The good news from Saturday night’s game against Tulane is that it was only on pay-per-view television, so most people only saw the final score, which was a 20-6 Alabama win.The people that did get to watch the game saw a game of total domination.Unfortunately this week Alabama was on the receiving end of that domination.Yes, that’s right; the Tulane Green Wave manhandled the Alabama Crimson Tide for the vast majority of the game.
Alabama entered this game short-handed, with our All-American LT Andre Smith out with a knee sprain.Things got worse on the first series when our starting right guard Marlon Davis pulled a hamstring.As a result, we moved our starting LG Michael Johnson to LT, and brought in converted DT Brian Motley to play LG, and David Ross to play RG.So for almost the entire game, we had only two starters on the offensive line playing in their original positions.The point is, we were kind of behind the eight-ball from the start, but the results were even worse than I had feared, as the Tulane defensive line overwhelmed our OL play after play after play.
So if things were this bad, how were we able to win?Well, our special teams accounted for our first two touchdowns.Javier Arenas made a scintillating 87 yard punt return to give us a 7-0 lead, and Roy Upchurch blocked a punt that was scooped up by Chris Rogers and returned for a TD to give us a 13-0 lead (Corey Smith, our backup kicker, missed the extra point after Leigh Tiffin got injured on the previous kickoff).Our defense was playing reasonably well, but it seemed like Tulane was stopping themselves more than we were stopping them.Their kicker missed a chip shot field goal right before halftime that would have cut the lead to 13-6, and he also missed another relatively easy field goal in the third quarter that again could have cut the lead to 13-6.Also, a couple of Tulane drives were stopped by their QB missing wide open receivers on patterns that would have given them the first down.
After Tulane’s second missed field goal, we had our best (and only) TD drive of the game, marching down the field behind our remarkable freshman RB Mark Ingram.Ingram minimized the poor performance by our OL by shedding tackle after tackle.Watching him reminded me of that movie “Battle of the Bulge,” when the allies couldn’t stop the march of the German Panzers, and one of the soldiers remarked that they felt like they were hitting the tanks with ping-pong balls.Ingram is a remarkable talent, and we are very fortunate as Bama fans to get to watch him develop over the next 3 years.
After our lone offensive TD, we took a 20-3 lead, and I was fairly confident that we had the game in hand.However, on Tulane’s next drive, they easily drove down the field to our 4 yard line, and I’m sure all of us Alabama fans were doing the math to see how much time our offense was going to have to run off the clock to allow us to hold on for the win.Fortunately, Tulane had to settle for the short FG, cutting the lead to 20-6.Even though the offense wasn’t successful at milking the clock after that, our defense stepped up and stopped their next drive on a 4th and 13 at our 31 yard line, and the rest was academic.
So obviously this game was not nearly as encouraging as last week’s win over Clemson.Even though we were hit hard by injuries, seeing what our offensive line will effectively look like next year was terrifying.Our defensive line wasn’t able to get nearly the push against Tulane that they were able to get against Clemson, and as a result, our somewhat weak secondary and young linebackers were exposed.Clearly, to have any chance against the big boys of the SEC, we are going to have to solidify all of those areas.
Let me end this blog with some encouraging thoughts.Again, Mark Ingram is amazing, and special running backs like he appears to be tend to raise the performance levels of his teammates.I expect the OL to improve not only as they get healthier, but also as a result of blocking for Ingram.Also, Julio Jones hasn’t had his breakout game yet, and believe me, he will have one soon.He is quite simply too talented to be stifled much longer.I expect Wilson to start looking his way a little bit more often in future games, and hopefully the next time Julio runs one of those post patterns against man-to-man coverage, Wilson will throw the ball somewhere in the ballpark so that Julio will have a chance to go get it.And also, we have another freshman WR, Marquis Maze, that is really starting to look like a playmaker.Between Julio and Marquis, we have some really good times ahead of us!
Next week we play Western Kentucky, and I fully expect to see a Bama team that more closely resembles the one that we saw against Clemson than the one we saw against Tulane.Regardless, we should win the game, but I would really like to see a more solid effort heading into our brutal SEC schedule.
That’s it for now.As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.