The Gut and I: Colorado

It comes down to this…. win, and you get some momentum going into recruiting and the 2008 season. Lose, and it’ll be the first time Alabama has had back-to-back losing seasons since Ears Whitworth was in Tuscaloosa in the early 1950’s. Colorado is the opponent, a scrappy team from the Big 12. Can Alabama overcome a late season meltdown? Or, will the Tide fall to another opponent in a game we’re favored to win? One thing is for sure, it will be tough no matter the outcome.

The Reason for my gut to say Alabama wins

  • We finally have the nucleus of our Offensive Line together long enough to actually prepare for a game. Yes, we had them for Auburn, but they had not done any real football play for about 4 weeks.
  • We’ve had a few weeks to clear our heads of whatever has been affecting us in such a negative way. Football is a physical game, but it is a mental game as well.
  • D.J. Hall will get Colorado’s beat man on defense, but the rest of that CU defense is a bit questionable at times.
  • Cody Hawkins is a talented QB, but he is still rather young.
  • Our Special Teams seem to be back in order. Javier Arenas is back (well, 80% back), and Leigh Tiffin has rebounded nicely after the Arkansas game in 2006.
  • It’s a chance to avoid 6-7 again. Hopefully, our guys will be all business since this is a repeat trip to Shreveport.

Reasons for my gut to say Alabama loses

  • John Parker Wilson has a QB rating of 111.9, which is 11th out of the 12 full-time starters in the SEC. He also had 1 TD and 5 INTs during our 4 game losing streak.
  • Our running game just cannot seem to get over the hump at times. We really need Grant, Coffee, and Upchurch to burn up some major yardage.
  • Our thin defense may have to suffer through yet another long game if our offense is to do what they usually do, which is stink.
  • Colorado is probably in a better mood than we are since they scored 65 points in their last game. (sure, it was Nebraska, but that is still impressive).
  • Colorado did beat Oklahoma for a reason. They caused turnovers (and let OU hurt themselves) in order to win. We’re extremely good at hurting ourselves.
  • The fanbase just isn’t into this match-up. We hardly heard anything all week long about this game in the press, on the message boards, and even on this blog. Something doesn’t feel right…

It’s going to be a tense time for me in watching this game. I don’t know if I can handle yet another let down after so much promising play in the early part of the year. I think we can definitely beat a team like Colorado if we play like we actually want to win. The only question is can we actually achieve that? The players said they’ve had some of the best practices all year long. Well, I hope this is true, because if we come out and loaf around again, I will be one unhappy person.

If we do end up with a loss, I know most people will either try and excuse this season away, or become way too angry. I know this season has been disappointing since we thrashed Tennessee, there is no other way to describe it. But, we can’t automatically start screaming in blind rage, much like a Jim from Tuscaloosa on the Finebaum show. The staff and this team really did underachieve, but we can’t give up on people just yet.

Some of you might end up angry because there will be critics who will say things like “Alabama paid $4 million for another 6-6 season! Just like Shula!” That really doesn’t bug me too much anyways since every single one of these people would never take Shula over Saban as their coach. They’re unfamiliar with the situation, and seem to take a perverse pleasure in finding problems with how Alabama handles itself.

So in the end, this season is a big downer, and there are no excuses. But, we’re still going to prove how much better off we really are in years to come. Say what you will, but I will not let go of my optimism for the future.

Game is at 7:00 pm cst on ESPN. Enjoy and Roll Tide!

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Iron Bowl Review

It is what it is folks. Give Auburn credit, they played a heck of a game defensively. Both Wilson and Cox actually played similar games (rushed for TDs, threw 1 INT each, and had around 115 yards passing each). But, defensive battles like these usually come down to who makes the fewest mistakes. The refs stunk for both sides, but we had other opportunities to make some offensive plays (D.J. easy catch that was bobbled comes to mind).

This defense gets an A for their performance this season. They were among the thinnest in the SEC in terms of depth, and Saban got these guys playing extremely well. They were forced to play so many minutes this season, and they did a good job with what they had.

The same cannot be said for the offense. With a decent amount of talent returning, they reverted back to their previous form of years past with sad performances after scoring 41 on UT (12, 14, & 10 points in the last 3 games). The Textbook situation hurt us more than most people may admit. Without those guys, people like Chris Capps and Terry Grant had to play more minutes than they should have. This led to constant position changes in the O-line and Grant being hurt for Auburn since he took such a beating as the main runner.

As for coaching, I would say both head coaches called pretty similar games to be honest with you. Home field advantage mixed with good Senior leadership in key positions won this game for the Tigers. Obviously, we have to win in Tuscaloosa next season. Auburn will have a rookie QB with a group of average at best receivers. Their strength will be to run, run, run, with Burns and Tate…. maybe Fannin too. I don’t know what kind of passer Burns really is, but I imagine he’ll try to run more. Auburn fans hope for him to be another Tim Tebow, but I highly doubt it. He’ll do well, but Tim Tebow is in a league of his own right now.

Recruiting must be priority #1 for Alabama this season. Coach Saban will be able to offer immediate playing time for many different positions in 2008, meaning that we should work hard on the top talent. Julio Jones is rumored to be a slight Alabama lean, so we need to keep out best recruiters on him. With Brown and Hall graduating, there will be plenty of time for Jones to play in ’08. We gotta keep him from FSU, LSU, and Auburn to a certain extent.

John Parker Wilson played about as well as he could with almost no blocking. Caldwell and the other Textbookers looked lost out there half the time. ESPN noticed this, taking the time to give us a replay of every time Caldwell and others got confused and never blocked anybody.

So basically, here is what I think of this game if you want to skip all of what I said above: Auburn didn’t win because of fancy play calling, superstar athletes, or extra prep time. Auburn won because they didn’t make as many mistakes, which is what it takes to win big time games like this one. I don’t view this as an excuse, I view this as a major part of every single game out there: if you make the fewest mistakes, chances are good for a victory. It’s called leadership and discipline. Congrats Tigers, we’ll see ya on the recruiting trail.

Let’s take a look at a few other games and situations.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Gut and I: Auburn

I’m trying my hardest to stay positive about this game today, but it’s easier said than done. If Alabama wants to feel good about their bowl chances, we have to win this game on the road in Auburn. Tuberville will probably address the Texas A&M rumors sometime after the game since Fran just resigned after beating Texas. This is the biggest game of the year, as it should be. Is it a game with national implications? No, not really. Will it affect who goes to the SEC title game? No. Does it matter more than any other game this season. You bet it does. This post may be a bit of a downer for you Tide fans:

The Reason for my gut to say Alabama wins

Anything can happen, especially this season. I remember how Tyler Watts practiced all week long, only to have Andrew Zow play in the game in 2001, our last Iron Bowl win. Truly a special performance for a QB many wanted to label as a bust. John Parker Wilson comes into this game with a worse reputation than Zow at this point. He needs a big time road win in this series to gain back some of that respect he had after then Tennessee game. I don’t think he can do it, but it sure would be nice.

Reasons for my gut to say Alabama loses

  • It’s in Auburn and we just lost to a commuter school.
  • It will be wet and raining…. that is never good for teams with turnover problems.
  • We can’t seem to stop Groves no matter what we do (although not playing Chris Capps is a start).
  • Three good RBs for the Tigers.
  • Brandon Cox can lead some big time last quarter drives for big results.
  • Tuberville got embarrassed two weeks ago. He usually coaches better after such poor performances.
  • Because we’ve never been able to win games like this in the past with this group of players.

In the end, I think it’ll either be very close, or an embarrassment. Auburn will probably win, but I wouldn’t be totally shocked (ok, I would be shocked) if Alabama could pull this one off. Tiger fans want to have some sort of repudiation of Nick Saban, although trying to claim it in his first year might not be the best example of it. I think Saban realizes the importance of rivalry games, as shown against Tennessee. He needs this game right now, almost as much as Tuberville does (although Tubby’s reason is for more contract money more than anything else). Still, anything can happen, which I’m hoping on. The underdog rarely wins in this series, but I sure would like to see it happen just one more time down in Auburn. Roll Tide!!!!

Iron Bowl Advice

I’m leaving at noon today for Charlotte, so I won’t be posting for the rest of the day since it’ll take about 8 hours (depending on Atlanta traffic….ugh). But, I will leave you with a few words of semi-wisdom for the big Iron Bowl game this weekend.

#1: If a guy wearing Orange and Blue tells you to “Hold that Tiger”, just laugh and play along with a big Roll Tide. If a strange looking guy in nothing but a trench coat asks you to “Hold that, Tiger” run away and find the next police officer you see.

#2: Enjoy yourself with a good tailgating experience. Bring hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, coke, whatever you feel like. Enjoy the local Auburn food and zesty condiments.

#3: Take in some of the food, sites, and other areas I recommended earlier in my travel guide series. Some of it could be wet since it is going to rain this weekend.

#4: Enjoy halftime. Both MDB and the AUMB work hard all year long, and I imagine they’ll save their best for last since this is the Iron Bowl.

#5: Stay safe. Roll Tide and enjoy Thanksgiving!

Saban’s Iron Bowl Theory

Simply…. genius. Saban knows two things: 1) How to develop a set of words that always capture the essence of the topic at hand. 2) That Tuberville has the tendency to lose a game he’s expecting a win every once in a while. Saban is sandbagging folks! It appears that at least one Auburn fan isn’t falling for it.

Simply amazing idea Coach!

Here is what I assume Coach Saban is basing this on:

  • Auburn tends to lose more home games than road games since 2006.
  • Tuberville has a history of losing games that most Auburn fans expect to win. (I know, it is a repeated point)
  • Alabama will have the advantage of coming in under the radar in terms of an actual threat, hopefully causing many Auburn fans to drink an almost lethal dose of alcohol partying for their pre-victory party. Once they get into the stands, they shall be drunk and sleepy, taking out a large portion of the crowd at kick-off.
  • Brandon Cox is a nice guy. I’m sure he’ll help a fellow QB out by showing him that everyone makes a mistake or two. By appealing to Cox’s nice side, JPW will finally be able to come out and show the real JP Wilson! *I almost choked from laughing while typing this one*
  • Because he’s Nick Saban. If he wants to will his team to a lack-luster loss, it must be done!
  • He’s got basketball season to compete with.
  • Because…. just because, ok? I can’t think of any sarcastic jokes.

ROLL TIDE YOU TIDE PRIDERS!!!! WOOO!!!!!

It didn’t happen, it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen…

The Apology Post

“We won’t lose…” (my game post)

I would like to make a few apologies. First, I apologize to the people who read this blog. I didn’t realize that we’re doomed to lose every game in November when it counts (or when it doesn’t count). ULM had a cruddy 4-6 record coming into today, making this the worst lose since Central Florida (Northern Illinois at least beat other BCS teams). I apologize for acting like this game didn’t matter, acting as if all we had to do was show up. If I gave you too much false confidence, I am sorry. I also failed to continue my copying of Todd in the embarrassing admissions area, so I’m sorry yet again. My hubris was unwarranted.

I would like to apologize to Mississippi State. Yes, you did beat us fair and square. The reason for this apology is because we just devalued your victory against us…. by a good bit actually. Sure, Arkansas beat you. But, we were supposed to be one of your biggest wins this season, and we failed to produced.

I apologize to Auburn. I’m sorry your 6th victory in a row won’t be much of a challenge. What makes this rivalry special is a competitive environment, which we won’t be able to hold up our end of the bargain yet again. I just hope we can keep the score within 14 points.

I apologize to the SEC as a whole. That best conference in the land arguement? Yeah, we (Alabama) really shot ourselves (The SEC) in the foot on this one. There is no reason we should’ve lost to such an inferior team, but we came out lacking any form of intensity whatsoever. We embarrassed ourselves and in turn brought a black eye to the conference as a whole.

I apologize to the Bowls with SEC tie-ins. You want a good, competitive match-up with fan bases that will want to travel there. Alabama fans will always travel, but your game could be a blow out if we continue to perform like this post-LSU team.

I would like to apologize to the team (yes, OUR team). Even though you and the coaches will be criticized (the coaches more than you, as it should be on this one), I would like to say I am sorry for the total lack of energy at the game today. We came in thinking this would be a blow out, so we showed up with the same attitude that you played with. We payed money for these tickets, so we do get to vent our frustration on the radio shows for a little bit, but we didn’t do anything to make it difficult on ULM until it was too late. I was there, I sat down with the rest of them. People booed, and that is always sad. I will never boo my own team.

I apologize to the readers one more time. I will actually be out of town from Wednesday until Sunday, so I won’t be posting very often. It’s not because of this game (although the timing is funny), I’ve been planning to visit my sister for Thanksgiving for a while now, so we’re leaving when classes are done for the week. I’ll promise I’ll do what I can when I can find a wireless signal.

What am I feeling right now? A range of feelings really. It turned from rage, to depression, to what is now apathy. It’s probably better this way, since my angry posts don’t seem to flow very well. These players certainly have an attitude issue that has carried over from previous years, but Saban has had plenty of time to at least get them over it long enough to beat a team as bad as ULM. Sure, the Warhawks have a respectable offense, but their defense averages 30 points per game, and we barely got 14.

I don’t know what the coaches and team captains need to do to get these guys to wake up, but they need to do it quickly. I won’t be complaining about $4 million dollars or certain play calls, because we’ve moved past that in terms if issues we must face. This team has a serious flaw, and we must fix that before we can move on as a program. Saban is a great coach, and has been recruiting as if his life depends on it (#3 on Rivals, #7 on Scout), but this late season collapse is unexplainable and inexcusable. Is he better than Shula? Yes, but today he let his team give up on him, much like Mike. I still believe he’s the best coach for this program right now, but he did mess up on this one.

John Parker Wilson did he usual thing. He had yet another costly turnover that resulted in an easy 7 for ULM (from the 1 yard line). He lets his passes sail, and he just doesn’t seem to be able to lead this offense when necessary. Still, this TEAM has a problem, not just JPW.

How should one put this into perspective? It’s the Gardner-Webb loss of the football season for Alabama, if not worse. Good night, and Roll Tide.

The Gut and I: ULM

Kick-off is at 1:30 pm. There will be no TV or Pay-per-view, so I suggest you get to know Eli Gold and Kenny Stabler really well as you snuggle up close to your radio dial.

You, me, and Eli making a 2nd & 7 sound like a 1st & Goal.

Reasons for my gut to say Alabama WINS

  • The defense has been playing very good these last few games when you consider the possible mismatches.
  • D.J. Hall is always able to burn a bad defense.
  • Speaking of their defense…. they give up over 30 points a game.
  • It’s Senior Day!!!
  • John Parker Wilson has something to prove (again)
  • Because we’re Alabama, and they are Louisiana-Monroe (arrogance? Maybe, but it’s the truth).

Reasons for my gut to say Alabama LOSSES

We won’t lose, so I’ll start with areas where we might not look so hot:

  • ULM has an impress Running back that ran all over us last season.
  • Our running game is too small right now, so I doubt you’ll see them knocking people over.
  • Other than D.J. Hall, our receivers have not been playing extremely well.
  • JPW still might be in a funk come kick-off.
  • The O-line will have Chris Capps in as a starter….. *shutters*
  • Our punter is not going to place the ball anyplace close to where you need it.

Alabama will probably give up 2 TDs and a FG, but we should be able to score around 40 points. I wouldn’t be shocked if it were something like 44-17 in favor of the Tide.