As strange as it might seem for Alabama's defense to ever admit being not good enough to stop an opponent, that seemed to be the case when it came to the Aggies.
"It was a lot of work chasing around Manziel," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "We expected Manziel to move around the pocket to make plays, and he did what he did."
Saban can take comfort in knowing that Alabama is done with Manziel — maybe forever as he could jump to the NFL next season — and there is no offense even close to the Aggies' left on the Tide's schedule. Alabama gave up 628 yards, the most it's ever allowed. Saban can use it as a teaching moment, knowing that while his defense was shredded it was not necessarily exposed.
The Aggies' defensive issues are more problematic. The defense had struggled against Rice and Sam Houston State, but the hope was that the return of some key players from suspension — including senior linebacker Steven Jenkins — would help against Alabama.
It didn't. AJ McCarron passed for 334 yards and T.J. Yeldon ran for 149 as the Tide had its way on offense.
"We've got to get some things shored up in our front defensively," Sumlin said. "We'll be fine schematically. We've got to get our guys playing a little bit better."
Much like Saban, Sumlin could take solace in knowing it will get no tougher for his team than it did Saturday. And he can be encouraged that his team didn't fold when the Tide rolled out to a 35-14 third-quarter lead.
"We just played a really good football team. There's a reason they're the No. 1 team. I was proud of the effort," Sumlin said. "We didn't always do everything right. Nobody can say that this team quit."