Most of the time, only Alabama stopped Alabama with false-start penalties on its first possessions of both halves and T.J. Yeldon’s fumble inside A&M’s 5-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Otherwise, the Tide moved the ball with ease, scoring touchdowns on seven of 12 possessions. It was also big in this game that Alabama held just more than a 10-minute edge in time of possession, precious minutes that Johnny Manziel wasn’t on the field making plays against Alabama’s secondary.
Statistically, Alabama had its worst day in program history, giving up 628 yards. The previous worst was 601 to LSU in 2001.
In particular, Alabama’s secondary was abysmal in man-to-man coverage, as A&M’s Mike Evans torched the Tide for seven catches and 279 yards.
Still, the Tide’s defense made the two biggest plays in the game, cornerback Cyrus Jones’ interception in the end zone in the second quarter and cornerback Jarrick Williams’ tip that resulted in safety Vinnie Sunseri’s 73-yard interception return in the third quarter.
Those two turnovers kept an A&M touchdown off the scoreboard and put an Alabama touchdown on it. Also, Alabama’s offense scored after Jones’ interception, taking a 21-14 lead right after A&M had chance to do the same.
Alabama didn’t mount the big plays like Christion Jones’ TD returns against Virginia Tech, but the Tide again ruled field position. Texas A&M’s average starting position after Alabama’s eight kickoffs was the Aggies’ 22.8-yard line. The Aggies’ average starting point after Alabama’s three punts was their 31.7. A&M started all 12 of its possessions on its side of the field.
Also, Alabama’s Amari Cooper fielded A&M’s onside kick with 15 seconds left.
On defense, Alabama wanted to rush five and count on man-to-man coverage much of the day. Alabama won, but the defensive strategy clearly didn’t work.
Alabama’s offensive staff, however, had it figured out and came to this game with a much better plan than in the Virginia Tech game. They came ready to handle the nine-up, two-deep looks, showing an array of intermediate passes.
Alabama also punished A&M when the Aggies sold out against the run, using a flea-flicker call that resulted in McCarron’s touchdown lob to DeAndrew White in the second quarter.
Alabama exposed a truth about Texas A&M’s second year in the SEC. A strong-enough offense can render a big statistical game Manziel not decisive, because A&M’s defense is weak. It didn’t matter that the Aggies got back all of the defenders that missed one or both of their first two games. They could not stop Alabama, and the result was a Tide victory in a much-anticipated rematch.