Ladies and Gentlemen…… football has arrived. Even though the off-season felt like it moved along as a snails pace, this season arrived faster than I imagined after SEC Media Days. I’m not complaining at all, just stating how it feels for me. Hopefully, it will feel a good bit different from 2007.
The end of 2007, not the beginning
Yes, our first game is one of our biggest, as the Alabama Crimson Tide takes on the #9 Clemson Tigers. Nick Saban is in his 2nd year as Alabama coach, while Tommy Bowden has been wearing Clemson orange and purple for over a decade. Alabama brings a bevy of young talent, looking to make big strides in the next year or so. Clemson’s future is now, as the Tigers look to take the ACC and nation by storm.
How it this game play out? Will Alabama pull the upset? Or, will Clemson take the first step towards a BCS Bowl birth? Once again, I battle the emotions and gut instincts of being a fan and blogger. Here we go!
Reasons for my gut to say Alabama wins
- While Spiller and Davis are very talented RBs, we’ve seen tough match-ups in the backfield before in the form of McFadden and Jones. Not saying we’ll win if they get 290+ yards, but we came out with a victory then, and we do have enough players on Defense returning this year with experience against such a two-headed beast. Add in the fact that Arkansas had a better O-line, and I don’t think we will just be blown away.
- Speaking of Clemson’s O-line, I think that is a very interesting piece of the puzzle for their offense. I respect Spiller, Davis, Kelly, and Harper, but if that Spring Game means anything (a big IF sometimes), then they may have some penetration issues.
- John Parker Wilson has to break that threshold sometime before he leaves Bama for the rest of his life. He’s got the records and stats, now he needs the victories to cement a legacy.
- Another group of players in need of cementing a legacy is the Offensive Line of Alabama. Our All-SEC Center Antoine Caldwell returns, as does everyone else. Keep an eye on Andre Smith, because he could make the NFL jump after this season.
- Although I won’t crown Jim McElwain THE Offensive Coordinator of the century (mad skillz!!1!6!!) like our brethren across the state, I do think having one player caller (WITH EXPERIENCE) will work out very well for Alabama.
Reasons for my gut to say Alabama losses
- Everyone says “This is the type of game Clemson seems to lose”. I tend to disagree. The type of game Tommy Bowden might lose are those hang-over games AFTER a big match-up. They got up to #13 after smashing NC State, then flopped against Georgia Tech. We’re first up, so it isn’t like we have the benefit of Georgia Tech.
- Even though I think Spiller and Davis aren’t going to move mountains with their minds, they are a dynamic duo that you need to keep an eye on. With our inexperienced front line of Defense, I am worried about fatigue. They’ll keep the two Tigers in respectable range for most of the game, but pay attention to the 4th quarter.
- Michael Hamlin of Clemson can be a DB on a mission. Let’s hope our O-line and RBs can confuse this guy.
- Everyone spell it out: F-R-E-S-H-M-E-N!!! Yes, we’ve got a lot of future potential, but I really do worry about how they will react to a higher level of football when their first match-up is a pretty stout team.
- John Parker has a history of making great plays, only to have a major disaster in crunch time. The key is to keep the pressure away from JPW. I repeat, keep the pressure away from JPW. This new offense will spread things out, but still have some aspects that John Parker is familiar with so he doesn’t feel uncomfortable.
The main reason for Saban and company to schedule this game is recruiting and experience for our younger players. Clemson is pretty similar to SEC schools is personnel, mentality, and appearance, so this should help our young guys get an idea of what SEC play is like.
Overall, there is a lot to be gained if Alabama wins, such as national respect and a ton of momentum. That is a HUGE bonus for us in this 2008 season. If we lose, it’ll hurt for a while, but it won’t break our season. The Tigers are poised for a big season with their talent, schedule, and solid assistant coaching.
Even though I think we can win, I think our inexperience in th 4th will make it for Clemson. I’d say… 27-20 Clemson. If this was a Bowl Game or a late season match-up, I’d go with Alabama. Hurts to say it, but the Tigers will probably win.