I spent all day Saturday watching games, rooting for outcomes that would aid Alabamaís chances of getting back in the national championship race.I was thrilled when the two biggest games went our way; Wisconsin upset Ohio State, and Texas shocked Nebraska.Of course, I was disappointed to see South Carolina come back to earth against Kentucky, but overall, I was pretty encouraged by the events of the day by the time Bama kicked off against Ole Miss.However, early on in our game, it dawned on me that maybe I shouldnít even be thinking about our path to the BCS Championship game, because as it stands right now, Iím not sure that weíre even the 3rd best team in our division of our conference.Clearly, we have some issues right now, and even though we beat a pretty good Ole Miss team, if we donít improve dramatically, what happens to the big boys around the country wonít make a bit of difference.
First, let me start by saying that this was a very important game for us.Itís tough to rebound from a game like last Saturdayís.For the last two years, weíve gone into every game undefeated; feeling like that game was a stepping stone to something great.However, after getting blasted by South Carolina, suddenly the Ole Miss game had to feel like nothing more than a game against Ole Miss, so I was very concerned about our mental focus for this game.Plus, Ole Miss is a much better team than theyíre given credit for.Yes, they lost to Jacksonville State, but they have been playing much better lately, including an impressive win against the team that just beat South Carolina (and almost beat Auburn).Add in the fact that they were coming off an off-week, and there was definitely reason for concern.
As for the game itself, itís obvious that the defense felt like they had something to prove after South Carolina rampaged through them like marauding Huns.The defensive line actually made an appearance in this game, and the linebackers appeared much more aggressive, both in pressure packages and in run support.I was concerned about trying to contain the dangerous Masoli, but he only got loose on one really big run.Yes, I know that he missed a couple of wide open receivers at crucial times in the game, but the improvement from last week to this week was dramatic.I know itís not exactly what we want our defense to be, but itís pretty good, and based on the number of new players we have out there, I think this is just about the best that we can hope for.And that was kind of the plan this year Ė get good but not great play from our defense while the offense lights up the scoreboard.
Unfortunately, that plan isnít working out too well, because, well, how do I say this nicely, our offense is in total disarray right now. I was watching Auburn play earlier that day, and I noticed that whoever is running the ball for them, they have tons of open field when they get the ball.I donít think Cam Newton has absorbed a solid hit all year.Compare that to our running backs.Almost every time they touch the ball, they are getting lambasted as soon as they approach the line of scrimmage.It almost comical; we as Bama fans love to brag about how so many of our RBís yards come after contact, but why is no one asking why theyíre getting so much contact so early in their runs?The answer to that question is more complicated than it might seem, and I donít want to delve too deeply into it right now, but I hope that itís a question that Saban is at least asking himself, because if ever there comes a time when we line up with less than all-world running backs, weíre in deep, deep trouble.
As feeble as our running game is right now, our passing game is even worse.I donít even know where to start here, but I guess the obvious place is with McElroy.Heís still having trouble progressing through his reads, and he seems completely unwilling to throw the ball deep, especially in the middle of the field.However, I donít think that the fault is all his, because in rewatching the last several games, Iíve come to the conclusion that our wide receivers have no idea what theyíre doing.They basically float out into their patterns, and if a defender happens to be there, well, then I guess theyíll just not be open on that play.They donít have any crispness to their patterns, and they have no idea how to create separation from the defenders.Somewhere along the line, the blame has to go to the offensive staff, because there is no way that we should be struggling this much on offense with the personnel we have.
I know Iím sounding negative, and I really donít mean to be too much if a downer.Itís just that I watched the other games on Saturday, and frankly, if we were to play Auburn next week, theyíd simply name the score against us, and thatís hard to take in a year where the hopes and expectations were so high.But, that gameís several weeks away, and next week is arch-rival Tennessee.This game is vital. Lose and weíre out of the SEC Championship hunt; win and weíre squarely in it, and weíll make it to our desperately needed bye-week with all of our goals still alive.Theyíre a better team than most people think (ask LSU), and if we play like we did against South Carolina, weíll see a similar result.I trust Saban not to let that happen.Letís make it four-in-a-row against the hated Vols!
Thatís all for now.As always, feel free to send me any questions or comments.Until next time, Roll Tide!