This time of year is particularly bittersweet to me, as I imagine it is for most Bama fans.The sweet is that we just absolutely, positively dominated MichiganState (co-Big 10 champions and ranked in the Top Ten) in the Capitol One Bowl 49-7.The bitter is twofold. First, itís the last Bama game, which is always sad, but secondly, there are a lot of players that weíve become accustomed to seeing that weíll never see in that Crimson Jersey again.Iíll talk more about the bitter in a moment, but letís start out by talking about the game itself.
Really, what can I say about our performance against MichiganState?From start to finish, we controlled every aspect of the game.They couldnít run the ball, they couldnít pass the ball, they couldnít stop our running game, and they couldnít stop our passing game.We scored every time we had the ball in the first half (except right before halftime when we were trying to run out the clock), and we continued our barrage in the second halfWe pulled McElroy with about 9 minutes left in the third quarter, and really, were simply trying to milk the clock from that point on.Itís tempting to throw extreme accolades like ďThis is the best Iíve ever seen Bama lookĒ after watching a game like this, and in reality, any superlatives that we can think of might be true.However, we have to remember that even though MichiganState is co-Big 10 champions, in reality, theyíre not nearly as good as their record would indicate.Of course, theyíre better than GeorgiaState, and we made them look like GSU on Saturday.
So the next question is, why the heck couldnít we do this throughout the season? We all know that Sabanís defensive scheme is complex, but no matter what anyone says, the success of his scheme relies on one thing, QB pressure.We havenít been able to pressure the passer consistently throughout the season, but on Saturday, we attacked the pocket like Bin Laden was hiding back there.Dareus was the beast that we expected to see all season, and Upshaw was almost unblockable.In addition, Nico Johnson finally got on the field, and he was a factor from start to finish.With this stalwart play from our front seven, there was very little that MSU could do.Every offensive play was contested, and almost every offensive play failed.So to me, that was the major difference between our defense on Saturday and the rest of the year.I canít really explain why we didnít see it in all its glory until the thirteenth game.
Which leads us to the bitter.As much as I enjoyed the game, I couldnít help but feel sad knowing that it was the swan-song for several of our players.Though nothing is final as of this writing, we can probably safely say that Ingram, Dareus, and Julio will be leaving early for the draft.Dontía Hightower and Mark Barron (who sat out the bowl game with a torn pectoral muscle) are also strong possibilities, and as much as I hate to say it, Upshaw might be leaving too.Again, nothing is final, but I do think that best case, Julio, Mark, and Marcell leave, and those three are going to be extremely tough to replace.And besides the fact that they are vital to the team, quite frankly, Iím just going to miss watching them play.
But Iíll talk more about whoís leaving in a later blog.I want to close this one but congratulating the Alabama football team and coaching staff for putting everything they had into the Capitol One Bowl.I was a little bit worried that we phone this one in after the heartbreaking loss to Auburn (and no, Iím still not over that one), but they obviously saw this game as a chance for redemption, and they did as much as possible to redeem themselves after the Auburn choke.I mentioned some players that might be leaving early, but there are also some players that we know will be leaving as seniors.Greg McElroy, James Carpenter, Luther Davis, Preston Dial, and anyone else Iím forgetting, congratulations.I know this season wasnít what anyone wanted, but you went out in style.
The great thing about Bama football is that even though the season is over, there will be lots of Bama-related events over the next several months.Recruiting season is in full swing, and soon after signing day, spring practice starts, culminating in the A-Day game in mid-April. You can bet that Iíll be following all of these events and blogging my little heart out.Until then, feel free to send me any questions or comments.Roll Tide!