Grading The Crimson Tide: Virginia Tech

Aaron HarrellCorrespondent ISeptember 6, 2009

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Running back Mark Ingram #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes upfield against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Georgia Dome on September 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Offensive Line

Miscues were early in the game. William Vlachos had difficulty keeping his snap off the ground, the line also had false start penalties, as well as holding penalties, but all that aside, the offensive line played fairily decent overall.

The holes were opened up in the second half and the pass protection got better, after McElroy was getting harrassed from every angle. Giving up two sacks against a veteran defensive line that practically returned all four starters and paving the way for 240 yards rushing, it was a pretty good game for them.

Grade: B+


Running Back

The strength of this offense didn't disappoint. Mark Ingram got stronger as the game went on and had a career night. Roy Upchurch didn't show any ill-effects from his neck injuries after plowing through two Hokie defenders to a 92 yard night. Other than Upchurch being careless with the football, the backs as a whole played well.

Grade: A



If Greg McElroy was being graded for the first half he would have at least a D- for going 2 of 12 and one interception. He looked shaky and for the first time in a long time, he had doubts about himself. Be that as it may, this is why we play two halves of football.

He went 13 of 18 in the second half with a touchdown pass and looked off Julio Jones (who was being bracketed all night) and found other receivers such as Colin Peek and Darius Hanks.

Grade: B-


Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Julio Jones had four catches for 46 yards and was being bracketed all night. Darius Hanks had a spectacular first quarter catch that went for 35 yards, as well as a few key 3rd down conversions.

Marquis Maze benefited from a 48 yard bomb that was made possible by good pass protection and using Jones as a decoy, but the story of the night was Colin Peek. Peek was a weapon in fourth quarter and had the Hokie defense on their heels.

Grade: B


Defensive Line

There is not much a 'Bama fan can say about the way the line played last night. Marcel Dareus did more than just fill in for Brandon Deaderick. He had one and half sacks and pressured Tyrod Taylor all night.

Lorenzo Washington did an excellent job in containment as well as getting in the backfield to blow up an option run late in the second quarter. As a whole, the line generated two sacks and controlled the line of scrimmage all night.

Grade: A



New linebacker coaches James Willis and Sal Sunseri could sit back and marvel at a job well done. The trio of Dont'a Hightower, Eryk Anders, and Rolando McClain were all over the field. Anders led all linebackers with eight tackles and McClain had two sacks.

At times in the game, Hightower lined up at the Jack spot and had a tremendous push at the line. The only sore spot would be the double penalty on McClain that led to a Virginia Tech touchdown. Other than that, the performance from the linebackers was solid.

Grade: A



The secondary held Taylor to 91 yards passing, but 43 of them came from a wheel route which was contributed to busted coverage by Marquis Johnson. Other than that, the secondary had six tackles as a whole with Javier Arenas and Johnson both having three.

When your secondary doesn't have to make a lot of tackles, that means your front seven is doing their job. Mark Barron played well and hurried Taylor into some bad throws, as well as Arenas. Other than the busted coverage, the secondary played considerably well.

Grade: A-


Special Teams

Leigh Tiffin went 4 of 5 from field goal range and PJ Fitzgerald first punt contributed to a muffed punt by Virginia Tech. Fitzgerald had three punts inside the 20 yard line and averaged 44.8 yards per punt.

But they will take a major hit due to Dyrell Roberts 195 yards from kick coverage that produced good field position for one drive and a 98 yard kick return for a touchdown.

Grade: C


Offensive Playcalling

Jim McElwain shocked everyone outside the Tide football team by lining up in the Wildcat on the first play of the game. Ingram had daylight ahead of him, but ran into Brad Smelley. The Tech defense were able to pin their ears back in the first half and double cover Jones.

However, in the second half, McElwain started to move Jones around in the slot to take advantage of Tech's double coverage and used screen passes to keep them off balance.

By the fourth quarter, McElroy started to get comfortable and was able to pick the Tech defense apart, while Ingram ran for 81 yards in the quarter. Alabama was only a mere two yards away from having 500 yards of total offense.

Grade: A-


Defensive Playcalling

The defensive coaches should deserve a round of applause. They did what they wanted to do in holding Tech to 155 yards. They made Taylor one dimensional and confused him all night long.

In fact, they made Tech burn all three of their timeouts in the first quarter. The defense met up to the expectations that were handed to them during the preseason. They may have to shore up some issues with their third cornerback against a team who can throw better if they want to contend for the SEC title.

Grade: A