Chris Stephens

What We Learned About Alabama And Texas A&M

Created on Sept. 15, 2013 7:46 AM EST

Fans came into Saturday's game expecting Alabama and Texas A&M to leave it all on the field, giving them another classic.

That's exactly what happened as the Crimson Tide overcame a 14-0 deficit early in the first quarter to beat the Aggies, 49-42.

Offenses reigned supreme throughout the game, but the defenses also made big plays.

Through it all, we learned a few things about both teams.

Mike Evans Is Legit

Mike Evans had his coming-out party against one of the top defensive secondaries in the country. He finished the game with seven catches for 279 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown reception. Evans was the go-to receiver early in the game, garnering 134 yards through the first two Texas A&M drives.

Standing at 6-foot-5, Evans has the height and jumping ability to compete against the best secondaries in the nation, as Saturday showed. If he continues this, he'll start getting his name mentioned as an All-American hopeful. He's at least earned the right to have his name mentioned in that conversation.

McCarron Cements Playmaker Status

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron has gotten the title of game manager in the Crimson Tide's last two seasons. He's shed that title for the most part, but Saturday made it official. McCarron showed he's a prime-time player.

Down 14-0 in the first quarter, coach Nick Saban put the ball in McCarron's hands and he took care of it. He led Alabama to 28 unanswered points before halftime, and Alabama never trailed again. When Texas A&M drew to within seven points in the fourth quarter, McCarron again drove his team down into the red zone. And on third down, instead of centering the ball up for a field goal attempt, he threw a touchdown to put Alabama up by 14 again.

For the game, McCarron was 20-for-29 for 334 yards and four touchdowns. He didn't throw an interception and he wasn't sacked.

Texas A&M's DL Has Issues

The Aggies were unable to get any real pressure on McCarron, only tallying one quarterback hit. They had no sacks and were generally pushed around by Alabama's offensive line. Of Alabama's 37 rushes, 23 went for five yards or more. That's not a recipe for success.

The offense is good, but if Texas A&M doesn't fix its defensive line issues, they're going to be in a lot of shootouts.

Manziel Is Talented, But Has Lots To Learn

Just because Manziel won the Heisman Trophy last year doesn't mean he knows it all. For starters, throwing an interception in the end zone after Alabama scored a game-tying touchdown was the turning point in the game. After that, Alabama went down the field and scored to take a 21-14 lead.

Even in the red zone, nothing is a given ... just ask T.J. Yeldon for the second straight year. There's no reason Manziel should have floated that ball up. Instead, he needed to be more direct with his pass, looking for Evans, who towered over the Alabama secondary.

Bama The Clear National Favorite

With the win, Alabama is officially the favorite to win the national championship (again). They have the biggest win of any team in the country thus far, with Clemson coming in a close second.

Alabama showed it was up to the challenge of Johnny Football and that no matter what, they were going to come out on top. Even when they were down 14-0 after the Aggies' second drive, the faces on the sideline showed confidence they would come back. They dealt with a deficit last year and came back, only to come up short. This year's game started out the same, but Alabama quickly regrouped and took a two-touchdown lead before halftime.

The Crimson Tide have some issues to work out on defense, especially in the secondary, but the offense was clicking on all cylinders and will be able to hang with anyone.

Still Work To Be Done

While Alabama currently is the favorite in the SEC West, the season is not even close to being over. Alabama still has LSU and Ole Miss to go and can't have any kind of letdown. SEC West teams are a combined 17-3, with two of the losses coming within the division Saturday (Texas A&M and Mississippi State, which lost to Auburn). The Bulldogs are the only team to lose outside of the SEC West, dropping the opener to a ranked Oklahoma State team.

LSU, Texas A&M and the others will be ready to pounce if there's a opening.

The way things stand, both offenses can hang a lot of points on you. But what happens if Alabama's offense isn't clicking, like what happened when the Tide played Virginia Tech?

If that happens, we could see a few upsets down the stretch.

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