Ga Southern Review
I apologize that there was no MississippiState write up. You’d assume that the MSU game simply wasn’t worthy of a write up (which quite honestly is fairly true) but that’s not the only reason there was no write up. You see, I have been going to various doctors in order to get some help. Sadly, there appeared to be no help for me. In fact none of the local docs around here could do anything about my condition. Finally, a doctor from Eugene, Oregon put me on the right track. Then we got a consult from a gentleman located in Ames, Iowa and that nearly fixed the issue entirely. But, once I visited with the last two doctors on my list (one in Waco, Texas and one in Los Angeles), I was finally cured. That’s right, it took assistance from doctors from Oregon, IowaState, Baylor and USC to finally find a way to remove my head from my ass. Oh what a relief it is! New Orleans here we come!!!
I think I may have mentioned in my last write up that I was about as despondent about the LSU loss as I have been about ANY Alabama football game in a long, long time. While I knew that, logically, there was every reason to believe that we still had opportunities to get into the championship game, I just knew we’d get overlooked because, quite honestly, we had our chance already. If we had just beaten LSU, none of the rest would matter. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Well, whodathunk that we’d sit here today with a better chance of being in the BCS championship game than LSU has. Beat AU and we are in. LSU has to beat Arky & then a much improved UGA team before their ticket will be punched for the big game. What a strange and goofy college football world we live in. But, as Frasier Crane once responded when asked why men get to date younger women while women cannot date younger men, “Honey, I don’t make the rules – I just enjoy them.” I guess that’s all we can do as Bama fans now – just enjoy the rules and grin our way to New Orleans.
So, with Alabama’s fortunes turning Friday night when IowaState beat OklahomaState, the expectation for last Saturday afternoon was that Bama would come out guns a blazin’. Hey – the BCS is right there for the taking! Let’s go! Well, that was the expectation of many, but not me. The triple option offense (a la Ga Tech, Navy and Air Force) is quite a handful to stop. And, Ga State’s usage of the option keeps the clock running and limits possessions so my guess was that the score wasn’t going to quite be what we were looking for or hoping for. Little did I know Ga Southern would rack up over 300 yards of rushing offense and post the most points against our defense this season. Wowzers. Let’s be honest, though. Cecil Hurt nailed it when he said Ga Southern and Ga State might look the same off the rack but, when you get them home, you realize they are entirely different animals. Additionally, I think whoever scheduled Ga Southern before AU should have their head examined. Not only is their offense totally unique and difficult to prepare for, they cut block like crazy. What is a cut block? A cut block is when an opponent targets your knees in an effort to get you on the ground. You can play winning football with smaller players this way and Ga Southern hasn’t won six national championships by accident. Thankfully, that game is over and we rested some key players (though not all our key players – more later) and now we are ready for revenge. NEVER AGAIN! Grilled eagle, anyone???? On to the Notes!
Did you know we didn’t punt all day long? Every possession ended with a place kicker coming on for either an extra point or a FG. Weird, huh? It seemed like we struggled at times with the pace or rhythm of the running game and we certainly made a mind numbing amount of stupid penalties (in the 11th game of the season????) during the game. But, when you looked up, we had racked up nearly 500 yards of offense and never punted. Credit, gasp, AJ McCarron for some HUGE plays during the game. Maybe he’s slowly gaining confidence in himself and in the coaching staff. As Jack Palance once said, “Confidence is sexy, don’t you think?” Yeah, Jack, I think it is! Hopefully AJ will be a very sexy man on Saturday against AU, too…
The one disappointment (besides the wide array of stupid, stupid penalties) was that Trent carried the ball 32 times against Ga Southern. By contrast, he carried the ball 18 times against LSU. Think about that. At any rate, Trent posted some big time stats. Whoo hoo. In my opinion, Fowler should have been used far earlier than with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. With the AU game coming up and Lacy still suffering from turf toe, I simply don’t understand why Fowler and even Blake Sims didn’t get a few touches. Thirty two carries. Against a AA opponent. Folks, that’s not good! And, did you notice Trent gimping off the field to the sidelines in the 4th quarter? Apparently he was cramping b/c he dropped to the ground as soon as he got to the sidelines and the staff began working on his calves. That’s SCARY! It’s disappointing to me that we had to blow the doors off of our Lamborghini in what should have amounted to a school zone.
Lack of Confidence? On our first possession, facing a third and 8 from the Ga Southern 18, we went with a Trent run instead of a pass. Very conservative and, to me, it underlined the lack of confidence the staff suddenly has in AJ.
It’s Good: I’ll be alone in this opinion but, hey, nothing new there, right? Everyone has this perception that our entire kicking game has gone in the crapper. I’d submit that Shelley should not be a part of that discussion. Shelley missed one kick and it was from 49 yards out against LSU. Cade is in a slump. Shelley? Not so much. I think the kid is ok. He drilled his first opportunity against Ga Southern and, if he trots out to kick a game winner, I bet you he makes it. Cade? Eh….(more in a second)
TE or WR? Numerous times against Ga Southern, Bama used a two TE formation. In fact, we’ve been banging away with 2 and 3 TEs all year. But, Saturday, we shifted them out into WR positions, thereby giving a 4 WR look with two TEs. This presents some formation issues for the D and is an ingenious way to get a heavy blocking presence on the flanks.
Clutch: AJ was faced with several third and longs against Ga Southern thanks to penalties and whiffs by Vlachos at the line of scrimmage. Each time, AJ delivered the mail whether it was a huge pass to Brandon Gibson, a patient TD strike to Smelley or a beautiful square in to Maze. AJ delivered time and time again and hopefully gained a bit of the confidence that seemed to be lost during the LSU game.
Get Your Ga Southern Backpacks Here: Dude. Did anyone see the little Ga Southern guy that jumped on Lacy’s back two yards deep in the backfield? Lacy’s shoulders were even square to the sideline when the guy hopped aboard and, eight yards later, it looked like the Ga Southern kid put a quarter in and went for a ride. As Kramer would say, “Giddy up!!!!”
Rise Above: I have never, ever seen this play in all the years I have watched football. In a goal line set, Trent carried the ball off the left side into a mass of humanity. Suddenly, after about five yards, you saw Trent’s helmet rise. Then you saw his neck rise up. Then you saw his shoulder pads and, finally, you could almost see his number as he was easily and literally head and shoulders above his competition. The weird thing was that he hovered above everyone and CONTINUED TO GAIN YARDS! OMG, as the kids say! Honestly, this was the coolest thing I’ve seen on the football field. It was like he levitated himself down the field on the wings of…..Eagles! (Ga So’s mascot)
All Wheel Drive: The drive where we made the score 24-7 in the second quarter was a painful glimpse at the difference between the talent of Alabama and Ga Southern. Whether it was Richardson or Lacy, we constantly battered the Eagles down the field and usually four defenders at a time. After the backpack carry reference above, Lacy’s next carry found himself covered up with five Eagle defenders. Five yards later, he mercifully went down, scattering the five Ga Southern boys like bowling pins. Trent finished the onslaught but pushing a wall of defenders into the end zone with ease. Wow.
Beast: Jalston Fowler is a man. That is all…
Blitzkrieg: In our spread formations, look for the opposition to employ lots and lots of blitzes coming off our slot receivers. Ga Southern had a tremendous amount of success with this. Watch against AU as they employ the same tactic.
Swimsuit Competition: In this BCS mess (which I used to call BS until we found a way to back door our way into the championship game), style matters. Beauty is in the eye of the score watcher and, with that in mind, it was no surprise that with a minute left, Nick called for a play action throw to Brad Smelley for the final margin. If not for the BCS and the need for style points, I think Saban kneels the ball there. But, knowing the voters look more favorably on 45-21 than 38-21, Nick dialed up the play action throw for a TD with a minute remaining. Sad. But true. And necessary.
Three. Hundy. Rushing. Ouch. The cruelest cut of all was the FB that raced 82 yards for a TD. That little man blew thru our D like they were statues on the Walk of Champions and only Lester had a chance to bring him down. Lester was giving chase and he was barely gaining any ground on the ball carrier. Then, #22 for the Eagles appeared on the scene, blowing past EVERYONE as thought they were standing still. His block on Lester assured that the Eagles would score the TD. Wow. That was a tremendous amount of speed on display. The blocking was superb almost all day long and, as we rotated guys you’ve never heard of (Pagan & Ivory to name a couple) on the DL, you found out that guys like Josh Chapman and Nick Gentry are pretty invaluable. Jesse Williams was out b/c of food poisoning, as well. What a long, long day in the trenches for us.
Dead Legs: Think of ANY impressive plays you saw from the defense. Recall any? Sure, Menzie had a pass breakup. Dial and Square each had tackles for loss. But, Nico Johnson, Hightower, Dre and Lester made seemingly no plays at all. In watching the tape on Hightower, he seemed like he had dead legs. Honestly, the vast majority of the group looked tired. Hopefully they were saving up for AU but after tough trench warfare against LSU and MSU, I simply don’t think they had the legs or the drive to go toe to toe with another physical football team.
Alignments: It was really impressive to watch us try to play chess with our alignments. We were in a 3-4, then a 4-3. We gave a 5-2 look. We played our LBs back close to the safeties. We played them up to the line of scrimmage. We shifted one MLB up close to the line of scrimmage and kept one back in a rover type look. We were all over the place in our alignments and, while some was effective, the main times we were able to make plays were simply the times we beat a man in a one on one match up. Ga Southern audibled to the right play every single time. Fourteen years of coaching this option attack means fourteen years of knowledge on how to attack each front. Each audible resulted in them outnumbering us to the outside. Very impressive.
What Happened: On the long run, Pagan was playing DE and he just stood there. That was pretty much the story. His responsibility was the dive play and he was standing still trying to figure out who had the ball. Swope broke into the second line where Nico got blocked and Dre was simply too slow (as he was all day) to get to the spot. Our last hope was Mark Barron, who also got blocked. Then it was a foot race that they surprisingly won with their back AND their WR who tossed Lester out of the way with ease.
Nose to Nose: The key to a 3-4 look is the nose tackle. Think Terrance Cody. With our top three NTs out, we were left with Brandon Ivory. Ivory spent most of his day as roadkill in the middle of the line.
Red Barron: There was one guy who showed up on tape all day long for Alabama. Be thankful that Mark hurt himself against AU last year (well, sorta, I mean he would have picked off that Cam TD pass at the beginning of the third quarter if he’d been healthy) because otherwise we’d have to wait until Sunday to see him play. Instead, Barron brings a first round talent and a head hunter attitude to every Alabama game and, while the rest of the D was sleep walking, Barron was head hunting. Dude is a stud.
Whether it was the blocked kick for a TD, a nice return by Maze or a touchback by Cade Foster, it was a good day for most of the special teams. The bad news was that Will Lowery tore his ACL on one kickoff and, of course, Ga Southern housed a kickoff return for a TD. Sigh. Another massive kick return. I think the only answer is find some kid with a howitzer attached to his leg b/c if the other team returns the ball against us, they’ve got a chance. I’d been blowing this off but it’s a full on epidemic problem now. AU has a couple of guys that can take it to the house themselves so I’m officially worried here. But, again, to the good, we didn’t even have to punt so Cody “Barbara” Mandell should be well rested for the game.
Touchback: Did anyone see the crowd of people who swarmed around Cade after the touchback? I thought that was really cool. You could almost hear Cade saying, “They like me, they really, really like me!” The team is trying hard to rally against this much maligned kicker.
Well Struck: Yep. Cade missed another FG attempt. That’s the bad or, as it’s become lately, the expected. However, I give you folks the light at the end of the tunnel. Between the touchback and this FG attempt, Cade struck the ball the best he’s struck it all year. I laughed and said “that FG would have been no good from 60 yards” but the fact is that he struck the ball beautifully. Yes, folks, “I’m telling you there’s a chance!” Hey may make another FG just yet…
I’m cutting it short b/c you are tired and I’m ready for Turkey Day festivities. I wish each and every one of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for so many things and one of those things is your readership. I appreciate all of the kind words and feedback over the couple of years that I’ve done that. Your feedback is always welcome (good, bad or ugly) and it tickles me to know that some of you actually eagerly anticipate this coming out. I apologize it’s been a little slow over the last couple of weeks. Like our D, I, too, need to step it up a notch!!! J
I will do my very best to send out a W2W4 for the AU game. I have a few thoughts on the game and I’ll share them at that time.
Again, happy Thanksgiving to you and your families….I hope it’s Turkey today and Eagle on Saturday!
Here are some stats that folks are keeping an eye on. Enjoy!
Courtesy of BamaOnline:
Here’s a quick update on two things Alabama fans are watching closely this season.
Defensive numbers vs. national championship teams
2011: Rushing: 74.6; Passing: 121.3; Pass efficiency: 84.79; Total: 195.9; Scoring: 8.4; Turnovers: 1.5; Third downs: 25.0; TFL: 7.1; 1st downs: 10.6.
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.
Richardson 2011 vs. 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
Tennessee 99, 0, 99, 0
LSU 144, 0, 144, 0
Miss.State 149, 9, 158, 2
Tenn.-Chatt. 102, 0, 102, 2
Total 1,399, 204, 1603, 15
Averages 127.2, 18.5, 145.7, 1.4
Season 118.4, 23.9, 142.3, 1.4
Opponent, rushing yards, receiving yards, total yards, TDs
KentState 37, 16, 53, 3
PennState 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
Tennessee 77, 33, 103, 2
LSU 89, 80, 169, 0
Miss.State 127, 26, 153, 1
Ga. Southern 175, 4, 179, 3
Totals 1380, 322, 1702, 22
Averages 125.5, 29.3, 154.7, 2.0