Fox Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt took time Thursday to break down Alabama’s loss against Texas A&M from a unique perspective. While acknowledging that the Aggies deserve credit for capitalizing on mistakes, Klatt focused on Alabama’s poor execution as the primary factor in the historic upset.
In an eight-minute video posted by FOX College Football, Klatt breaks down the loss with historic context and game film, demonstrating the flaws at Alabama. He opens first on the defense, which is currently allowing 22 points per game. That ties Nick Saban’s 2007 defense for the worst average of the Saban era, plummeting outside the top 20 defenses for the first time in 14 years.
However, Klatt does not place the blame on the poor defensive numbers. Instead, he recognizes a trend, which started in 2018, where the defense falls victim to offensive success. As Saban adapts to the offensive game, the defensive numbers take a hit, albeit nothing like this year’s team.
“The margin for the offense – the margin for error – is just shrinking a little bit. So now every time they get into a position to score, it’s just more important. That was the case against Texas A&M.”
Breaking down the offense
Instead, Joel Klatt takes the Alabama offense to task for its poor execution, focusing one two goal line opportunities which produced just three points. It all starts in the second quarter, when Alabama reaches first-and-goal from the four-yard line.
On first down, Alabama runs an RPO to perfection, taking the ball inside the two-yard line. The second-down play falls apart when tight end Cameron Latu stops short of his assignment, leaving a gap for defenders to reach Brian Robinson Jr. in the backfield. Needing to score on third down, the Crimson Tide offense spreads things out, but does not run a single rub route across the goal line.
The resulting throw to the flat is read by the defender and leads to an interception. Klatt offers that offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien should be taken to task, not giving his young quarterback an easy throw.
Later, in the fourth quarter, Alabama again lines up inside the five-yard line. O’Brien offers the bunch look Klatt called for in the second, but quarterback Bryce Young misreads the defense and delivers a ball into traffic, rather than letting Robinson Jr. carry it through the middle. The second-down play ends up thrown off by poor timing on a rub route, causing tight end Jahleel Billingsley to run into his wide receiver.
Desperate for a touchdown, Alabama draws up the same third-down play which failed in the second quarter. O’Brien’s play forces Young to force the ball outside toward Slade Bolden in the flat. The pass falls incomplete, and kicker Will Reichard comes out for the field goal.
Joel Klatt’s conclusion
After breaking down the numbers and film, Joel Klatt offers his final thoughts on the Alabama gameplan and execution against Texas A&M. He does not hold back, spreading criticism across the board.
“The defense is not providing the margin for error offensively that they have in the past,” said Klatt. “So, what do you have to do? You have to capitalize when you’re in the scoring area, inparticular when you’ve got first-and-five or first-and-goal at the five-yard line. Alabama did not capitalize in those situations. Poor decisions from the quarterback, poor execution from the tight end group, poor play call and play design from Bill O’Brien. That’s what happened to Alabama on Saturday. And when that happens, you get beat.”