A lot of questions were raised about the 2008 Alabama Crimson Tide after last week, a 20-6 win over Tulane, in a game that Tulane really dominated on both sides of the ball.After that game, Coach Saban issued an ultimatum of sorts to the Alabama players.Paraphrasing, he basically said that after a full year, the players should “get it”, and if they don’t “get it” by now, then he is going to have to find some players that do.The players definitely responded this week, destroying the hopelessly outmanned Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 41-7.
To some folks, a 41-7 score might indicate a boring game, but for the true Alabama fan, it was really exciting to see Alabama dominate, even if it was against an inferior opponent.The game started fast, with Mark Ingram scoring a TD on a nice bounce to the outside.On the next play from scrimmage, Terrance Cody pushed the offensive lineman into the running back, causing a fumble which Cody recovered himself.A few plays later we kicked a short field goal to make the score 10-0, and from that point, the rout was on.
Since the outcome was never in doubt, Saban had the opportunity to play several new players, and a few of these players really stood out.The first person that comes to mind is Courtney Upshaw, a freshman LB from Eufaula.Upshaw started the game covering kicks on special teams, and he seemed to make every tackle, occasionally in spectacular fashion (watch the hit he made on the kickoff after our first TD).Later in the game, he got some playing time at outside LB, where I expect him to be a major contributor for the next three years.
In addition to Upshaw, we had three freshmen offensive lineman make their debut, John Michael Boswell, Tyler Love, and Barrett Jones.Cleary this move was in response to the horrific performance of the OL last week against Tulane when we had to replace two starters.Late in the first half, Saban replaced Drew Davis at RT with John Michael Boswell, and I thought he filled in well.Previously, when we had to replace a tackle (Andre Smith for example) we would move our starting LG Michael Johnson to tackle, and then replace the guard with either David Ross or Brian Motley.These changes resulted in some problems.First, Johnson is an excellent guard, but he’s not a very good tackle, so we would effectively weaken two positions.Saban is clearly trying to develop another tackle, so we can keep Johnson at guard, and Boswell appears to be a solid option.Later in the game, Saban brought in Tyler Love at RT and Barrett Jones at LT.Again, the opponent was Western Kentucky so you can’t tell too much, but I thought both looked pretty good.I’m confident that all three of these freshmen will have fantastic careers at the Capstone.
Before I close, I want to briefly mention a few things that stood out in Saturday’s game.First, Marquis Maze made yet another spectacular catch.This guy is going to be special.Speaking of special, I know I mention him every week, but Mark Ingram continues to impress.He had two TDs this week, and he could have had more had Saban not pulled him to give the other guys some carries.Also, I was glad to see Earl Alexander get some catches.He is a redshirt freshman, and he should get more playing time based on this week’s performance.Finally, it appears that Julio Jones is starting to look more like Julio Jones.Wilson finally hit him on a deep pattern, but his most impressive play was the TD reception, where he shook off the defender like he was swatting away a gnat.
Next week we crank up the SEC season, facing the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville.Arkansas hasn’t looked very good so far this year, but with Bobby Petrino and his passing attack, they definitely are a dangerous team.This game is vital.To have any chance of winning the SEC West, we have to win this game, no ifs, ands, or buts.And make no mistake about it, if we come out flat like we did against Tulane, they’ll beat us.That being said, I really think that Saban will have our guys focused, and I’m confident they will all understand the importance of this game.I think we’ll win, but we rarely beat them in Arkansas, so it’s going to take everything we have.
That’s it for now.Check back next week for a review of our SEC opener.Until then, as always, feel free to send me any questions or comments.