(AP) Alabama finds plenty to improve before Texas A&M
By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer
Alabama center Ryan Kelly said the postgame mood in the locker room was subdued and players were upset with their performance in the season opener.
Never mind that the top-ranked Crimson Tide beat Virginia Tech 35-10 Saturday night. It wasn’t pristine or dominant enough, especially on offense, to satisfy the two-time defending national champions.
The offense did sputter at times during the game, when two touchdowns came on special teams and one on an interception return. The Tide likely won’t be able to afford such uneven offensive play in next week’s grudge match against Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and No. 7 Texas A&M in College Station.
Alabama has an extra week to prepare to face the only team to beat the Tide last season.
The circumstances are decidedly different from last season, when Alabama was fresh from a down-to-the-wire win over LSU with a week to prepare for Manziel and the Aggies’ fast-paced offense.
Texas A&M jumped ahead 20-0 after the first quarter en route to a 29-24 victory.
Coach Nick Saban said the Tide won’t start working on Texas A&M until Thursday’s practice, giving them two extra days “which is usually the most we do on a team.”
Cornerback John Fulton said Tide players have been hearing about this game “since we lost” last year’s meeting. Have they heard too much about it?
The offense produced only 206 yards against the Hokies, who also had four sacks. Kelly said there were some first-game jitters among the three new starting offensive linemen.
The team did have some drama on Tuesday.
Saban said he gave wide receiver Kenny Bell a “personal day” from practice on Tuesday but expected him to miss only one day.
Bell had posted on his Twitter page Tuesday afternoon that “it’s been a nice run but I’m hanging up my cleats,” saying he wanted to focus on taking care of his kids.
Later, though, he posted an update, referring to quarterback AJ McCarron: “I’m back with the team!! Just needed time to myself for a day but I couldn’t leave my boy (at)10AJMcCarron we ended this run together.”