By Tommy Deas
Alabama’s offense has had to work a little harder to get its yards and points these last two weeks against a pair of top defenses, but the Crimson Tide is still in the top five in scoring and total offense at 48 points and 530 yards per game.
The Crimson Tide has shut out two ranked teams in a row, a first in school history. This unit keeps getting better, with Mack Wilson providing leadership at linebacker and both the front four and the defensive backfield wreaking havoc on opponents.
This has been a rocky area for Alabama, but the developments in last weekend’s Mississippi State game were positive: a long field goal from Joseph Bulovas, a turnover on punt coverage and Mike Bernier pinning an opponent at the 1-yard line with a nice punt.
The Citadel has a mission to prepare future military leaders, and Brent Thompson has the Bulldogs trending in the right direction with wins in three of the last four weeks. Nick Saban is playing the game at a much higher level, and has Alabama contending again.
This game comes between contests against ranked teams in the previous two weeks and the annual showdown with Auburn. Alabama players might not be completely focused, but the Crimson Tide is playing for bigger prizes with conference and national titles still on the table.
Alabama 55, The Citadel 3
The Citadel gets its name on the television score scrolls all day for playing the No. 1 team and gets a nice paycheck, but that thrill will surely be outweighed by being overmatched at every position on the field. Alabama needs to put it away early.
Alabama 52, The Citadel 0
Mimosas, anyone? Alabama fans will enjoy a relaxing brunch while watching Alabama record its third consecutive shutout during its first meeting against The Citadel.
Alabama 49, The Citadel 3
Any score involving a lot of Alabama points and not many Citadel points is possible but the Crimson Tide isn’t normally worried about the margin in this situation as much as getting the starters in and out pretty quickly.
Alabama 45, The Citadel 6
The Crimson Tide defense has gotten a shutout against its FCS foe in three of the last six years. It could happen again on Saturday, but the guess here is that Alabama lets off the gas just enough to allow a score.
Alabama 47, The Citadel 0
Alabama’s focus is getting its defense better by scheduling to play a team whose offense is a little different, which could help down the road. This will be a great game for both teams to see where there needs to be improvement.
Alabama 48, The Citadel 0
No-score November continues as the Crimson Tide defense has another dominant performance. The offense has endured some physical lumps the last two weeks, but things should improve this week.
Alabama 49, The Citadel 7
The Crimson Tide will quickly dispatch the Bulldogs in unceremonious fashion. Most Alabama students will stay in bed, saving up their energy for the Iron Bowl.
Alabama 56, The Citadel 10
No need for tin horns this week. The Citadel has a good offense, but not enough to give Alabama headaches like Georgia Southern did in 2011. Nick Saban said Tua Tagovailoa will play, but I’d be shocked if he’s on the field for more than a quarter.
Alabama 45, The Citadel 0
It is what it is. Alabama’s defense has found its groove, so good luck, and Nick Saban said he won’t sit Tua Tagovailoa. Granted, he didn’t say how long he’ll play, but any Tua time is a good time for the Crimson Tide.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
By Ben Stansell
Brian Robinson, Soph./RB, 6-1/221
Key Stat: Has 268 yards and a touchdown this year
Buzz: A bull of a running back, Robinson will plow through defenders to gain extra yards. That ability has allowed him to earn carries even in a backfield brimming with talent. He’s also shown flashes of being a dangerous kick returner. With Najee Harris still recovering from a sprained ankle, Robinson could see extra work against The Citadel.
Joshua McMillon, R-Jr./LB, 6-3/238
Key Stat: Made a career-high six tackles against Louisiana-Lafayette this season
Buzz: McMillon has provided Alabama’s linebacker corps with depth the past two season, but could be slated for a bigger role against The Citadel on Saturday. In addition to contributing on special teams, the veteran linebacker has made 14 tackles, including one tackle for a loss, during the 2018 campaign.
Matt Womack, R-Jr./OL, 6-7/325
Key Stat: Started all 14 games at right tackle last season
Buzz: Womack was a mainstay on Alabama’s offensive line last season. After breaking his foot in the spring, and then re-injuring it in preseason, Womack has been sidelined for most of this season as Jedrick Wills Jr. has flourished in his place. Womack has started to work his way back into the rotation and could see increased snaps Saturday.
Lorenzo Ward, Jr./FB, 5-10/210
Key Stat: Four rushing touchdowns in The Citadel’s win over Samford last week
Buzz: His scoring outburst against Samford aside, Ward has been a productive back for The Citadel all season. He’s racked up 661 yards and seven touchdowns on 160 carries. He’s proven he can shoulder a heavy work load as well. Against Towson, he ran 35 times for a season-high 180 yards and a score.
Jordan Black, Jr./QB, 6-1/200
Key Stat: Has accounted for 13 total touchdowns this season
Buzz: Black is The Citadel’s leading passer, having completed 41 of 93 passes for 723 yards. In the Bulldogs’ option attack, however, Black’s ability to run the ball makes him a playmaker. He’s carried the ball 113 times for 471 yards and 10 touchdowns and is The Citadel’s second leading rusher. Stopping Black will be a point of emphasis for Alabama’s defense.
Willie Eubanks III, Soph./LB, 6-2/215
Key Stat: Leads The Citadel with 71 tackles on the season
Buzz: Eubanks has made his presence felt in several defensive categories. Along with leading the team in tackles, Eubanks has seven tackles for a loss, four and a half sacks, two interceptions and has recovered two fumbles. If The Citadel forces Alabama into making mistakes Saturday, Eubanks will be ready to capitalize.