Let’s flash back here for a second. No, it’s not going to be a reference to the 2013 Iron Bowl. But it is to another sensitive loss.
During last season’s national championship game, Alabama converted just 2 of 15 third downs against Clemson.
“We’re not sitting here beating our chests,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “The end result was excellent, but there were some opportunities there. Our guys played well, too; I’m not going to take anything away from them.”
Alabama, not so much.
The two successful conversions came during the same drive, and it ended in an Alabama punt anyway. Just three of the third-down attempts were in Clemson territory, too. Only one resulted in a field goal.
“Anybody, it’s hard when you get them behind the chains and it’s third-and-long,” Venables said. “… Where they’re at their best is when they’re staying on schedule on early downs and that will be their goal again.”
This season, the Crimson Tide has picked up a first down on 61 of its 147 third downs. That crunches out to be 41 percent of the time.
“We just have to execute,” Alabama offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman said. “That’s our thing. We have to execute on first, second, third and fourth down.”