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First Look: Alabama

Oh good. These guys.

NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt heads to Tuscaloosa on Saturday, and, well... this has not been a happy place for Vanderbilt historically, but you knew that.

The Commodores’ last win in Tuscaloosa — or over Alabama, period: 1984. The last time Vanderbilt scored a point against Alabama: 2007. (Okay, okay, Vanderbilt has only played Alabama twice since then. We’d rather forget the 2017 game.)

Through three games this season, Alabama has sandwiched two typical Alabama performances, a 55-0 win over Utah State and a 63-7 win over UL-Monroe, around a last-second, 20-19 win at Texas. The bad news for Vanderbilt, of course, is that while we’re significantly better than either Utah State (which also lost 35-7 to FCS Weber State) or UL-Monroe, we’re also closer to those two than we are to Texas.

Bryce Young isn’t quite on the pace of his Heisman season in 2021; while his completion percentage is up slightly, he’s averaging 1.3 fewer yards per attempt. But that might have more to do with the receiving corps than anything Young is doing; currently, Alabama’s leader in receptions is Jahmyr Gibbs, a running back.

Alabama’s defense, on the other hand, has looked more similar to the early-era Saban defenses than the (relative) clusterfucks of the last couple of years. Texas managed to have a bit of success moving the ball, particularly before Quinn Ewers exited the game, but Alabama’s defense was able to limit them to field goals, and the Longhorns netted just 79 yards on the ground on 33 attempts; meanwhile, the other two opponents were both held under 200 yards of total offense.

This is one of those games where we won’t learn anything bad about our team. Alabama is probably going to win by a lot, but if the offense (currently averaging 42 ppg) is able to find any degree of success against this defense, that’s a positive sign.