Tennessee Review 2011

 

Tennessee Review 2011

And so it’s here.  Finally.  No, I’m not talking about the Notes, though my conscience did force me to wait an extra day to allow my Vol loving wife to head off to Chicago before sitting down to review the game.  No, I’m of course talking about the LSU game.  The entire season has been building towards November 5th and the next two weeks will bring a crescendo that will culminate in the entire world stopping to watch the two best teams, not in the SEC, but in all of college football battle it out for the right to continue their national championship quest.  It’s a game unmatched in recent history.  An epic #1 versus #2 battle with the loser likely having to watch the winner earn the prize that they’ve worked all winter, summer and fall to make their own.  Yep.  It’s ON!  In the coming two weeks you’ll receive a lot of information from me and from other sources on the big game and I freaking can’t wait, can you? 

But, for now, we must dissect the game that was the “third Saturday in October”.  What to make of this game, eh?  For what seems like the sixth straight game – maybe even seventh straight depending on how you perceived the PennState beginning – Alabama once again got off to a slow start.  This time, however, Bama didn’t awaken from their slumber until the beginning of the second half.  Typically, a slow 1st quarter was followed by an overpowering second quarter and then a punishing second half.  This time, however, Bama was sleep walking thru the entire first half on offense while the defense had the audacity to allow runs of 15, 13 and six yards.  Isn’t it amazing that we’ve been reduced to bitching about, essentially, two runs?  But, to be sure, this was a bit disconcerting because it’s not that we’ve all been evaluating the present game but, rather we have one eye on the present and one eye squarely locked on LSU.  If Poole can gain 15 and 13 yards, what can Ford and Ware do?  Never mind the fact that, after AJ’s interception, we forced a four and out.  Never mind the fact that, after the fake punt and the 15 yard facemask penalty, we held UT without a single yard and forced a 52 yard FG.  Never mind the fact that we held UT without a first down in the entire second half.  No, we for some reason focus on two decent runs by Poole and the sluggish first half by the offense.  It’s a strange new world we live in.  But, in this world lives LSU – a foe of equal size and talent – and that’s the reason we remain unsatisfied with nearly every beat down performance.  Ain’t it grand?

Thankfully, the players had a little talky talk at halftime and that, along with a few choice words from St Nick, turned the Tide, so to speak (is that the first time I’ve used that this season – it’s just too easy!).  As a result, ole Smokey and his poor torn ACL were drowned out by a crimson tidal wave that appears to have left a permanent stain on Dooley’s orange britches.  I can’t wait to see how Dooley’s mommy will take to the airwaves to clean up this new batch of dirty laundry….and with that……it’s on to the Notes!

OFFENSE

How about we just jump to the second half, eh?  No?  Seriously, do you really want me to revisit that steaming pile of elephant crap that stunk up the field for the first 30 minutes?  Fine.  You know, it started well.  We got a first down and looked to be playing Bama football until AJ misread the LB.  The throw was there but credit the LB for covering about 15 yards to get to the flight of the ball.  After that, to say AJ was playing with some anxiety would be an understatement.  Prozac or Lexipro anyone?  His passes were off.  He read coverages as though he had a going problem.  And, strangely, we continued passing instead of trying to establish the run.  Consider, in the first quarter, we threw the ball nine times while attempting only five rushes.  In the second quarter, the ratio was seven passes to eight rushes, and nearly everything seemed to be ineffective.  On the running plays, backs slipped and linemen missed blocks while UT typically stacked the box with 8 and 9 defenders.  It’s clear the gameplan going in was to throw the ball because of this.

So, we all readied for a second half ground and pound that would make Jenna Jameson blush.  It was clearly time to dominate the Viles like the dirty little hooker hostesses they are.  So, naturally, Saban took to the air with his vodka martini of a QB (shaken, not stirred, as Bond would say) and the results were a gratifying Happy Flight that even the Cardinals admired.  You know, props to AJ.  For real.  Here’s a kid who was in a big rivalry game and had thrown a pick right off the bat.  His play was erratic and his confidence was iffy but he stood in there and began delivering on time and on the money, time and time again.  That takes a lot, especially when you clearly weren’t on your game.  Credit Darius “Don’t Call Me Hootie” Hanks with some incredible catches that clearly built some confidence within #10.  But, AJ for the first time in his career, experienced adversity.  What did he do?  He stared at the face of adversity and channeled his best Mr Chow (The Hangover) as he said to adversity and to the Vols:  “Toodaloo Muddafuhkah!”

In the Ayer…A, A, A, Ayer:  AJ completed only 2 of his first 7 passes and one of those was intercepted.  How’d he finish?  After facing tough times, AJ bounced back to complete 15 of his final 19 passes for a career high 284 yards.  Simply outstanding.

Circus:  All eyes were on Darius Hanks in the center of the ring just like a circus as he made catch after catch after catch in a full layout position.  He was working the high wire with no net – just a pair of sticky hands and a smile.  You can see why many say he has the best hand on the team and he’s really emerging as a go to guy.

Mr Brightside:  Appropriate that the Killerz sing Mr Brightside b/c that’s what Trent is – a cold blooded death blow to opponents.  This time, Trent took a handoff up the middle and patiently worked out a 12 yard TD run when there was seemingly nothing there.  Even on the slo-mo replay you were left shaking your head wondering how in the world he made so much out of that carry.

Take this Line and Shove It:  This will be a first in write up history but I have to say that there was one guy who constantly showed up in every replay and he didn’t play for Alabama.  Malik Jackson spent a lot of time on the Bama side of the line of scrimmage and, numerous times, Vlachos was getting worked.  Jackson is only 270 lbs but he’s very fast and keeps a very low center of gravity.  Jackson was a problem for our zone blocking as we never could get our hats ahead of his, therefore he remained unblocked and was a constant hemorrhoid on our backside.

The Twist:  Of note, I saw several unique formations that I hadn’t seen before.  Hope Les has some extra time during the next two weeks b/c he suddenly has a lot more to prepare for.  Here’s a bullet list of little things I noticed that haven’t been shown much or at all this season:

  • Maze running the wildcat with Trent in motion – remember he can throw
  • The I formation with Underwood as the fullback
  • An inverted wishbone with Williams and Smelley as the up backs.  It’s a run heavy look that we went play action from.
  • Barrett Jones lined up numerous times next to Fluker as a TE.  Meanwhile, on the opposite side, Williams lined up as the LT flanked by Smelley.  It’s a very run heavy to the right look and it worked beautifully.
  • We completed two deep balls (unusual, anyway)
  • AJ shouted “Tornado!  Tornado!” That set a play in motion that had big Fluker pull like a car causing carnage everywhere.  He rarely if ever pulls.
  • AJ rolled left and completed a pass to Smelley
  • A two back shotgun set with Smelley resulted in a sneaky screen to him.  Well designed and hidden.
  • We double stacked our WRs in one look resulting in an open route by Hanks

DEFENSE

 

Funny how many look at the defensive performance and moan about how poorly we played.  We forget that UT went for a 4th and 4 on our 35 and we batted the ball down.  We forget that, after the fake punt and the 15 yard penalty, they were set up at our 35 again.  Three plays netted zero yards and one ruptured spleen (Donte smoked one poor dude who thought he had a catch) and UT was forced to kick a 52 yard field goal.  Later, facing a fourth and inches on their own 40, UT decided to go for it again.  This time, the defense didn’t give an inch as the emasculated the Tennessee offensive line and rendered Matt Sims as UT’s version of Chaz Bono.  Tennessee pulled out all the stops and all it got them was a measly six points.  Six.  Points.  C’mon, man!  They didn’t get a single first down in the second half!  Not one!  That’s pretty stunning on any level, much less the SEC level.

This is How We Do It:  No, seriously, how’d they run on us?  Well, if you harken waaaay back to the PennState write up, you’ll note that we employ a 4-1 look with Mosley as the only LB.  Donte moves to DE.  On the big 15 yard play, Donte moved into the flat to cover that zone, leaving only a three man rush.  The guards got out on Mosley and Barron and, by the time the safeties could close, Poole had a head of steam and gobble up 15 yards.  It’s sad that we have to break this kind of thing down but it’s necessary.   Poole had another couple of runs where he blew through Menzie’s tackles near the line of scrimmage.  By and large, he was bottled up otherwise.

The Thunder Rolls:  He’s baaaaaack!!!!  Donte Hightower played his best game since his knee injury.  He lined up as a DE.  He covered the flat.  He was a LB.  He was a Jack type rusher lined up next to Upshaw.  But, no matter where he was, the result was the same.  Hightower blew thru the Tennessee lines easier than General Hooker’s men at LookoutMountain.  We could also mention the batted down fourth down pass, the sack or the interceptions.  Or, we could mention the sick moves Donte displayed as he weaved his way for 30 yards after his pick.  Oh, and he was the Defensive Player of the Week in the SEC.  Go figure!

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again:  No, not Donte, the other LB.  Welcome back Mr Mosley!  Mosley read two different screens and snuffed them out before they could get rolling.  Once, against a blitz, UT called for a screen and it was four against one.  However, our one was Mosley and he knifed thru the traffic and took down the RB.  There’s a reason he started in the nickel and dime packages as a freshman – kid is mighty good.  Glad he’s back for the big game!

You Know Dasher and Blitzen:  Yeah, that was kinda weak.  I couldn’t figure out a song for blitzing and, next thing you know, I’m singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  Sigh.  Anyway, Nick dialed up a LOT of pressures during this one.  I saw corner blitzes, slot blitzes, dual middle LB blitzes and zone pressures.  Meanwhile, I saw us employ the 3-4, 4-3, 4-2, 4-1 as well as the 3-3 and 3-2 looks.  Tricky Nicky was simply working in the lab, I believe, and reminded folks that we aren’t just a rush four, drop seven team (though we have been much of this season).  I guess I could have titled this one “Mind Games” because on offense and on defense we showed a bit more that what we’ve done the majority of the season.

T-R-O-U-B-L-E:  This was the first game that I noticed our front d-line getting rooted out of the trenches.  Gentry, Billingsley, Square and even Chapman got moved around a few times.  With one eye on LSU, it’s somewhat significant.  I will say that the week off will do the big uglies on both sides of the line of scrimmage a chance to rest, heal and get themselves a mighty big mad on.

 

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Ole Miss Review 2011

 

Ole Miss Review

Wow.  Before we get too far into the breakdown of the Ole Miss game, I think it’s my duty as an American, as a human and as an advocate of children everywhere, to call out child abuse when I see it.  Can we get Sally Struthers on here to explain that, for just a cup of coffee a day, we can take that money and give it to poor little Senquez Golson so that he’ll never have to endure another painful Saturday of abuse in his life.  No more picking up your teeth, your chin strap and the rest of your scattered belongings after getting TRUCKED by Alabama’s third string beast of a human being.  No more beatings at the hand of his daddy, Trent Richardson, who will own him for the rest of all eternity.  Instead of getting “posterized,” Golson got “Daniel Moore’d” as he will most certainly find himself in an epic painting coming soon to an art gallery near you.  Seriously, this is why it’s frowned upon when you beat your children at WalMart – no one wants to see this kind of child abuse.  Honestly, it would have been much more humane for Trent Richardson to find Golson during the pre-game meal and punch him out in front of the Ole Miss team.  That way, Golson could live out a long career of quiet incompetence under the shadows of Houston Nutt’s ineptitude.  Instead, we’ll see Golson on coffee mugs, pencils, pens and framed pictures all across the southeast.  To the good, I’m guessing we’ll also get to see Mr Golson a couple of times during the ESPYs when Trent’s run comes up for play of the year…(more on this run later).

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to play anywhere other than the University of Alabama, otherwise they will get bent over and receive an atomic wedgie on national television.  Of course, when Alabama gives a wedgie, it’s gonna be painfully legendary.  Wikipedia tells us Wedgies, especially when performed on males, can be dangerous, potentially causing testicular or scrotal damage. An incident in 2004 involving a ten-year-old boy required reattachment of a testicle to the scrotum.  I submit to you that Senquez Golson and the rest of the Rebels were that 10 year old on Saturday.

 Honestly, is this how Hoover High fans feel?  Wake us up when there’s a challenge?  This is the vaunted SEC where the men are men and the sheep run scared in Opelika!  This is big boy football!  The best of the best!  The best players.  The best coaches.  The best league.  The best competition.  Do you feel me????  The BEST!  So what has Alabama done against the best competition college football has to offer?  Well, midway through its Southeastern Conference schedule Alabama has outscored its four SEC opponents 162-31.  At the time we played Arkansas and Florida, they were #1 in passing and rushing respectively, so don’t give me any of that “they haven’t played anyone” BS.  Incidentally, that crappy football team in Happy Valley that we disposed of in week 2 happens to be 6-1 and 3-0 in the Big Ten.  I’ll list out all of the categories Alabama is ranked #1 in the SEC at the bottom with a ton of other fun stats, but suffice it to say what Alabama is doing to their opponents is simply astounding.  Offensively it’s even more astounding when you realize this success comes while we are breaking in a new QB…who doesn’t have the security of Julio Jones…or a Heisman trophy winner at RB…or a first round left tackle.  I could go on and on and on (yeah, I know, I have already) but this quite simply is the team that Nick told us he would have.  It’s a team no one wants to play.  It’s a team of men who face boys every week.  It’s not IF we’ll win but by HOW MUCH.  It’s just an amazing time to be an Alabama fan.  Enjoy what you see each Saturday and savor it – this is a special time.  Oh, and, if you can, please lend a hand to Senquez Golson – he seems to have left his jock, his girdle and his cheekies somewhere on the turf of Oxford.  And with that….on to the notes!

 

 

OFFENSE

There is so much to cover here and I’ve already run long (eat your heart out Tommie Lee) – how do I give it all the justice it deserves?  I could easily stat you to death.  I could tell you that our first year starter, AJ McCarron, has completed the third most consecutive passes (151) without an interception ever at the Capstone.  If he throws 5 more passes without one, he’ll pass Jay Barker for second (Croyle is your leader with 190).  Are you sitting down?  Seriously.  Consider that.  A first year starter in the SEC is setting records for consecutive passes without an interception.  Well, that’s because he isn’t asked to do anything, right?  Wrong!  Whenever we face a third and over 3 yards or so, we have to pass with an untested, unproven QB.  How are we doing on third downs?  Alabama is converting 51.1 percent, good for second in the SEC and tied for 14th nationally. Well, that stat just means we are running the ball for those first downs to take the load off of AJ.  You’re smart.  You’re thinking.  I like that.  But not so fast my friend!  On third down AJ is 36-54-2, 444 yards, & 6 TDs!  And remember, AJ went 0-3 against North Texas with his only two picks on third down.  I’ve noticed, as have you I’m sure, that AJ’s game has really picked up since Arkansas.  How much? On third downs since the Arky game, AJ is 23 of 32 for 326 yards and 5 TDs (with no picks).  These stats would be impressive with McElroy at QB, let alone a newbie like AJ.

Then there’s the running game.  My buddy Joe says they are calling the trio of Richardson, Lacy and Fowler “Two MEN and a TRUCK.”  Love that.  It’s just not fair.  Again, I can stat you to death but I’ll just give you some quick lovin.  Eddie Lacy has 152 more rushing yards(419) than all our opponents combined (267).   Jalston Fowler has 25 more rushing yards(302) than all our opponents combined (267).  Our SEC opponents have a combined total of 101 yards rushing or 112 yards less than Jalston Fowler has gained(213) in those four games. Bama has 1,424 more yards rushing than our opponents. And finally…Blake Simms at 107 yards has more rushing yards than all our SEC opponents combined.  Thanks Andy for sending that to me – simply amazing stats.  Amazingly silly stats.  Against.  The.  Best.  Competition.

Born To Run:  We’ve all been waiting for Trent to get his opportunity and, while he was sluggish in the first couple of games, you have really seen him blossom into a “fo real doh” running back.  Oh, sure, Trent has the elite size & speed to be successful but, early on, Lacy showed a better knack for pressing the hole (no, seriously, that’s a term they use in “coaching” – I still don’t see how they say that with a straight face) and using his vision to find open seems and against the grain cuts.  Trent has now mastered the art of the cutback and now he finds the hole better than Wilt Chamberlain.  All four of his TDs showed great vision and patience and his stats of 183 yards rushing (213 all purpose) bear out a testimony of being an elite back.  More stats below…

Breakdown, Shakedown, You’re Busted:  A run like Trent’s deserves some special attention to detail and, after reading this, maybe you’ll understand the intro’s dedication to poor Mr Golson.  The play is out of the one back set and has Warmack pulling right.  The play is designed to go right.  TR takes the handoff and is immediately forced to cut left to evade, you guessed it, Senquez Golson.  With the flow going right and TR going left, it allowed Trent to get upfield quickly while two Rebel Black Bears grasped for air at the line of scrimmage – whoosh.  Trent was on to the second and third levels in a heartbeat.  It’s funny to watch Steen and Barrett Jones as they honestly stare in amazement at Trent as he has gone completely opposite of where the play was supposed to go and he’s heading untouched into the secondary after evading three Rebs who had a shot at him at or behind the LOS.  Smelley is holding his block at the 40 and White is holding his block at the 50 and running downfield as Trent cuts back to the right.  Amazingly, Maze rushes up into view from somewhere off the screen and begins to pass White as the two of them lead Trent downfield.  Amazing hustle.  Meanwhile, Trent is quickly but patiently making his way up the sidelines as Mr Golson once again comes into the picture.  Yep.  Same dude Trent pantsed at the LOS is back for more abuse.  As Maze and White hold their blocks, Trent fakes back to the middle of the field and then continues down the sidelines as Golson trips over his jock strap that has somehow wrapped around his ankles.  Touchdown!  Silly, sick, mad skills by #3 and props to White and Maze for absolutely busting their humps for 80 yards down the field.

Move Bitch Get Out Da Way:  You know I have to lovingly talk about the BEAST that is Jalston Fowler once again.  Are you kids on board yet?  Holy mother of pearl, if it were just Trent and Jalston I think my nickname for them would be Cruel and Unusual Punishment.  Trent’s run was cruel.  Jalston’s punishment is unusual as in, it’s more than unusual to see a big beast of a man who’s that big and runs that fast and that hard.  Enter the final defining moment for poor Senquez Golson.  Yep.  After Trent’s big run, a sack and fumble recovery had Bama back in business at the OM 15.  Jalston left some carnage on his first 7 yard run but then, out of the one back set, he headed left thru another gaping hole and, once again, there was Mr Golson.  Daddy Fowler took his big bear claw attached to his right arm, grabbed little Golson around his head and face planted him into the Oxford turf.  Good night, Irene.  This completed a woeful night for Golson making him the poster child for poster children.  “This could happen to you – Friends Don’t Let Friends Play Against Alabama.”  Later, behind excellent blocking of the second string line, Fowler hit a seam and shed a would be tackler, leaving him in a footrace at the Bama 43 with two OM defensive backs.  The DBs never gained ground as my man Jalston (which must be Hindu for “Move Bitch, Get Out da Way”) raced into the end zone for a 69 yard score.  BOOM!   Incidentally, Fowler was one of three Alabama players to have more rushing yards than the entire Ole Miss team.

Take a Chance On Me:  At one time, rumor had it that big Cyrus Kouandjio would be taking the LT spot and Barrett Jones would move to LG replacing Chance Warmack.  Now, this was a surprise to me as I thought Chance was better than Steen and I reasoned Chance must not be getting it done like he should be.  Some uneven performances in the beginning of the year seemed to solidify this notion that Chance may be the weak link in the line.  Well, things really began clicking for the OL against Arky and it hasn’t stopped since.  A huge (literally) part of that is the emergence of Chance Warmack. He absolutely punishes people when he pulls and he’s getting excellent push at the point of attack.  Shout out to Chance and the big uglies!

Beat It:  To my limited recollection, we’ve seen three early fourth down attempts with the fake punt against Penn State, the fake FG against Arky and then the 4th and 2 against OM.  When the score is 52-7, you tend to think in terms of epic beatdowns and no contests.  However, I’d like to point you to what I think was the key play of the game and a play that established our dominance on the field and on the scoreboard.  On 4th and 2 from the OM 31, Bama lined up in the wildcat.  To no one’s surprise, Trent took the snap and headed towards the middle of the line.  But, before he got to the LOS, an OM defensive tackle wrapped his arms around him in an effort to bring him to the ground.  Trent shedded him like a big bearskin coat and then proceeded to move a pile of humanity seven yards downfield to convert the first down.  This led to our second TD and broke the will of the OM defenders.  It was probably too far out for a FG but credit Nick for going for the first down here.  Who knew he was the new River Boat Gambler?

Kris Kross Will Make You Jump:  Poor ole Verne would have absolutely peed on himself in the booth if sweet Timmy Tebow had thrown the same jump pass that AJ threw on a crosser to Maze.  This was no one yard flick, either.  AJ jumped up and rifled a pass 10 yards downfield to hit Maze as he was crossing underneath to convert another third down.  Verne and Gary would have had to get the lotion and the towels out had Cam Newton made the same throw but, for AJ, it was just another pass.  Incidentally, AJ hit six crossing patters during the game good for 92 yards and is clearly his pass of choice.  For reference, he was 19 of 24 attempts for 224 yards.

Footloose:  I knew Maze had a little wiggle in the open field but, as the season has progressed, I’ve noticed White and Hanks both have some open field moves that would make Julianne Hough take note!  As teams stack the box, the bubble and tunnel screens become critical and having players who can cut (“everybody cut, everybody cut”) footloose is essential!

In Too Deep:  I started to go with another Phil Collins title of “Throwing it all away” but I just couldn’t figure out how to tie in the fact that I like seeing AJ throw the ball away (even if it was grounding – could have been just a high throw) with the fact that we are inches away from completing a deep ball.  We took three deep shots against OM and while two were way overthrown, one to Kenny Bell was just inches away from being completed.  Again, as teams stack the box, we’re bound to hit one of these sooner or later.  I will say, we’ve been killing the slants and crossers of late and AJ looks supremely confident on those throws.

Use the Force, Fluke:  DJ Fluker had one of his lesser games Saturday.  The big man played the role of the matador as he o’layed a Rebel DE and allowed him to force the grounding mentioned above.  Later he whiffed on a couple of run plays, as well.  May be nothing but I thought I should point this out.  As the competition gets tougher (cough, cough, LSU, cough), he’ll need to get better.

DEFENSE

Another completely suffocating performance by the defense resulted in yet another epic beatdown of an SEC foe.  Folks, it’s not supposed to be this easy.  The national media talk in superlatives not relating this D to 1992 or 2009 but EVER.  While we find reasons to wring our little hands on the deep balls that have either been completed or nearly completed (and yes, cough, cough, LSU, cough is on the horizon), the simple fact is that’s the only way to score against this team.  Long marches with double digit plays simply ain’t happenin’.  The line gets enough of a push where we aren’t having to blitz much at all.  Saban has been long known as an exotic blitzer but, this season, he hasn’t had to.  He’s been known for bump and run coverage but, by rushing only four or five, he can play man AND zone at the same time.  This D is like an anaconda, wrapping tighter and tighter around its prey as the game progresses.  And, this anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got big ‘uns – as in the beef to match our DL and LBs to push them around.  If it exists, we’ll find out on November 5th

Light My Fire:  Anyone notice that Courtney Upshaw didn’t play during the entire 1st quarter?  Evidently he was serving a one quarter suspension (no, I have no idea what for) so he didn’t enter the game until the second quarter.  Evidently, this lit his fire as he had two sacks, a forced fumble and wreaked more than his usual amount of havoc in the backfield.  He’s such a force – can’t believe his name is Courtney.  Seems like it should be Bull, Bronco or Shitkicker.

Won’t Be Fooled Again:  Ok, maybe we will be.  Deep balls by Florida and now Ole Miss make you think that, well, maybe teams are onto something.  Bama was in a three deep zone and Milliner was peeking into the backfield.  Whoosh.  “Where’d whoooooo goooooo?”  I’m guessing Les Miles is writing this down under the bill of his cap…and I’m guessing Nick knows.

Nothing from Nuthin’ Leaves Nuthin’:  Yeah, so, just like the Florida game, the bomb was all Ole Miss had, as the Rebels had the opening 72 yard drive and then finished the first half with 72 total yards.  Oh, and they only added 71 more during the entire second half.

We Will Rock You:  Here’s more silliness to ponder.  Ole Miss was 4 of 14 on third downs. The defense’s season 3rd down percentage of 28.04 ranks third in the SEC and eighth in the nation. The Rebels went three-and-out five times.  We also forced two turnovers to go with 14 tackles for a loss and five sacks.  FOURTEEN tackles for loss.  Holy…

I Am Superman:  And he can do everything.  Of course, I’m talking about Mark Barron.  Whether is sniffing out a screen pass, playing man to man coverage or playing deep coverage over the top, the kid can simply do it all.  Special, special player here.  Enjoy him – safeties like him don’t come around all that often.  He hits like  LB and covers like a corner.  Crazy good.

Hitman:  A quick shoutout to the kid who had the hit of the game.  Will Lowery.  Will doesn’t sleep, he waits.  When Will Lowery hits someone in the stomach, they feel it in the back of the head.  When Will Lowery hit Nick Brassell in the back, Brassell crumpled to the Oxford floor without the football…and he thanked Will and asked for another.  All that talent that St Nick has brought us every February and here’s a walk on kid who continues kicking ass and taking names.  Will Lowery clearly sprung from the loins of Chuck Norris…

 Come Together:  Well, it’s not exactly like the Beatles coming together but when the nation’s talking heads are saying “best ever defense” then shout outs are clearly in order.  While re-watching the tape, Billingsley, Square, Harris and Gentry jumped out at me once again.  Also, Alex Watkins played well while subbing in for Upshaw.  This D knows their role and seems to excel when given the opportunity to play.  Harris has been a long time coming but is consistently in the right place and making the right reads – a looooong way from where he was as an all talent but no clue freshman…and sophomore…and junior.  He’s come a long way.  And how about Nick Gentry – another sack for the Nilla Gorilla!  He also led to two other TFLs.  Amazing.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Ok, clearly not our best performance to date.  I’m not sure what possessed Nick to try the 53 yard FG and now I’m officially thinking something is wrong with Foster.  Well, besides that massive concussion he sustained while chasing down his weak kick.  I’m hoping Foster mishit the ball but I’m thinking there’s something either wrong with his leg or wrong with his approach b/c he’s not the same kicker from last year.   Meanwhile, we didn’t get much from the return game but our kick coverage team got embarrassed a few times.  The first one was a missed tackle and then two guys getting blown up, creating a crease.  The second big one was where we lost containment and out popped the OM player with the ball.  Things tightened up later (on his last few kicks, Shelley drove the ball as far as Foster had been doing) but it caused some uneasiness among the Tide faithful.  Oh, and I don’t think Nick was pleased.  And, you shouldn’t make him angry.  He doesn’t like it when he’s angry.  I’m guessing things get corrected this week and I’m also guessing there will be plenty of opportunities to practice kick offs against UT!  J

 

EXTRA POINTS

I’m including a variety of stats that I found to be impressive below.  They have either been taken by some emails that I received or from some sites that I follow but all are impressive.  As we go forward, I encourage you all to stop, drop and Roll Tide as you enjoy the moment.  Everyone is looking ahead to 11/5 and rightly so, but what you are witnessing is the epic destruction of a really good league.  When they instituted the Bear Bryant rules of recruiting, limiting the number of scholarships and who these scholarships could be given to (no more football players receiving swimming scholarships), they tried to create a level playing field for all D1 teams.  By and large, that’s been the case as parity has been alive and well in college football for the past several years – that is with the exception of the SEC.  Winning the last five national titles tells you all you need to know about how tough the entire league is and, yet, Alabama is making it look like Boise versus the Mountain West, or Big West, or CUSA or the Idaho Rec leagues.  It’s not supposed to be this easy, folks.  So, enjoy watching Trent run.  Enjoy watching Donte, Courtney and Mark shut down the opposition with ease.  Enjoy care free Saturdays where your only concern is now much bourbon you have left in the pantry.  On November 5th, we’ll see where we stack up against some real competition and, hopefully, our success will continue.  But, enjoy the moment and enjoy watching a team that you’ll be telling your grandchildren about in years to come.

By the way, it’s time to acknowledge what Jim McElwain is accomplishing with a newbie QB.  The play calling, the line play, the ability to take AJs strengths and use them to create an offensive machine is really something else.  To have the third down conversion rate with AJ and without a true #1 WR is pretty awesome.  Anyway, here are some other fun items that you’ll want to see…

  • Alabama outgained Ole Miss on the ground 389-28, and had a whopping 615 yards of total offense
  • The Crimson Tide outgained the Rebels 221-18, and outscored them 28-0, in the third quarter even though Ole Miss had the ball longer (8:18-6:35) and both teams ran 14 plays. Incidentally, Alabama’s defense yielded just 15 yards in the second quarter.
  • Bama has outscored our SEC opponents 90-7 in the second half.
  • 56% of our points allowed(27) have come in seven first quarters.
  • In the other 21 quarters Bama has given up 22 points.
  • No one has scored on Bama in the second quarter this season.
  • Penn State’s late throw away Touchdown is the only points scored on Bama in the fourth quarter this season
  • As we hit midseason, here’s how the defensive numbers compare to the last two national championship teams.
    • 2011: Rushing: 38.1; Passing: 146.0; Pass efficiency: 84.9; Total: 184.1; Scoring: 7.0; Turnovers: 1.6; Third downs: 28.0; TFL: 8.1; 1st downs: 10.4.
    • 2009: Rushing: 78.1; Passing: 166.0; Pass efficiency: 87.6; Total: 244.1; Scoring: 11.7; Turnovers: 2.2; Third downs: 30.0; TFL: 7.0; 1st downs: 13.4.
    • 1992: Rushing: 55.0; Passing: 139.2; Pass efficiency: 83.9; Total: 194.16; Scoring: 9.1; Turnovers: 3.2; Third downs: 22.4; TFL: 5.4; 1st downs: 11.3.
  • Statistical comparison I: Even though Week 7 was when Mark Ingram had his 246-yard rushing performance against South Carolina in 2009, Richardson is still ahead of his Heisman Trophy numbers.

Ingram: 905 yards on 135 carries, 19 receptions for 186 yards, 11 touchdowns.
Richardson: 936 yards on 132 carries, 15 receptions for 179 yards, 16 touchdowns.

Ingram 2009
Opponent, rushing yards, receiving yards, offensive yards, TDs

Virginia Tech 150, 35, 185, 2
Fla. International 56, 47, 103, 1
North Texas 91, 38, 129, 2
Arkansas 50, 21,71, 2
Kentucky 140, 6, 146, 2
Ole Miss 172, 48, 220, 1
South Carolina 246, 0, 246, 1
Averages 129.3, 26.6, 155.9, 1.6
Season 118.4, 23.9, 142.3, 1.4

Richardson 2011
Opponent, rushing yards, receiving yards, total yards, TDs

Kent State 37, 16, 53, 3
Penn State 111, 19, 130, 2
North Texas 167, 1, 168, 3
Arkansas 126, 85 211, 1
Florida 181, 32, 213, 2
Vanderbilt 107, 1, 108, 1
Ole Miss 183, 30, 213, 4
Averages 133.7, 25.6, 159.3, 2.3

Here are the stats in which Alabama is number one in the SEC:

Scoring Offense (Points per game)

Rushing Offense (Yards Per Game)

Yards per Rush

Rushing TDs

Passing Completion %

Offensive Yards Per Play

Kickoff Return Average

First Downs Per Game

Fewest Penalties per Game

Tackles for Loss (Total and Per Game)

Tackles for Loss Yardage

Scoring Defense (Points Per Game)

Rushing Defense (Yards Per Game)

Pass Efficiency Defense

Total Defense (Yards Per Game)

Yards Per Play Allowed

Yards Per Rush Allowed

Yards Per Pass Attempt Allowed

Opponent Passing Completion %

Rushing TDs Allowed

Passing TDs Allowed

Opponent Field Goal Percentage

First Downs Allowed (Total and Per Game) First Downs Allowed by Rush First Downs Allowed by Penalty Passes Defended (Total and Per Game) Passes Broken Up Opponent Red Zone Scoring %

Florida Review 2011

Florida Review 2011

Padawan (pa-duh-wan).  1.  An apprentice who undergoes intensive training under a learned Jedi Knight.  In most cases, the padawan cannot hold the Jedi Knight’s jock.  Saturday night was most cases.  One day, Will “BOOM MF” Muschamp will field a team at Florida that will be able to be competitive with Jedi Saban but Saturday was not that day.  Florida’s “kitchen sink” (my goodness, Charlie Weiss certainly knows his way around the kitchen doesn’t he – he’s so fat they had to grease the sides of the tunnel and place a twinkie at midfield just to get him onto the field) offense amounted to “go deep” on the first play and that’s about all they had to offer.  Meanwhile, Muschamp’s forte of masterminding a defense was the equivalent of a stunned Gator looking into the headlights of a Sherman tank.  In big boy SEC football, which we know has won the last five national championships, games are won and lost in the trenches, so when you look at these numbers it’s no wonder these Gators were roadkill.  Honestly, these numbers are mind numbing:

  • Rushing:  Bama – 226 yards. UF – 15 (Florida came into the game averaging 259 on the ground)
  • Rushing 1stDowns:  Bama – 14.  UF – 1.
  • Sacks:  Bama – 3.  UF – 0.
  • QBs Maimed:  Bama – 0.  UF – 2 (yeah, we hurt Driskell, too)

Honestly, this game could be summed up by the fact that our kicker, Cade Foster (who incidentally is built like a brick house) injured Florida’s top running back, Demps, by making a solo tackle by playing a little Gator toss along the sidelines.  Seriously.  We need to make bumper stickers that say “Our kicker can beat up your best RB”.  When our killer kicker wasn’t making himself an alligator jock strap, the actual defense was holding the vaunted duo of Rainey and Demps to a COMBINED 8 yards!!!!  THIS is what Weiss meant by throwing the kitchen sink at Alabama?  It looked more like he threw in the kitchen towel because, after the first quarter, Florida could only mount one legit threat on offense.  In fact, the one last time Florida entered Alabama territory, it resulted in a Watkins sack and a fumble that would have been and should have been allowed to be a touchdown had it not been for an inadvertent whistle.  Then, on the next play, Courtney “The wrecking ball” Upshaw pretzled John Brantley’s leg with another sack that, combined with the Watkins sack on the previous down, moved Florida from the Bama 12 to the Bama 35.  When Florida missed the subsequent field goal it was all over but the shouting because after the Upshaw sack, Florida only mustered 46 more yards (after gaining 176 in the first two quarters).

So, Alabama now sits with a perfect record of 5-0 and has shut down the conference’s best passing team in Arkansas and the best running team in Florida.  Meanwhile the running game has begun to click with some of the best blocking we’ve seen since the illustrious Hogs in Washington.  Honestly, now that we’ve settled on Five Guys who love Burgers and Fries, we are blowing thru D-lines like a 40 year old’s colon getting prepped for a colonoscopy.  And, given the pictures of Muschamp on the sidelines, I think he probably felt like he’d been given a rectal exam when Saturday night concluded.  Bend over and BOOM, MF!  And, with that, it’s time for the NOTES…….you rectum?

OFFENSE

This story begins and ends with big #3.  Last week I told you that the worst place to be on Saturday would be one on one with Trent Richardson and this past Saturday night is a testament to that.  On Trent’s 36 yard TD run the Florida safety conveniently “took a bad angle” that allowed TR to scamper untouched into the end zone.  Why would he do that?  Because Trent gouged the UF defense for 181 rushing yards and another 27 receiving yards.  But, by my personal count (yes, I actually hit pause, rewind, slow mo and came up with this number) Trent had 98 yards AFTER CONTACT!  As I watched him move pile after pile after pile, I realized that whether he had a crease or not, the young man was going to go as far as he could go on every carry.  YAC.  Yards after contact.   Yards after collision.  Or, in Florida terms, Your Ass Contracts, because every time you see big #3 coming at you, you know you pucker up for a good belt right in the kisser.  After this performance, the much maligned line & backfield now ranks #1 in the SEC and #13 in the country in rushing (229.8 avg).  That’s the attack I think we all envisioned coming into the season and, after watching the line work as a unit against Arky and UF, I think we’re gellin like a felon, fellas.

I was surprised that we didn’t continue with the no huddle that we employed against Arkansas, as that’s been Saban’s M.O. against defensive teams that he felt they could not manhandle up front.  So, I think that tells you all that needs to be said about his thoughts coming into this game.  Nick knew he could pound UF into submission.  However, Alabama threw a TON on first down including our first four first downs and fourteen overall.  That’s a lot of throws on first down.  The results were mixed as AJ went a modest 7 of 14 on first down and 5 of 11 on his other throws.  To the good, the OL was just as good at pass protecting as they were at road grading as AJ was never sacked and only hit one time (which resulted in a roughing the passer penalty – still don’t know how he got that one to Trent).  Once again, though, AJ’s downfield passing left a lot to be desired as he wrong-shouldered some wide open throws or just flat out missed open receivers.  However, his best pass came on third and 8 from his own 10.  I was surprised Saban even let AJ attempt a pass given that he was up 14 points and deep in his own territory so that speaks of the amount of trust Saban has for AJ.  Maze made a ridiculous catch along the sidelines that resulted in a critical first down and helped drive the final nail in the coffin as Bama scored a TD on that drive to make it 31-10.

OHHH Line:  That’s the “When Harry Met Sally” ohhh, by the way.  The offensive line did a spectacular job of opening holes for the backs and, as I mentioned above, they gave up ZERO sacks.  On the road.  ZERO.  Their team blocking and their assignments were stellar.  On TR’s 36 yard jaunt to the end zone, he was untouched as Warmack and Steen blew a hole so wide and devastating that Fluker was just standing there with no one to block.  Time and time again Vlachos, Warmack and Steen were creating such a surge that TR was at full gallop five or more yards downfield before being bumped.  You began to see this against Arkansas and the Florida game was just further proof.  Our OL is Stout, and I think they’ve taken to the teachings of new OL coach Jeff Stoutland.

Boom Boom, Ackalacka Boom Boom:  Was Not Was?  Anyone?  Walk the Dinosaur?  Anyway, the opening offensive remarks about Trent sum this up but it bears repeating.  98 yards gained after contact.  181 rushing.  27 receiving.  He even sprung the key block on Maze’s bubble screen that ended at the Florida 1 yard line!  BTW – if you still have the game recorded, look at the 3rd and 14 play late in the first quarter.  Watch the design.  TR throws the lead block by releasing like a banshee out of the backfield.  Key block on a bubble screen.  Think about how far that is.  And, he waxed that dude…

Wild Boys, Wild Boys:  Alabama unveiled the Wildcat for the first time this season and while it gained 26 yards in only three carries, it was interesting in HOW and WHEN they used it.  The last three plays Trent was in on, he ran the Wildcat and then they took him out of the game.  Just a little sumpin for teams to chew on – they showed it only to show it and make teams worry about it.  Funny gamesmanship for the future.

Short People Got No Reason:  Nice to see us bang in a couple of 3rd and 1s and a first and goal from the one yard line.  AJ scored again (yes, I said again b/c he was in last week!) on the QB sneak.  Nice to see us not throw the ball there – no reason to throw.  In fact, it was refreshing to see us line up and bang out a couple of third and threes!

Jukebox Hero:  No songs will ever be sung about Chris Underwood but I’m gonna give the kid a shout out here.  Do you even know who he is?  What position?  Number?  I doubt you went three for three on those questions.  Underwood found himself as a lead blocker several times as an H back or a FB and each time he delivered critical blocks for Trent.  Outstanding job by a no name kid who’s worked hard to get himself some PT.

DEFENSE

Yeah, I should have led with this group given their ability to absolutely remove Florida’s manhood in this game.  This bears repeating.  Florida came in AVERAGING 259 yards on the ground.  They gained a total of 15 yards.  After shutting down the high powered passing attack of Arkansas, Bama throttled the rushing attack of the “mighty” Gators.  It was a no lo contendere for the entire evening on the ground.  Meanwhile, Jabba the Weiss’ kitchen sink offense amounted to “go long” and little else.  Early on, UF was able to isolate speedy WRs on our safeties but Smart outsmarted UF and switched to a nasty little zone.  Of course, when Upshaw & friends crashed into and upset the kitchen table, all was lost for Florida.

Cody Mandell was solid punting the football against one of the nation’s most electric returners. Mandell averaged 39.8 yards on five punts, all of which landed inside the 20-yard line.

Facing its biggest test of the year, it held Florida to 15 yards on 29 attempts. Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey combined for 8 yards.

four solo tackles. Three were for a loss, and his one sack knocked Florida quarterback John Brantley out for the game.

But the biggest play Upshaw made wasn’t a tackle or a sack. Upshaw put the Crimson Tide on top when he intercepted a John Brantley pass and took it 45 yards for the touchdown. It was Upshaw’s first career interception, and second career touchdown. He recovered a fumble for a touchdown against Kentucky in 2009.

Half of the points Alabama’s defense has given up this season have been in the first quarter

Before Upshaw’s interception Florida was averaging 9.3 yards per offensive play. Afterward it managed only 2.2.

Last week the Crimson Tide faced the SEC’s top passing offense as Arkansas was averaging 346.7 yards, followed by the No. 1 rushing team, Florida (259.0). The Razorbacks threw for 209 yards and the Gators ran for 15 while Alabama won by nearly the identical score (38-14, 38-10). Also, the longest carry by a Florida running back was 7 yards.

of Florida’s 29 rushing plays 11 resulted in negative yards

Statistical comparison: Richardson running out of the wildcat reminded some of the way Mark Ingram did in his statement game against South Carolina en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. Here’s how Richardson’s numbers this season size up against Ingram’s first five games of 2009 (although It should be noted that Ingram had 172 rushing yards and 246 in weeks 6 and 7).

Ingram 2009
Opponent, rushing yards, receiving yards, offensive yards, TDs

Virginia Tech 150, 35, 185, 2
Fla. International 56, 47, 103, 1
North Texas 91, 38, 129, 2
Arkansas 50, 21,71, 2
Kentucky 140, 6, 146, 2
Averages 97.4, 29.4, 126.8, 1.8
Season 118.4, 23.9, 142.3, 1.4

Richardson 2011
Opponent, rushing yards, receiving yards, total yards, TDs

Kent State 37, 16, 53, 3
Penn State 111, 19, 130, 2
North Texas 167, 1, 168, 3
Arkansas 126, 85 211, 1
Florida 181, 32, 213, 2
Averages 124.4, 29.6, 154, 2.2