome never in doubt.
However, for a second straight game, Alabama head coach Nick Saban isn’t pleased. In fact, he’s pretty furious.
“It’s bad ball, it’s bad football and it’s not the kind of football we want to play here and it’s not the kind of football team that we want to have,” Saban said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been this disappointed after winning a game, maybe ever.”
After outscoring opponents 90-16 in two games, what is Saban so upset about?
Here are three things that will be haunting the head coach as his team prepares for a Week 3 matchup against Ole Miss.
After committing four penalties for 29 yards against Southern California in Week 1, Alabama tripled its penalties Saturday. The Tide were flagged 12 times against Western Kentucky for 84 yards, including a holding call that wiped out a 63-yard pass from Jalen Hurts to ArDarius Stewart.
“The disappointing thing about a lot of the penalties is that they are self-inflicting wounds. They’re unforced errors,” Saban said. “False starts. Things that are really lack of focus and discipline-type penalties. The good news is that they are correctable. We certainly need to get them corrected, and that’s certainly my responsibility.”
The 12 penalties were tied for the most Alabama has committed in a game under Saban. Alabama also committed 12 penalties during a 49-42 win against Texas A&M in 2013. All but one of the Alabama’s penalties came on offense, as the Tide was flagged for five false starts. Alabama’s offensive line was also responsible for two holding penalties.
“We’ll just go back and try to do what we did before,” Saban said. “We have officials at practice every day call penalties on guys.”
Ground game woes
Alabama rushed for 242 yards in Week 1 but was held to 124 yards on 39 carries Saturday. The rushing total was the Tide’s lowest against a non-SEC school since a 31-6 win against Colorado State in 2013, where Alabama was held to 66 yards on the ground.
Damien Harris led the Tide with 45 yards on 11 carries, while fellow sophomore Bo Scarbrough had 19 yards and a touchdown on five carries. True freshman, B.J. Emmons shined the brightest of all the backs, gaining 41 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
After ripping off several big plays on the ground in Week 1, Alabama failed to generate the same production Saturday. The Tide’s biggest run play came on a 14-yard gain from Emmons on the final play of the game.
Alabama saw the return of senior offensive lineman Alphonse Taylor, who missed the season opener due to suspension. Taylor started all 15 games at right guard last season. The Tide started sophomore Ross Pierschbacher at right guardon Saturday but rotated Taylor into the unit later in the game.
“We will evaluate how the guys played and play the best five guys that we can,” Saban said. “(Taylor) was a starter a whole year, so he was suspended for a game, now he’s back. He probably needs to get in a little better shape, but hopefully he’ll be a productive player for us. I hope both of those guys will be productive players for us.”
Alabama turned the ball over only once against Western Kentucky, but it proved to be costly for the Tide. Junior wide receiver Robert Foster fumbled a ball at the Alabama 26-yard line with 1:34 left in the game, setting up a WKU scoring opportunity late.
The Hilltoppers capitalized, as Drew Eckels hit receiver Lucky Jackson for a 24-yard touchdown on third-and-8 with 46 seconds remaining on the clock. The touchdown was the first scored on the Tide this season.
Saban was not impressed with the outcome, calling the fumble “one turnover too many” during his news conference. After the play, Saban was seen in a heated exchange with offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin on the sidelines.
“There was no argument,” Saban explained during his post-game news conference. “Those are called ass chewings.”
Alabama will travel to Ole Miss this week. The Rebels beat the Tide 43-37 last year and 23-17 in 2014, making them the only SEC team to defeat Alabama the past two seasons. Since Saban joined the Tide in 2007, no team has defeated Alabama three straight times.
“We are not playing as well as we should be playing right now,” said senior linebacker Ryan Anderson. “We just need to show up Monday so everybody can go to work.”