cheap moncler Alabama head coach Nick Saban talks with Alabama quarterback Blake Sims (6) during the second quarter of the Alabama at Arkansas football game, Saturday, October 11, 2014, at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark. (Vasha Huntfirstname.lastname@example.org)
-- Everything looked so easy. That's because it was.
Blake Sims dropped back, Amari Cooper created a few yards of space between him and a soft-covering cornerback and the rest was simple pass, catch and run. When Florida tightened up on the line of scrimmage, Sims dropped back a little farther, Cooper ran a little farther and -- because Florida's coverage in the back end left plenty to desire -- it was still simple passing, catching and running.
There's just been nothing simple about moving the ball in the past two games.
Defenses have adjusted their coverage plans to not only eliminate the short and easy throws that allowed Cooper to pile up big yards after the catch, but also have made deep throws a challenge. Cooper still finished with nine receptions for 91 yards against Ole Miss, but he had to earn every single one of them. Against Arkansas, he was repeatedly targeted despite heavy coverage and finished with two catches for 22 yards, his worst performance in the past 13 games.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said Arkansas challenged Alabama to run the ball and, on that particular night, the Crimson Tide couldn't do it. Improving a stagnant running game is among Alabama's top to-dos Saturday against Texas A M but so, too, is rejuvenating a passing attack that's looked potent when it's clicking but predictable when it's not.
"We have to throw the ball more effective in other ways and utilize as many people as we need to because we have confidence in all of our receivers and our tight ends and our backs that they can be effective in the passing game," Saban said. "I just think it's more important for us to go back to the basics of what we need to do to execute and make better judgments, choices and decisions of how we distribute the ball and we'll be just fine."
Cooper has accounted for nearly half of the catches (54) made and yards amassed (768) by anyone on Alabama's roster. Anyone who's made a mid-season All-American list has included Cooper, who is truly having a special season and will continue to be fedno matter what kind of defense Alabama is facing.
Saban just wants to see more consistent production from Alabama's other receivers, such as DeAndrew White, Christion Jones, while also seeing better awareness from Sims, who repeatedly forced the ball to Cooper in dangerous situations against the Razorbacks.
"It's important that we make good decisions about how we distribute the ball, where we distribute the ball and when it gets distributed so that we're not holding the ball in the pocket and stress the protection," Saban said. "That's a team thing. We've got to do a better job with protection. The route runner's got to do a better job of having the right timing and running the right routes, and then the quarterback's got to get the ball out on time."
White, who missed two games with a shoulder injury, and Jones have combined to catch 27 passes for 308 yards and a touchdown. White led the way with four catches against Arkansas and had the game-winning touchdown but went without a catch against Ole Miss. Jones has caught just two passes for 21 yards in Alabama's three SEC games.
Running back Kenyan Drake remains second on the team in receiving yards (159) even though he's been out for the season since the second quarter of the Ole Miss game. Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, both of whom said during the preseason they'd be more involved in the passing game this year, have a combined eight catches for 127 yards.
After going without a catch in Alabama's first three games, tight end O.J. Howard has emerged as a big-play threat of sorts with receptions of 53 and 47 yards in the past two games, respectively. He has six catches for 150 yards on the season.
"I feel like everybody on our offense, when the ball is thrown their way and their number's called, we have to make a play," said Howard, who has also had a couple of pivotal drops. "That makes our offense very successful and allows Coop and the other players to get the ball more.
"If everybody else catches it, you can't double team just one person."
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