published Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Third quarter Tide downfall

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (10) is stopped short of the goal line as Texas A&M defensive lineman Kirby Ennis (42) pursues during the second half of an NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (10) is stopped short of the goal line as Texas A&M defensive lineman Kirby Ennis (42) pursues during the second half of an NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dominating the fourth quarter has long been a goal in football, but it's the third quarter where Alabama could use the most work.

In Saturday's 29-24 loss to Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide rebounded from a 20-0 deficit after the first quarter to close the first half down just 20-14. Alabama held the Aggies to minus-6 yards on their first six second-half plays, but the Crimson Tide failed to make much noise offensively.

Alabama went three-and-out on its opening second-half possession and settled for a field goal on its next drive.

"We've discussed it and talked about it and talked about it before this game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I think we need to always have something that's a little bit different that we can go to, because people are going to make adjustments at halftime to what you've been doing. We got a couple of stops on defense at the start of the second half but lost momentum because we couldn't move the ball.

"That's something we need to work on and improve, and there is no reason for us not to be able to execute better when we come out in the third quarter."

In its last seven games, Alabama has managed just 13 total points in the third quarter. The Crimson Tide played a scoreless third quarter against Mississippi State two weeks ago and were outscored 7-0 in the third last week at LSU after grabbing a 14-3 lead right before the half.

The streak ends

When Texas A&M linebacker Sean Porter intercepted quarterback AJ McCarron on Alabama's second possession of the game, it ended McCarron's streak of consecutive passes without an interception at 292. McCarron threw over the middle for Kenny Bell, but Bell was rocked and the ball was snagged by Porter.

McCarron's streak, which dated back to last season's game at Mississippi State, was the second-longest in SEC history, trailing only the 325 straight Kentucky's Andre' Woodson compiled during the 2006 and '07 seasons. His final pass Saturday was intercepted as well, giving him a streak of zero entering this week's game against Western Carolina.

A tired Tide?

Alabama's schedule has been easier than expected this season due to Michigan and Arkansas not being as strong as projected, but playing LSU and Texas A&M back-to-back took its toll.

"It seemed like earlier in the week we were pretty good, but later in the week we couldn't seem to get the mental energy and intensity that we needed to play against this kind of team," Saban said.

Said center Barrett Jones: "I don't think it was a hangover. I just think you forget how you got there."

Tide tidbits

Alabama has lost at home each of the past three years -- Auburn in 2010, LSU last year and Texas A&M on Saturday. ... Freshman Amari Cooper had six receptions for 136 yards, his second 100-yard game this season. ... Junior Cody Mandell averaged 56.5 yards on four punts and had two that traveled 60 yards. ... Alabama had allowed six first-quarter points all season before yielding 20 to the Aggies. ... Former Baylor School and Alabama golfer Brooke Pancake was recognized for her accomplishments after the first quarter.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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