In Frustration, Alabama Hopes To Learn From Historic Loss
Saturday night in Kyle Field did not go the way anyone thought it would.
Alas, the Alabama Crimson Tide lost to a two-loss Texas A&M Aggies team. In the process, Alabama's 100-game winning streak against unranked opponents is over. Nick Saban is no longer undefeated against his former assistants. Alabama under Saban is now 0-4 when trailing by 14+ at halftime.
All of that hurts. It's a noticeable scratch across the face of the nation's undisputed number one football program over the last 13 years.
It's painful, but it serves as a lesson within 'The Process' Saban has installed within his program.
"I think that everybody needs to remember how they feel and not forget it," Saban said. "Because when I talk about having respect for winning, that's what I mean. You want to avoid the feeling that you have when you lose."
Certainly, that's more applicable to the team than a fanbase waking up on a Sunday morning lamenting over the could have been in Saturday's contest.
The fanbase's frustrations are understandable, if not slightly misplaced due to an unmatched passion in the sport.
After all, Alabama outgained the Aggies 522 yards to 379, outrushed the opposition 153 to 94. The Crimson Tide won the time-of-possession battle and ran 24 more plays than Texas A&M despite losing the turnover battle. That just adds to the frustration.
Alabama made adjustments throughout the football game, enough to win.
The Crimson Tide struggled to stop a particular overload blitz from the Aggies' defense, but once Bill O'Brien and his offense snuffed it out, Bryce Young tossed a rainbow touchdown to Jameson Williams.
The defense struggled to stop the TAMU rushing attack in the first half but rendered that phase of the game obsolete in the second half.
Again, Alabama performing somewhat well enough to win and not doing so is just an addition to the frustration. Especially since what Alabama did to win failed to overcome what the Tide did to lose.
"Think about two things: think about how you feel when you lose, think about 'what did you do to contribute to losing'," Saban said. "We did a lot of things out there to contribute to the other team, whether they were penalties, missed plays, dropped balls."
It's far from normal for Alabama to help the opposition the way it did in College Station. An early fumble from Brian Robinson gave the Aggies momentum, as did a goalline interception from Bryce Young.
Immediately after a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown, the Aggies stole the momentum back with a kickoff return for a score.
On Alabama's final drive to put the game out of reach, Alabama went three-and-out after a drop by Jahleel Billingsley and a low pass from Young to John Metchie.
It's all an opportunity to learn and grow for a team with an abundance of talent and a lack of experience.
"Hopefully we'll learn a lot from this," Saban said. "We still can accomplish everything we want to accomplish."
Alabama remains at the top of the SEC West with a clear path to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Bryce Young is still at the top of the Heisman Trophy odds. Brian Robinson and Jameson Williams have both established themselves as key weapons in the offense.
The first opportunity for redemption is in Starkville, Miss. next week against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, one of the two victors over Texas A&M.
In the meantime, a reminder: Alabama has only finished the season undefeated twice under Saban but has six national championships in his tenure. It's not time to relax, but it's far from the time to panic.