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Chattanooga Grades
Posted by Woody Woodruff on Tuesday November 26 2013 @ 10:45AM CST
[ The Commissioner's Blog ]
In 121 years of Alabama football, there has never been a group like them. No other class of players has won more games, claimed more championships and sent more opposing coaches to the unemployment line. If you closed the book today on AJ McCarron, Kevin Norwood, CJ Mosley, Cody Mandel, Cade Foster, Deion Bellue, Ed Stinson, Tana Patrick, John Fulton, Kenny Bell, Nick Perry, Anthony Steen and Kellen Williams, you would have a story of success that is unrivaled in the annals of the college game.

Numbers tell the outlines of their story: 3 BCS Championships; 2 SEC Championships; 3 Western Division Championships; 5-0 records against Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Arkansas; 4-0 record in post-season bowls with victories over Texas, Michigan State, LSU and Notre Dame. Yet this senior class still has one or two more chapters to write.

Three more wins, and the players who arrived on campus as freshmen in 2009 and 2010, will depart Tuscaloosa with a record of achievement that might never be surpassed.

Shortly before 1:00 pm Saturday afternoon, those seniors were honored in the traditional pre-game ceremony with Coach Saban and their families. Less than three hours later, they were honored again with a sustained standing ovation from the fans. AJ, Kevin Norwood, Bellue and Fulton made a victory lap slapping hands with appreciative fans.

<img src="/images/blogger-image--456254201.jpg" border=0>

Others, not ready to go into the tunnel leading to the dressing room, stood on the playing field and waived to the cheering crowd. CJ Mosley,who chose to delay his pro career in order to return for his senior season, was perhaps the most reluctant player to leave Bryant Denny Stadium. According to the Tuscaloosa News, after getting dressed, Mosley returned to the field and walked out to the fifty yard line where he stood with his family and his thoughts.

The seniors, and their teammates, gave the fans a demonstration of Alabama football fitting for Senior Day. Not only did they thoroughly dominate Chattanooga 49-0, they did so in a display of depth that bodes well for next season when so many of this year's seniors are playing on Sundays.

Here's how I grade the game:

Offense: B- Readers of The Grades know that a one grade reduction is made as an adjustment for the quality of the opponent.

Alabama gained 435 yards of total offense [251 rushing], earned 22 first downs, and faced only 7 third downs the entire game, converting on 4 of the 7. The Tide had six drives that gained in excess of 40 yards [83, 80, 42, 62, 63, 70] producing five touchdowns and a turnover on downs. The minus was earned when the Offense failed to finish a 32 yard drive in the first quarter and turned the ball over on downs at the Mocs' 44 yard line.

AJ was ruthlessly efficient, completing 13 of 16 pass attempts for 172 yards and 2 TDs. His longest pass went across the middle to Kevin Norwood whose catch and run gained 50 yards. Norwood led all receivers with 84 yards and a TD on 4 receptions. Amari Cooper caught 3 passes for 42 yards and a TD. Christion Jones and Kenny Bell each caught 2 passes. Eight different receivers caught passes including Black & White and McCarron. Coach Saban told reporters after the game that at the half he told OC Doug Nussmeyer to come up with a play where AJ could throw to his brother, Cody. The younger McCarron told reporters that he really concentrated on making that catch because he knew if he dropped it AJ would "yell at him in front of a lot of people."

Seven different players gained yards rushing. Kenyan Drake gained 77 yards on 11 runs. Derrick Henry carried the ball 6 times for 68 yards, and Dee Hart ran 5 times for 25 yards. Altee Tenpenny and Blake Sims each ran the ball 4 times and the longest run from scrimmage was turned in by wide receiver Chris Black who scored a touchdown on a reverse that gained 31 yards.

Defense: B+ For the third time this season, the Tide held an opponent scoreless. Since the second game of the season in College Station, the Tide Defense has allowed all opponents to score only 5 touchdowns and leads the nation in scoring defense at 9.3 points per game.

The Mocs were held to 173 yards of total offense [93 rushing] and 8 first downs.

Landon Collins and CJ Mosley each made 7 tackles. Collins was credited with 5 solo stops while Mosley made 2 tackles for lost yardage. Reuben Foster and Trey DePriest each made 4 tackles. Foster had a tackle for lost yardage and DePriest made an interception. Tide defenders accounted for 8 tackles for lost yardage, a forced fumble [Jonathan Allen] that was returned 35 yards [Eddie Jackson]. 2 pass breakups and a blocked field goal attempt [A'Shawn Robinson].

The Mocs with their run-oriented offense were hopefully a good tune-up opponent for Auburn.

Special Teams;

Punting: C+ Cody Mandell's picture would have been on milk cartons around Tuscaloosa this morning if he had not come into the game to hold on place kicks after AJ was finished for the day. The middling punting grade is the average for Christion Jones who fumbled one punt (a knuckle-ball that he overran and tried to catch one-handed) and returned another for a touchdown.

Place Kicking: A Tide kickers were perfect on all seven PATs.

Kickoffs: B Alabama averaged only 58.9 gross yards per kick and the coverage unit occasionally struggled, allowing one return for 24 yards and achieving an average net yards per kick of only 43 yards.

Coaching: B The Tide did what it had to do against the Mocs. Alabama gained 527 all-purpose yards and was only penalized twice. By early in the 4th quarter, the quick reference guide in the program was utterly useless. The participation report lists 74 players who saw action Saturday afternoon.

After Saturday's game, AJ McCarron has won more games than any other Alabama quarterback, and the 2013 season still has one game to play. And what a game it will be. In 1992, the SEC adopted the two-division format and instituted a post-season game to determine the conference champion. This marks the first year that whoever wins the Iron Bowl will also be the winner of the SEC West.

The stakes for Alabama could not be higher. Win in the Village and play for the SEC Championship. Win the SEC and play for the BCS title for the third consecutive year. The opportunity for Auburn could not be sweeter. Beat the nation's number 1 team, earn the right to play for the conference crown, and have 365 days to crow about how Auburn crushed Alabama's championship hopes and dreams.

With Baylor falling ignominiously to Oklahoma State, and Oregon getting hammered by Arizona, Auburn finds itself in the improbable position of being two wins, and an indictment away from playing Ohio State for the BCS Championship. Or the Tigers could face FSU if Michigan State beats the Buckeye's for the Big 10 Championship. There are a lot of if's and but's that Auburn needs in order to play for the Big Crystal Football. Alabama, on the other hand, is the master of its own destiny. And Alabama has a huge advantage in its favor: a senior class that knows how to win.

The 2013 seniors may have played their final game at Bryant Denny Stadium, but their season, and indeed their quest for unmatched greatness, are far from over. Those Auburn fans who last week were chanting "We want Bama", are about to get more Bama than they can handle.

The Commissioner

< AJ Should Be Heisman Bound | Shane Writes from Beyond >

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