Alabama’s wild ride of a season finally came to a close with a 27-20 Rose Bowl loss to No. 1 Michigan in the College Football Playoff semifinals on Monday.
While some might view this game as one of the best games of the season, it was actually just an ugly and sloppy game played by both teams, with the better team on the night sealing their spot in the College Football Championship Game.
Alabama's worst characteristics reemerged on Monday night, leading to costly mistakes that ultimately hindered their opportunity for victory. Sacks, bad snaps and penalties highlighted those costly mistakes from the Crimson Tide.
Here are a few takeaways from Alabama’s loss in the Rose Bowl.
Offensive Line Struggled Handling the Blitz
Protecting Jalen Milroe has been a problem for most of the season. Toward the end of the year, it appeared that protection was improving and corrections had been made. On Monday night, the offensive line could not handle the different blitz packages Michigan threw their way. In the first half alone, Milroe was sacked five times. Corrections were made at halftime, with the offensive line only allowing one sack in the second half.
Rushing Attack Shines
While the offensive line struggled in pass protection, the run blocking was dominant. Alabama’s offensive line, along with the tight ends, opened up holes for the Crimson Tide runners to rush for 172 yards. Alabama’s rushing numbers would have been even better if not for the six sacks that took off 49 yards from their rushing stats. Jase McClellan led the Alabama rushing attack with 87 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns.
Special Teams Plays a Huge Factor
Michigan’s special teams unit was an absolute disaster, doing everything it could to keep Alabama in the football game. The Wolverines missed an extra point and a field goal, as well as muffing a punt that led to seven points for the Crimson Tide. On the other end, Alabama received excellent special teams from James Burnip and Will Reichard. Burnip consistently delivered deep punts that flipped the field position for the defense. Reichard connected on both field goal attempts, hitting one from 50 yards and another from 52 yards. Alabama’s special teams outplayed Michigan but was not enough to bring Alabama to victory.
Snapping Issues Still a Problem
Throughout the season, Alabama has battled issues snapping the football. Bad snaps have led to leaving points off the board and killing drives for the Crimson Tide, and Monday night was no different. Throughout the game, Milroe had to field snaps below his knees, throwing off the timing of plays and giving the Michigan defense a head start on the offensive line. The bad snaps really came to light at the start of the second half. Alabama was driving the ball deep into Michigan territory until back-to-back bad snaps killed the promising drive.
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