The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

September 16, 2013

In aftermath of 'Bama-A&M, calm and perspective

— COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — The worst defensive performance in the history of Alabama football, at least according to the stat sheet, was no reason for Nick Saban to panic.

Scoring 42 points and putting up 628 yards against the No. 1 team in the country — and losing — was not the way Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin expected the most-hyped game of the young college football season to play out.

"Nobody probably saw that coming," he said.

Now that it's over, both teams can get back to the seemingly mundane business of playing out the rest of their schedules and trying to win a championship or two.

For Saban and his Crimson Tide players, there almost seemed to be a sense of relief that it was over and they had survived another go-round with uncanny Johnny Manziel and the Aggies' prolific offense.

"We did not play as well on defense against some very good players," Saban said. "When you don't fundamentally do things the way you're supposed to you usually pay the price. We were trying to rush five guys and keep Manziel in the pocket and (Aggies receiver Mike Evans) had his way with us."

Did he ever.

Manziel drew the headlines with a career-high 464 yards passing and 562 total yards, the second-best performance in Southeastern Conference history. Evans was almost as impressive. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound sophomore caught seven passes for a school-record 279 yards.

Alabama tried to pay more attention to the middle of the field to keep Manziel from scrambling and making big plays. But that left them vulnerable on the outside to Evans. Making matters worse, the Tide played the second half without cornerback Deion Belue, who was out with a toe injury on his right foot.

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