Rushing offense: A
In the first half — the only fair gauge in this game — Alabama rushed for 192 yards on 21 carries and scored four touchdowns. The only negative-yardage play was when AJ McCarron had to fall on a fumble on first-and-goal at the Western Carolina 1. Eddie Lacy took care of that on the next play with a 7-yard TD run that started a 42-point first-half explosion. After that, it was easy. Frankly, too easy.
Rushing defense: A
In the first half, the Catamounts rushed 17 times for 15 yards. The leading rusher had 5 yards. The Catamounts’ offense never threatened against the Tide’s front-line defenders, who themselves produced a TD just before the half.
Passing offense: A
McCarron (6-for-6) and backup Blake Sims (1-1) were perfect in the first half. Four different receivers had receptions of 22 yards or longer in those two quarters. The regulars sat in the second half, but Sims continued to shine, mostly running the ball.
Passing defense: B
Trying real hard to find faults and there was one against the regulars: a 28-yard reception late in the first quarter after the Tide was ahead 21-0. The next play was a sack for an 8-yard loss. Total passing yards against the front-line defense: 25 yards on 3-of-6 passing (that’s right, the other two receptions in the first half resulted in minus-3 yards),
Special Teams: B
Christion Jones fumbled two punts in the first half, and the Catamounts recovered the second one with 41 seconds remaining before halftime. That actually ended up leading to a Tide defensive TD, but against a real team, Jones’ mistakes could’ve been costly. However, Cade Foster kicked off extremely well, and that had nothing to do with the opposing team. Punter Cody Mandell didn’t see the field until the fourth quarter.
Alabama looked sharp against a team that was woefully overmatched, and that sometimes can be difficult to do in such games. Credit Nick Saban and his staff for that — and for keeping the score from getting way out of hand. Alabama was never really stopped when it was trying, and could’ve scored 100, easily.
Alabama looked good early, but what did it really mean? What did it really show against this foe? The first-team offense scored the first five times it had the ball, including the first four times with McCarron under center. The defense scored a first-half TD and was never seriously threatened when the regulars were in. When it’s 42-0 at the half and the clock keeps running in the second half, everything’s distorted. Bring on Auburn.