Georgia State vs. Alabama: 10 Things We Learned in the Tide's Win
In what was seemingly more of a scrimmage than a midseason game, the Alabama Crimson Tide dominated the Georgia State Panthers on their way to a 45-3 home victory.
It was all Alabama from the start. Georgia State proved to be no match for the nation's No. 1 team.
With the next five games coming against SEC squads, this was exactly the tune-up the Crimson Tide needed.
There is not always a lot to learn in such a dominating victory, but it is clear midway through the season that Alabama is one of the top teams in the country. The Crimson Tide will clearly be in the national title conversation all season long.
But what exactly did we learn in the Tide's dominating victory over the Panthers? Here are 10 takeaways from the Alabama victory.
*All stats according to NCAA.com.
AJ McCarron Is as Good as It Gets at Quarterback
Senior quarterback AJ McCarron has not put up huge numbers this season, but the Crimson Tide signal-caller has not had to. That was the case once again on Saturday.
McCarron had one of the best performances in recent memory for a Crimson Tide quarterback, but he only played through two quarters. He finished the game 15-of-16 passing for 166 yards and four touchdowns.
McCarron then gave the reins to junior Blake Sims, who finished the game 14-of-18 passing for 130 yards and a score. Sims proved more than capable of leading the offense. He will likely be the starter next season, but hopefully for Alabama, he will not take a meaningful snap in 2013. Those will all belong to McCarron.
McCarron is the most experienced player on the roster, having been a part of three national championship squads. He managed the game perfectly on Saturday in the victory over Georgia State.
Once again, McCarron proved he is one of the best quarterbacks in the country.
The Secondary Is Showing Signs of Improvement
Coming into the game, the Alabama pass defense was not quite what Nick Saban had grown accustomed to over the past few seasons.
The group ranked 60th in the country, allowing 227.5 yards a game. That number is going to improve when statistics come out at the end of the week. The Crimson Tide held Georgia State to only 160 yards through the air, with most of that coming in the second half.
While it is just Georgia State, playing without a talented free safety like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is no easy task. Alabama showed that it is headed in the right direction as far as the secondary is concerned. Youngsters like Eddie Jackson and Maurice Smith saw significant playing time in his absence.
Showing improvement against a more talented team is the next step for the Crimson Tide.
The Offensive Line Continues to Progress
One of Alabama's many strengths last season was the play of the offensive line. The group was led by names like Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker and Barrett Jones, who are now playing on Sundays.
The offensive line has not looked quite the same so far this season, but it appears the unit has turned the corner in recent weeks. That was on full display Saturday during a dominating victory over Georgia State.
The leader of the group is tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. He has as much talent as almost anybody in the country. He has continued to develop during his junior season, and his play was excellent on Saturday.
Meanwhile, names like Anthony Steen and Austin Shepherd had huge nights opening up holes in the running game, particularly early on. They helped pave the way for T.J. Yeldon. He only carried the ball six times, but he totaled 51 yards and a score.
C.J. Mosley Is a Superstar
C.J. Mosley was all over the place Saturday. He made big plays all day long and proved why he is the most important player on defense for Alabama.
When he missed a few plays early in the third quarter, the Panthers were able to get inti field-goal range and nail a 53-yarder for their only score of the game.
Mosley did not have a huge game this week; however, his impact was felt not only in the stat line, but also as the emotional defensive leader for the Crimson Tide.
Georgia State Is as Bad as It Gets at the FBS Level
It is not often that an FBS school is dominated by virtually every team it plays, but that has been the case so far this season for the Panthers.
Georgia State has double-digit losses to teams like Samford and Chattanooga, along with a 32-26 overtime defeat to Jacksonville State.
So this 45-3 loss to Alabama came as no surprise. It clearly reiterated that Georgia State is the worst team at the FBS level. The Panthers are not capable of competing with most FCS schools, much less the top of the FBS level.
With conference play now starting for Georgia State, it is going to be hard for this team to win a game, even in the Sun Belt Conference.
The Alabama Rushing Attack Is More Than Just T.J. Yeldon
Most Crimson Tide fans were already aware of Alabama's depth, particularly at running back, but it was on full display Saturday afternoon.
Starter T.J. Yeldon did his thing, rushing for 51 yards and a touchdown on only six carries, but one guy who stepped up was sophomore Kenyan Drake.
Coming into the game, Drake had only received more than seven carries one time in a game this season. Saturday, he carried the ball five times for 40 yards. He also caught a ball out of the backfield for a 23-yard touchdown.
The Crimson Tide also received an excellent game from freshman running back Derrick Henry. He rushed for 50 yards on five carries. Junior Jalston Fowler was solid as well, rushing for 23 yards on three carries along with a one-yard touchdown reception.
Too many running backs is an excellent problem to have for Alabama.
The Defensive Line Played Like Monsters
Alabama won all facets of the game, but it was particularly dominant up front.
The Crimson Tide held Georgia State to 15 yards rushing on 22 attempts. That average of 0.7 yards per carry is something to take notice of.
Nose tackle Brandon Ivory was especially impressive. He blew up a play in the first quarter and set the tone for the Crimson Tide early on.
The defensive line's domination was the main reason why Alabama had no problem coming out with a victory.
The Wide Receiver Play Is Getting Better
For as strong as Alabama is on the offensive side of the ball, the Crimson Tide need to get more consistent play from the wide receiver position.
That is exactly what happened on Saturday.
Sophomore Amari Cooper has been a huge disappointment so far this season. After totaling 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns on 59 receptions last season, he has struggled in 2013. Cooper did not have a catch on Saturday.
Two wide receivers who have stepped up this year are juniors Christion Jones and DeAndrew White. White had an amazing touchdown grab and totaled 45 yards on four catches, while Jones had a nice touchdown of his own with three catches for 22 yards.
One player who stood out was Chris Black. The freshman led the team with six catches and 54 yards along with a touchdown.
While these players have been solid, head coach Nick Saban will need a little more out of this position group if the Crimson Tide plan on running the table and playing in the national championship game this season.
Freshman Tight End O.J. Howard Has Unlimited Potential
At 6'6" and 237 pounds, freshman tight end O.J. Howard has a wealth of talent. There is little doubt that he will be one of the top players in the country at his position before his time is up at Alabama.
While he did not have catches in two of the five games so far this season, the Prattville, Ala., native has all the talent in the world. He did not see the field too much because of the blowout victory, but he did have one catch for 13 yards.
Howard has the perfect size and speed combination to be an All-American as early as next season. He will be a huge threat down the stretch for the Crimson Tide.
The Defense Is Slowly Returning to Its Old Form
After it allowed 42 points to Texas A&M the second game of the season, a lot of questions arose concerning the Crimson Tide defense.
Over the past three games, that talk has slowed down. Colorado State was only able to put up six points, and Ole Miss could not score last weekend. Meanwhile, Georgia State managed only a field goal on Saturday.
Suddenly the Alabama defense is nearing the top of the country in points per game.
The group only allowed 175 total yards, with most of those coming in the second half with the second- and third-string players in the game.
There is still a long way to go, but do not be surprised if the Crimson Tide finish the season near the top five in total defense.