The Obstructed Take On The Peach Bowl
Normally I do the top 5 whatever (winners/losers/questions) after the week's games. But since we're in playoff time, let's zero in a bit more on our two semifinals games. I think as a whole, the games were to most, "duds," especially the Ohio State/Clemson game where it wasn't a match but a beatdown by Clemson so I am just going to give my thoughts on the games. So we will do the Peach Bowl first. And I will make a later post of the Fiesta Bowl later.
(4) WASHINGTON VS. (1) ALABAMA, PEACH BOWL, ATLANTA, GA: ALABAMA 24, WASHINGTON 7
MEDIA & FANS ALIKE 2ND GUESSED IF ALABAMA WAS ACTUALLY LEGIT AND SOME WERE RE-THINKING ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME: I had engaged in a minor debate on Twitter with a Clemson forum page where they thought Washington would pull off the W over Alabama because the Tide had not played any good offense and any good QB outside of Chad Kelly, who torched Bama in September. However, if you sliced the numbers on a couple of QB's, notably Nick Fitzgerald of Mississippi State where he was rolling and then faced Bama's D and collapsed. Also, he fits into the dual threat QB bit where many love to point out give Alabama fits. Fitzgerald and Dobbs (though not really a runner) had massive issues with Alabama this year and both had good seasons. Add on top of it, others (notably Lee Corso) said that Washington would be the most complete team Bama would face all season. Truth be told, they were right, but Alabama wasn't necessarily chopped liver.
THE FIRST WASHINGTON TURNOVER DOOMED THE HUSKIES OFFENSE THE REST OF THE GAME: People pointed the Ryan Anderson pick six as the play that doomed the Huskies. And it might have been the backbreaker, but you have to look at the game closer. Washington had a wonderful drive against Alabama's defense, where the Tide had no answers and gave the Huskies an early 7-0 lead. After Alabama responded, the Huskies were moving the ball again. And then Ronnie Harrison strips the football from playmaker John Ross. When the fumble happened, Washington had 103 total yards of offense. The rest of the game, the Huskies had 91 total yards, 5 3-and-outs, longest one was a 28 yard drive, which was the pick six by Anderson, and just a team with no offensive rhythm.
BO SCARBROUGH HAD HIS BREAKOUT GAME: While Alabama all year still remained Alabama in the sense of running the ball with some powerhouses, it never felt the same way as it was when the Tide had Ingram, Richardson, Lacy, Yeldon, and Henry. It has been more of a committee style with Harris, Scarbrough and even Hurts moving the ball. But the Peach Bowl showed what Scarbrough could do and could be on that same level as backs as what the Tide are accustomed to seeing in the past. My lone complaint was despite the 19 carries, he should have carried it more..............which brings me to my next bit
LANE KIFFIN'S PLAYCALLING WAS THE WORST SINCE HE'S BEEN AT ALABAMA: I think he is one of the best offensive coordinators in the country and one of the best in this era, but Kiffin sometimes has this thing of out-thinking himself. The 2nd drive when Alabama went no-huddle and pounded the ball down Washington's throat while the Tide bullied the Huskies was proof of how good he can be. But then after that until Bo's big run to pretty much end it, the offense was a mess. Kiffin had some plays where when the Tide were running it, they were moving the ball. And then inexplicably, Kiffin dials up passing plays, to which at Washington's credit, waited on, and pretty much most of the Bama drives stalled in part of it. Then you got of course the screen plays that made little to no sense. If he calls those plays next week at Clemson, the Tigers get their revenge.
WASHINGTON IS A TOUGH TEAM DEFENSIVELY AND DESERVED TO BE IN THE PLAYOFF: After the games both Washington and Ohio State were ripped for not putting up a "fight" with the Tide or Tigers. But to me, at least on the Huskies standpoint it wasn't fair. Yes, the offense sputtered against Alabama, but get in line with the rest of the SEC and fellow PAC-12 rival USC. But the defense showed they were not going to be pushed around and bullied by Alabama's offense. They frustrated Hurts all game (and Hurts had a lower QB rating than Browning actually) and covered great the entire game. I think it was just the 2nd Alabama drive and the Scarbrough run that really knocked Washington off their block. And I will say this: had it been the 2014 Oregon squad facing this year's Alabama squad, Bama wins by 30. The Huskies all season showed it is to play a physical defense and try to win in the trenches and while they did not beat Alabama, you have to think they are a team to be reckoned with in the PAC-12 and in the nation for a while.
While I projected a 38-14 Alabama win where the Tide would pull away in the 2nd half, it was definitely not what I expected as Washington's defense came to play. I thought the offense of the Huskies would fare a bit better, but they struggled immensely after the first quarter. But I think it shows that Alabama can handle a "complete" team and it silences some doubters about the Tide not playing any "legit" QB. Of course, their big challenge again en route to another championship will have to go through Watson & Clemson. But if that defense learned from last year and if the offense rebounds for Alabama, #17 is not hard to imagine.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat