Alabama wins 24-20

That was ugly, but an SEC win is always big. Stats are available at ESPN.com, but these numbers are all that matter: 7-0 (4-0 SEC), 45-9-2 against Ole Miss, 5 straight over the Rebs, and Saban moves to 6-1 against them fine Hoddy Toddy folks.

Congrats to Ole Miss and Houston Nutt for that comeback. I have to admit, even though we all like to have some fun at HN’s expense, I hate playing any team he fields. You’re always in for a tight game with that man on the other sideline.

I won’t go into great detail about how bad that 2nd half looked, but here are my thoughts expressed in one picture:

The Gut and I: Alabama vs. Ole Miss

This game is really hard to get a hand on for a number of reasons. Both teams are coming off of bye weeks. Both bye weeks follow lackluster performances, which follow a week where both squads beat Top 5 teams on the road. Alabama is #2 in both polls, while Ole Miss has had an up and down season comparable to only the U.S. Stock Market.

I could go on. But, as Houston Nutt would say during a boring movie, Let’s just skip to the funny part!

Picture via Gate 21. No disrespect to HN of course.

Reasons for my gut to say Alabama wins

  • The Rebs don’t like it when other teams decided to actually pass the ball. They made Chris Smelley look like Peyton Manning, so we can only hope John Parker Wilson turns into Tom Brady.
  • Alabama is coming off of a poor performance, but an SEC win nonetheless. A week off was needed due to a grueling schedule during the first half of the season. A fresh mentality should hopefully lead to a good victory for Bama.
  • I know they are touting that Wild Rebel stuff, but this only shows that they cannot beat us if they line up and play standard, smash mouth SEC football. We have to force them to play our game, something we’ve been able to do pretty well during the first 6 games.
  • Ole Miss beat Florida with some fortunate turnovers and some nice moves by McCluster. If we keep the football in our hands (lookin’ at you, Glen), then we should be fine.
  • Our D-line is one of the best in the nation. They might try to trick us on these constant trick plays, but they surely can’t beat us up the gut.

Reasons for my gut to say Alabama losses

  • For some reason, Houston seems to get a lot going his way durin these types of games. I don’t know if he has a football version of the farmer’s almanac, but he certainly has a history of making big statements at just the right time. Of course, he’ll probably drop a few more SEC games due to an inconsistent coaching style, but he his a threat against ranked opponents.
  • I still worry about Alabama’s Special Teams. Tiffin has missed a few big FGs, and we really seem to give up big returns on kick-offs and punt returns. If McCluster is allowed to return a Touchdown, we’re making it much harder than it needs to be.
  • Ole Miss has had success against other team’s turnovers, and Glen Coffee had a few issues with that against Kentucky. Keep the ball in your hands please.
  • Jevan Snead has a very good arm, and our Secondary and overall Pass D has given me moments of concern. If we are to have a breakdown on this side of the ball, it will be in this area.
  • We don’t have enough deep talent to make up for early mistakes and a tired 1st string. We also need to keep our focus. If we lose our focus, hello 2007.

Ole Miss can win this game is they come with more intensity than Alabama. If we’re evenly matched in that department, Bama will end up winning the game. We just have to stick to our assignments, play physical football, and keep our foots on the gas if given the opportunity. Ole Miss is very capable of covering the spread (around 13 points…. I think). Alabama should win, 27-17.

The Crimson & White Roundtable- Host Edition

I’m back, and I’ve brought the CWR with me!

I will perform the hosting duties this week, which hasn’t happened since I first started organizing this Roundtable forum. It seemed like so long ago….

Remember when this guy used to coach? Talk about forever-ago!

Since last week was an idle weekend, I decided it would be best to avoid the standard questions concerning Bama’s last performance. Therefore, this week’s set of questions is rather short and simple. I have been known to over analyze certain situations in order to have something to talk about, so this could start to sound like the inconsistent rambling of a crazy man. Let’s overreact!

1. What are your feelings on Alabama’s current position in the polls? Are we Overrated? Underrated? Just right?

It is probably for the best that Alabama isn’t ranked #1 right now. While I would like to see it for the first time in years, that is more added pressure than I am comfortable with right now. We’re about to play a team that beat a top 5 squad on the road and Tennessee. I know the Vols have been down recently, but you never know what’ll happen in a rivalry game.

2. Kentucky’s Defensive Line gave Alabama an afternoon of problems. Considering that Ole Miss is said to have a better D-Line, is there a cause for concern, or our we just over-reacting to a tired team’s performance?

Even though some will automatically say “no, they were just tired”, I thought this would be a good question to make others sit back and consider the fact that injuries could really mess up our Offensive Line.

Think about the Andre Smith injury, and the mini-hold fest he had once he came back into the game with a tweaked elbow. You also should remember the Tulane game when Andre and Marlon Davis were both injured. This is a squad we really need to stay healthy for our offense to continue to play well. Hopefully, game changing injuries won’t happen again*knocks on wood repeatedly*.

Big Andre will carry this offense whether they like it or not.

If injuries do start to take their toll on our physical O-line, then bad things could start to happen to both the offense and defense. We’ve got talent on the 1st team, but we’re mighty thin when it comes to the 2nd string on down. The offense could start to sputter, forcing the defense onto the field longer that we would like. They’ll get tired, and could possibly break down towards the end of games.

Maybe I’m just an overly cautious guy, but I do think my concerns are legit.

3. What part of Alabama’s team concerns you against Ole Miss? Likewise, what aspect of the game should Alabama control?

With the domination of Clemson, Arkansas, and Georgia, most people have spoken very little of the problems we’ve had when it comes to Pass Defense. Clemson had no O-line, so it really never showed up, but it has given us a few problems from game 2 on. Matthew Stafford is going to get his stats no matter where you go, but they certainly were able to make the game much tighter with an impressive air assault. Even Mike Hartline of Kentucky looked fairly good when he was handing the ball to Rolando McClain is terror.

Jevan Snead is one of the better QBs in the country, so we better be prepared to see the guy tossing the ball around as much as he can…. whenever Nutt isn’t running his Wild Tecmo-Cat-Hog-Rebel formation.

I got a TD!…. Did that dude just wet himself?

If our Pass Defense has been a tad bit suspect, our Run Defense has been the Steel Curtain. Mount Cody and crew have been shutting down top back after top back, and I’m not sold on any Ole Miss Offensive Lineman not named Michael Oher having the ability to stop them.

If we can stop Spiller, Davis, and Moreno, then we can stop most anybody in the country (in theory).

Alabama Wins 17-14

Yeah, that wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve ever seen. Still, any SEC win is huge if you want to do well in the conference standings. Kentucky certainly did not back down for a full 4 quarters, and that deserves a hat tip to Rich Brooks, Mike Hartline, and whoever else played a key role in that performance.

Alabama had around 400 yards of offense, and only scored 10 offensive points. The cause can be tied to many mistakes by Alabama’s offense and special teams. What helped us out were 1 lucky roll after a mistake, and a case of butterfingers by Hartline. Those two plays kept this from becoming a much tougher game for the home team.

Saban’s reaction to the end of the game reflects the feelings of the entire Alabama fan base.

Yet the odd thing about this win was that the players with the biggest mistakes were able to bounce back and win the game for Alabama. Glenn Coffee had a case of the fumbles, but racked up a Touchdown and 218 yards on the ground. Leigh Tiffin missed 2 FGs, but hit the eventual game winner with 2 minutes to go. The O-line had too many holds for such a veteran group, but they provided the huge holes that gave Alabama that critical 8 minute drive for the last FG. Yes, our offense stunk it up in the 2nd half, but they did what it took on that monster FG drive, which included a midfield 4th down conversion.

It is now clear that Alabama has 3 critical issues that will come back to haunt the Tide later on in the year. They include: inconsistent Quarterback play, depth concerns, and poor Special Teams play. I’ll have more on that later in the week.

The rest of the SEC was good, but not great. Still, the Auburn-Vanderbilt game was a bit shocking. Even though the ‘Dores are ranked, nobody expected them to beat a much more physical and faster Auburn squad. Tiger fans are extremely unhappy about their current situation, so I imagine Tuberville will “encourage” Franklin to quietly send out his resume to non-BCS schools.

Arkansas fans must really be hurting right now. I hope they take some solace in the fact that it wasn’t a bad as the score indicated. Yes, they hung pretty tough for 3+ quarters.

Congrats to South Carolina and Tuscaloosa native Chris Smelley. Some say this was the law of averages for Nutt, but Ole Miss certainly has plenty of holes to fill. You should still give them a lot of respect, because they are dangerous enough to take advantage of a sloppy offense with multiple turnovers (see Florida from last week). I hope we got our turnovers out of us against Kentucky.

I want a grand finish to this post, but I’ve got nothing. Roll Tide.

Random Thoughts Meandering Through My Head

If you had told me we’d be 5-0 after the Georgia game, I probably would’ve ran screaming about a loose crazy man bothering me with wild allegations about Alabama football. But here we are as the #2/#4 team in the nation. Can you say signature win? I think Saban just wrote his name on Athens. The players worked hard, and deserve to enjoy this victory while they can.

Celebrate until the Kentucky film arrives

So here are a few thoughts/observations about Saturday’s game:

  • We’ve all been extremely critical of John Parker Wilson over the years, but give the man the game ball for his performance. He went 13 of 16 for 205 yards and 1 TD, managing the game better than anybody could’ve predicted. The yardage and TD pass don’t shock me, but it usually came from a 15 of 35 performance with very little ground support.
  • Hats off to Georgia and their fans for not giving up. 99% of the stadiums in America would’ve been half empty after a 31-0 deficit at the half, but the Blackout crowd stuck around and played a factor.
  • I don’t mean to take away from a good performance from A.J. Green, but can the critics of Julio stop claiming how much better Green is compared to Jones? Julio had more yardage with a TD and 0 turnovers. Green made a rookie mistake, and Jones played a very good game. Green is still an amazing player, but let’s relax on the glorification of the guy.
  • Matthew Stafford is probably the best overall QB in the SEC right now. He had some rough times, but he carried that team down the field without the help of Moreno to score 23 second half points on offense. I’m not the first to say this, but he really does remind me of John Elway.
  • The Defensive Line was great again, although Georgia’s Freshman Center certainly held his own. It was nice to keep Moreno a non-factor for a majority of the night.

I could say more, but there is so much to get ready for this week. The Kentucky Wildcats come to town, and they are far from pushovers. They ride into Tuscaloosa 4-0, having scored just as many points on Western Kentucky as Alabama did. Respect Rich Brooks, respect their Defense, and respect their fans.

The Gut and I: Alabama vs Georgia

Well, Lee Corso has picked us, which usually leads to bad things. This only adds to yet another list of reasons as to why I think we’ll lose… much like last year.

only pic I could find

I know some are feeling fairly confident, and I certainly don’t blame them. We have nothing to lose this week because we have all chalked this up as a lose before the season started. But, I still prefer coming in as an underdog if we are going to have a shot.

Reasons for my gut to say Alabama wins

  • We’ve got a very experienced Offensive Line. Hopefully, they’ll perform as they have throughout the season.
  • Mark Ingram has the ability to carry a pile of players for extra yardage.
  • Bama’s D-line is very good in the middle.
  • Javier Arenas is as deadly on Interceptions as he is on Punt Returns.
  • Saban’s ability to keep the team focused has worked thus far, let’s hope it continues.

Reasons for my gut to say Alabama losses

  • Matt Stafford > Casey Dick
  • Our pass defense was not impressive at all last week. Georgia has more skill position players than Arkansas.
  • I think our Receivers will be great in time, but we’ve only gotten performances out of Julio and Walker the TE.
  • Moreno is the real deal, and could be a threat on the outside.
  • John Parker typically does not perform well on the road.

All things considered, I’m giving the edge to Georgia. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised by any result in this game, so this could be yet another memorable experience. After all, Ole Miss is giving Florida a game, and Oregon State did beat USC. Shall another Top 5 go down? I hope so, but I think Georgia wins by about a Touchdown. 24-17.

The Gut and I: Alabama vs. Tulane

It’s the battle of the Tide and the Wave! Which water based team can pull through?

Alabama comes into the weekend 1-0, ranked 13th and 17th respectively. Most thought we wouldn’t be in this position, but that is now irrelevant as we have 11 more games to finish for this season. Plus, we need to be excited for our home opener.

In comes Tulane, a school displaced because of Hurricane Gustav. Certainly a tough situation for this New Orleans school. Yet even though I agree we should cheer for them and avoid anything close to a Rammer Jammer, I hope to see our team run all over them in order to get past a very low point in 2007.

Reasons for my gut to say Alabama wins

  • We might just be on a bit of a hot streak.
  • Much more talent for the Crimson Tide.
  • Nick Saban is the better coach compared to Bob Toledo.
  • Tulane is missing both of their top offensive threats last season, leaving Tulane fairly young.
  • MOTIVATION!

Reasons for my gut to say Alabama losses

  • I’ll never say never again in this type of post after that ULM debacle.
  • Toledo is 2-0 against Bama from his UCLA days, so he has experience beating the Crimson Tide.
  • We’ve had habits of just going through the motions, and letting smaller teams play well. That should not happen, and there is no excuse for letting it happen this season.

This is Alabama’s first step to moving past that horrible performance from the end 2007.  We need to stay careful, and need to realize we still have to prove ourselves. I think Alabama can do it by about 20+ points…. if we come out ready to go. Alabama wins it 34-12.

Crimson and White Roundtable: Redux

It has been placed upon me to continue the Roundtable, something I do with great honor and pride…. mostly for visits though.

After such a performance on Saturday, it seems like a very good time to gather together and gauge the feelings of the Alabama fans and bloggers. We won a game that few thought we could win, something that has to put a smile to everyone’s face. We haven’t had a time to smile like this since last year’s Tennessee beat down, so enjoy it.

Good times for one and all… in Crimson

Since it is rather short notice due to scheduling, I will understand if others cannot participate this week. If you can’t, we’ll all understand. Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep things rolling on an continual basis.

1) Due to that colossal victory over a Top 10 team in Clemson, Alabama has shot up in the polls (13th in AP and 17th in Coaches). What are your feelings on Alabama’s current position in the polls? (Too High? Too Low? Just Right?) Expound on this if you can.

I would be happy with 15th place considering we’ve only played on game, so I guess it evens out when you consider the two positions in the polls. We need to play some SEC football before I start complaining about being ranked “too low”.

Early season poll rankings are starting to mean less and less. If you don’t like where your team it today, you certainly have plenty of opportunities to gain some ground. Just look at the 2007 polls, the most fluid of my lifetime. It seemed like a top team was falling every week. So don’t panic, because this thing will probably be very different come October.

2) We’re all a little shocked at how much Alabama dominated that game on Saturday. What aspect of the game did Alabama control that shocked you the most?

Even though I created this question, I have to admit it seems a bit open ended considering how well things went on Saturday. I guess my one shock was our ability to not crumble after a few big plays by Clemson. With that Ford catch, and later the Spiller TD,  thought it would become a very close game that we might lose. But, we responded in a manner unlike 2007 with our ability to finish the game. The only question now is can we avoid the late season collapse that has mired us in mediocrity for the last few years?

Think about it; we’ve actually had some pretty respectable performances until the end of the season year after year. Even though that is when we play LSU and Auburn, we’ve still had the likes of ULM and Mississippi State to deal with (two non-juggernauts of football). We’ve got to stay tough, and I think this year we just might do it.

3) Name your player of the game on Offense. Also name one on Defense.

On offense, you have to give it to Mark Ingram. The Freshman Running Back was the rookie of the weekend if my opinion, gaining a ton of yardage against a highly vaunted defense from a year ago. He’s got the speed, toughness, and plowing ability that you need in an SEC RB.

on defense, I’d go with Terrance Cody, as I am sure most of you will. He’s 360+ lbs, and can still do a 360 degree slam dunk. With his agility, he created tons of problems for Clemson last Saturday. If we are to have a big time D-line this season, Cody will be the key kog for Alabama.

Alabama Wins 34-10!

I don’t know if I’ve ever been so happy to have been so wrong in my life! Who gives a rip about blog cred! I think the entire fan base just went hoarse with joy.

Field Goal. I’m so excited….. I promise you I am.

Florida from 2005 has been topped, and thank goodness. I was tired of people linking to YouTube videos from 3 years ago. We came, we played, and we won. I’m so happy of how we finished, something we lacked in 2007.

Of course, I expect some in the opposing fan bases will say “Well, uh…. Clemson is from the overrated ACC. This proves nothing!” Even though Clemson isn’t where not as good as their ranking, I’ll gently remind said detractors that you originally proclaimed that Clemson is the better team, and there is no way Alabama will even compete with them in the Georgia Dome. Hypocrisy at its finest.

If you haven’t seen this before, I like to present my thoughts is a simple, yet somewhat random format. It’s not too difficult to figure out.

Here we go with the high points:

– CONGRATS TO COACH NICK SABAN ON CAREER VICTORY 100! What a way to get it.

-We did this to grab the attention of a large number of top recruits. I’d say we did that and then some. We got THE exposure of the weekend, and really showed that we can play when we want to.

-The Freshmen will looked afraid and nervous? Whoever said that was foolish to think so (slowly goes back and deletes earlier post). In all seriousness, they will probably make mistakes, but they are talented, and they came to play tonight. In fact, they played better than a few of the Seniors at times.

-We finally used the Tight End…. Nick Walker is a new personal hero.

-ALABAMA ALLOWED 0 YARDS RUSHING. I REPEAT, ALABAMA ALLOWED 0 YARDS RUSHING. That is a PS3 number! Cullen Harper was dropped for -28 on the ground. Spiller and Davis…. not so successful in their own right.

-Uh…. Coach Koenning? I believe your foot just got inserted into your mouth. Have a great day!

-Julio didn’t get 100 yards, but he didn’t have to. He made some big time plays, including a that HUGE touchdown after Clemson had punched us back in the face. The rate of children named Julio will quadruple in the state of Alabama.

-Let the numbers speak for themselves: Alabama had a total of 419 yards, compared to Clemson’s total of 189 yards.

-Even though this isn’t a traditional streak, Alabama has now beaten Clemson 12 games in a row. Of course, the last game happened in 1975. Still, it’s nice to have a streak over somebody.

– I may be wrong, but I do believe this is the first time we’ve beaten a team of “Tigers” in a long while, having lost our last 11. Streak broken, which means it is time to start a win streak (hopefully).

-Obviously, whenever you beat a Top 10 team, you’ll gain a lot of attention.

Here are a few (the very few) low points of the night:

-We dominated every aspect…. until that kick return. Spiller is Lightning fast, and we hardly even laid a finger on the dude as he took it to the house.

-Andre Smith was taken out early, due to a small tweak of the knee. He should be fine, but that does concern me if our best lineman is going to have to deal with injuries.

-I don’t want to say it was too easy, but there were times when it just seemed like we could do no wrong, and they could do nothing right. I hope everyone realizes the season won’t be like this every single game when it comes to the SEC. It’ll be a bunch of tough, hard fights, but I like our chances to compeat.

The Gut and I: Alabama v. Clemson

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.