Last Saturday, Alabama had just the game it needed against Louisiana-Monroe. While it wasn’t perfect, it was a great warmup before heading into SEC play against Vanderbilt this Saturday.
The Crimson Tide now hopes to take the positives from that game and build on them as they seek to take care of business in their first SEC game of the season.
Here are a few things to watch for this Saturday as the Tide opens SEC play against Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt wide receiver Will Sheppard has been a huge part of the early success of the Commodores' offense this season. Sheppard leads the SEC in receiving with 313 yards and has scored seven touchdowns. With the struggles the Bama secondary had with the Texas receivers, this will be a key matchup to see how the Tide handles Sheppard.
This week, the Crimson Tide defense will face a big challenge handling Mike Wright, Vanderbilt’s dual-threat quarterback. So far, Wright has not been as flashy in the passing game but has excelled in the run game racking up 264 yards on the ground putting him fifth among all SEC rushers. While Wright is no Cam Newton or Johnny Manziel, this should be a good test for the Crimson Tide defense to see how they measure up against a true dual-threat quarterback.
As mentioned, Alabama’s run defense will have its hands full with Vanderbilt’s quarterback running the ball as well as running back Re’Mahn Davis. Davis has accumulated 362 rushing yards this season, putting him second in the SEC. So far this season, Alabama has had one of the best run defenses in the nation, and Vanderbilt has been one of the best run offenses. Something will have to give, but if Bama can contain the quarterback-designed runs they will win the battle.
So far this season, besides the fourth quarter against Texas, Bryce Young has not been as sharp passing the ball as he was last year. A lot of this has to do with all the new faces he has to throw the football to. Heading into the fourth game of the season, it is time for him and the receivers to get on the same page with reading the coverages and route running. This week, look for a breakout game from a receiver in the passing game instead of Jahmyr Gibbs.
Offensive line/running game
One of the side stories in this contest Saturday will be Alabama offensive lineman Tyler Steen going up against his old team. Steen transferred in from Vanderbilt and has been pretty consistent for the Tide so far, and that shouldn't change this weekend. Look for the offensive line to bring some physicality this week and really establish the run game that has not been great thus far this season. Also, expect Jahmyr Gibbs to be used as more of a runner than a pass catcher Saturday.
With a tough Arkansas team on deck, look for Bama to really fine-tune the offense against Vanderbilt so they can carry some momentum onto the road for a top 10 SEC matchup next Saturday against the Razorbacks.
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