Howdy folks! I trust you all had a good weekend! Well, here it is – the write up that you’ve all been waiting for! But, I don’t mean since this past Saturday – I mean for the past 52 Saturdays. I don’t mean from three days ago – I mean from three hundred sixty some odd days ago. NEVER AGAIN! As long of a wait as it has been for us fans, I promise you it’s been a much longer wait for the Bama players. In December of last year, players were greeted with posters of Cam Newton celebrating at Bryant Denny with a headline at the top that said “NEVER AGAIN!” At bowl practices – “Never Again!” During their fourth quarter program – “Never Again!” At all the spring practices – “Never Again!” Posted at daily workouts – “Never Again!” And, finally, the mantra for the entire season – NEVER AGAIN! After watching the game Saturday, I have to say that “never” is an awfully long time but I sure can’t see it happening “again” for a very long time. As you all know, Saturday was a big time recruiting weekend for Auburn and you know the recruits were blown away by what they saw…by Alabama, of course! This likely will be a year where that silly 25 scholarship limit will impact us because we just don’t have enough supply for the demand! Damn you Houston Nutt (for when he signed like 37 kids to schollies, we were all done for)! Down years in Florida, Tennessee, Auburn and both schools in Mississippi mean an embarrassment of riches for us in recruiting. With this being the case, Never Again becomes almost prophetic for the long term future it would seem! ROLL TIDE!
So much to cover, it’s hard to know where to begin other than, well, the beginning. As Auburn ran out of their tunnel thru puffs of smoke, I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s where there football team has gone – up in smoke. This year’s AU squad bears little to no resemblance of last year’s crew. Perhaps the smoke was a part of the smoke and mirrors approach that has led them to the cluster that it is today. It makes me giggle that the team theme song that they enter the stadium to “All I Do is Win” by DJ Khaled because as they took the field you heard “I got money on my mind, I can’t never get enough…” Subtle.
So, pretty much from the opening montage, I was having a good time and, of course, it would only get better! Even Verne was on his game as he actually knew where he was on Saturday, even if he doesn’t understand what the dead of winter actually means. (Note to Verne: All of the leaves fall off the trees by late November so ALL of the trees look dead, dumbass. I imagined Verne driving down the road to his house exclaiming “My God, Updyke has poisoned ALL of the trees everywhere!!”) At any rate, with the exception of the usual Verne drivel and a couple of gift wrapped AU touchdowns, Saturday was a perfect Saturday of college football. An embarrassing performance by AU, a convincing win by Bama, a convincing Heisman performance and a shot at the national title – what more can a Bama fan want? Oh, yeah, maybe we might ask for another trick play…as in “RUN ANOTHER TRICK PLAY, BITCH!” (more on this in a moment)……but with that…and a ROLL TIDE…it’s on to the Notes!
In my W2W4 (thank you to several of you for the compliments) before the game, I had a feeling the game would go like it did. Offensively, we said that AU should get pounded on the ground. They did. We said if AU committed to stopping the run, we’d be able to throw deep on them. We did. We said Trent would get a large number of touches and would have a Heisman performance. He did. We said we’d push AU back to their goal line in the second half by pounding on them with the running game. We did. All in all, we witnessed very few surprises on offense. We’ve previously mentioned that in big games, Bama likes to throw first and run second. While it certainly was a surprise that Trent only had four touches in the first quarter, AJ’s 11 for 12 start in the passing game clearly showed that’s what the AU defense was giving us. Of course, later in the game, Trent clearly made up for it with a ton of touches and carnage (poor Chris Davis).
One fascinating thing that Danielson (who I love – he is a straight shooter and typically is dead on with his analysis) pointed out was the tremendous amount of movement with the Bama tight ends. We’d heard that Bama would be utilizing the TEs against LSU but that never seemed to materialize. In this game, the TEs flip flopped more times than Urban Meyer behind a podium. They’d start as WRs and shift down onto the line. They’d start on the line and shift out as WRs. Smelley was a WR, TE, H back and fullback – it’s no wonder they completely lost him in the secondary. As Danielson said, it looks so simple but the movement and the usage of the TEs really makes it hard to align properly. The Patriots are doing this with Hernandez and Gronkowski and they are changing the way offense is played in the NFL. Alabama has been able to gain a numbers advantage at the point of attack thru most of the season and it’s because of the use and movement of their TEs. McElwain gets much maligned but, remember, he doesn’t have total control of the offense. Those that think Mac does have total control have been sipping a little too much spiked Saban-ade. However, the design of the play to Smelley was gorgeous. Play action, flow to the right while Smelley leaks out and up into green, green open pasture with only the aromatic cow patties around him to trip over. Gorgeous. Our play action game was really outstanding. Great plan and design by J-Mac…
Strike a Pose: Honestly, Trent Richardson is one bad mofo. I have so many notes of just “WOW.” Whether he was picking up a blitzing Tiger on the flea flicker (maybe the best play he made all day) or he was carrying a literal 8 pack of Aubies for 10 yards, Saturday was Trent’s day. Seriously. If you still have the game, go to early in the third quarter with 3rd and 4 at the AU 28. Trent is untouched for the first six yards and then carries 8 Tigers for another 10 yards. Sick. The 35 yard run earlier in that drive showed his speed and strength as he punished #12 and cause Chris Davis to whiff. Another fun run was a 5 yard gain from our own 5 in the third quarter. He hits the pile and the entire pile moves three yards. On the day, 27 carries for a career high 203 yards and one TD catch. There wasn’t anything he didn’t do Saturday. Heck, he even toweled off the OL and TEs on the sidelines. Strike that pose, dawg!!
The Run: Bama is calling this the “Defining Moment” and maybe it is for the AU game. I submit to you guys that the run Trent had against Ole Miss was his defining Heisman run. But, this 57 yarder was sick, too. The first 15 yards were virtually an open sprint as Warmack and Smelley cleared a huge path. Once he got hemmed to the sidelines, the focus turned to his Aubie toss as Trent swatted away Thorpe with ease (I thought I saw a puddy caaaaaaaaaat). But, watch closer. On his cut/Aubie toss, two other Tigers had a bead on him. Instead of hitting Trent, Chris Davis and another Tiger crushed each other in a comedic attempt to tackle T-Rich and that allowed Trent to burst another 30 yards. The final cut was yet another Aubie toss as he flung #6 off of him like dandruff off a T-town Menswear suit. Simply an amazing run by an amazing athlete.
The BEAST: One carry. One stiff arm sending #38’s face to the turf. One more whiff by Davis. One quick 15 yard TD. He. Is. Jalston. Fowler. BOOM!
Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better: Anyone else notice this? It was almost like Nick was playing mind games with Malzahn a few times during the game. Ohhh, you want a sugar huddle. On the Fowler TD, we did a “sugar huddle” like AU unsuccessfully tried several times. Of course, ours went for a TD. Ohh, you want a trick play with lineman? We’ll split Barrett Jones out in the slot and have him draw everyone’s attention while we slip Williams into the end zone uncovered. THAT is how you run a slicky tricky, bitch!
Finally: We finally gave the ball to a WR on the speed sweep. I’d been begging all year for this and we finally did it! Of course, Maze slipped down and gained only one yard. Sigh.
Apropos: Wasn’t it apropos that a kid named Smelley would have a big day in the big cow pasture? I mean, who writes this stuff? What a tremendous, tremendous game Mr Smelley had. Blocking. Catching. Running. Amazing. Perhaps his best play was a simple run after the catch during the first quarter. He caught a screen and appeared to be in trouble but some slick running and determination got us a crucial first down on a third down. That play continued the drive that led to the flea flicker TD, of course.
Where’d WHO go?: Poor Chris Davis. Every time there was a big Bama play, Davis was involved. On the flea flicker, the senior Maze didn’t do a good sell job at all on the run so he was covered up easily. However, Kenny Bell sold the run and Davis bit hard. One missed step and Bell was 10 yards behind Davis faster than a Pat Dye cough. If you look on the end zone view, Michael Williams puts up the TD signal with Bell at the 10 and the ball still in flight. Sweet play!
What the…..?: I counted four times that I had to go back to figure out who the big guy was that was pulling out in front of Trent. Warmack, Steen and McCullough are the usual guys. Vlachos has pulled several times this season as well. But, this big dude was not any of those guys. For maybe the second time or first time all season (I’m old and my memory gets fuzzy), big Barrett Jones was out in front pulling from his Tackle position. This is very unusual and he was very effective doing it. Of course, he’s better suited for G, so it’s not a surprise that he was effective – just kinda weird to see a big tackle pulling….
What can you say? Total and complete domination. Malzahn supposedly threw the kitchen sink at us Saturday and it was comical. In fact, at the 5:43 mark in the first quarter, Scott Cochran can clearly be heard screaming “Run another trick play, bitch!” As I pointed out above, Saban even seemed to mock some of the “trickeration” that Guz and Co tried. Nothing worked. Auburn’s O got worked instead. LSU and Alabama play a man’s game in the trenches. If you don’t have some strength up front, you are going to get drop kicked all day long by our beasties. Bama spent as much time in AUs backfield as Kiel Frazier did – probably more so. Dyer led them in rushing with 43 yards. Moseley led them in passing with 62 yards. Thru three quarters, Auburn had 44 yards of total offense and TWO first downs. This is what you call complete and total domination. DOMINATE is one of Saban’s credos. Remember what he said on his first day? We’ll work to dominate our in state opponent every single day we are here. Dominate indeed…
Back Breaker: With Alabama holding onto a 13 point lead, Milliner intercepted another woeful pass from Moseley and began weaving his way to the end zone. Upshaw had a crazy good block on Reed that nearly sent him back to Louisiana and Milliner was able to do the rest. Ironically, Trooper Taylor was woofing at Dre two plays earlier and then this happened. Game. Set. Match.
But Wait, There’s More: Milliner actually stood out during the entire game. He was solid in run support and shed a couple of blocks to make some really tough open field tackles. Milliner was a man among boys (no Syracuse basketball jokes, please). But, then, our entire team was really men among boys…
The Tell: I don’t know what it is about this offense and the Florida offense but Nick & Smart read it like a book. Maybe they were the two who read Chizik’s book. Anyway, each time AU would motion their speed sweep guy, one of our safties/DBs would fly up into the area they were running to. It was comical how easily we shut this down. Candy from a baby Gussy.
Nutcracker: BTW, anyone see the Kristi Malzahn rant? My God! That woman is a lunatic! Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jg8sRYr7ars . Chickie with an attitude – it’s no wonder Gus is a little distracted. He’s trying to get his nuts out of her mason jar! Wow…Kristi, SHUT UP!
Jesse’s Girls: It may not show on the stat sheet but Jesse’s got himself a top game performance. Nearly every single play had #54 bursting thru the line and wreaking havoc along the AU line. He was unblockable. Given a month to get healthy, he could be the game changer we need in New Orleans. “I’ll be watching him with these eyes…”
Cousin Vinnie: Called into duty due to Mark Barron’s neck/ribs injury, Vinnie Sunseri had himself a huge game. He made four solo tackles where he was in space against Frazier, Dyer and McCaleb. Each time, Vinnie stood tall and brought his guy down. He played a fantastic game. Incidentally, not to toot my horn here, but we told you Vinnie was a player back when he played in the Under Armour All Star Game. That game and the Army All American game are fast approaching and I encourage those of you who follow recruiting to tune in and watch the future. We also spotted DePriest in that UA All Star game but I digress.
Find a Happy Place: Twice during the game, I had to look at my buddy and just laugh. Reed got the ball on a reverse and he just flat out falls down in fear of Jerrell Harris. Later, Moseley was in the pocket and Upshaw rushed by and breathed on him. Moseley cowered down and flopped into the fetal position. “Find a happy place” from Dumb and Dumber came to mind. For AU, there was no happy place on Saturday.
No Soup For You: Auburn had unsuccessfully used a sugar huddle on third and short earlier so it was vexing when they went with it again. To make matters worse, they lined up Dyer in the wildcat a full six yards behind the line of scrimmage on fourth and 1. Bama caved in the line and Dyer predictably lost two yards. Silly Gussy, tricks are for kids!
Lutzen-breakin: I thought we were going to have to get a CSI team out there to look for Lutzenkirchen’s leg after Milliner popped him. WHACK! #43 was limping the rest of the game and was a non-factor. BTW – on the season, Smelley has more catches, TDs and yards than AU’s TE.
You know, outside of the kickoff return, it was a decent day. Listen, I still have confidence in Shelley. He’s 15 of 18, minus the ridiculous attempt he was asked to make against LSU, and that’s pretty dang solid. Foster is Australian for shank but Shelley ain’t smelley. Meanwhile, the much made fun of Cody “Dammit I ain’t Barbara” Mandell had his best game of the season. Punts of 39, 44, and 38 all resulted in fair catches for an outstanding net punting game. Foster even had two touchbacks. I’m still disappointed in the kick and punt return game as it was as strength early and hasn’t been heard from lately. I’d like the return to return, please…
The kick coverage obviously continues to be woeful. Dreadful. Painful Hell, Nick actually sent Shelley in there to kick a grounder when he got so upset with the coverage team. What I wouldn’t give for a kicker who can blast the ball thru the end zone – then it wouldn’t matter. I hate to say I told you so but the W2W4 told you they’d likely break one. Well, LSU’s return game is much, much better than AU’s, so you do the math. Gotta fix this some year soon.
I’ll throw some stat funage at you at the end of this little rant but I just have to get this in. As I alluded to above, there is NOTHING to indicate that the balance of power in the state won’t be colored Crimson for the next few years. Alabama continues to bring in 4 and 5 star studs while AU tries to convince kids that it’s more fun to play at AU. Looking along the AU sidelines, they didn’t appear to be having too much fun to me. Factor in AU’s certain upheaval on the defensive side of the ball (and perhaps the offensive side of the ball if Gus can get a quickie divorce) and the general lack of talent at QB and the offensive line and you have domin-Saban. Saban-ation. Whatever you want to call it. NEVER AGAIN looks to hold true for quite a few years.
Now we turn our heads (and cough?) to this weekend’s games. Obviously it would be helpful to have Oklahoma win the Bedlam game and for Dabo and Clemson to win against Va Tech. The key game is the OU game and that’s the one we need to watch. There IS a sentiment to keep two SEC schools from playing each other and, while that sentiment is not held in the coaches polls, there may be a few voters who slip Bama down and move Ok State up. Right now, there is a wide chasm between the two, so it would take a near reversal of the voters for this to happen. But. It’s out there. I will counter that the LSU v Alabama game was the second highest rated college football game since 1989 and you KNOW the TV people will want to have that matchup once again. ESPN continues to say LSU and Alabama are clearly the two best teams in the country and I think, in the end, the voters & the BCS will get it right.
As for the Heisman, it’s a two man race. Luck v Richardson. To me, it’s a no brainer unless the anti-SEC sentiment rears its ugly head here. Trent has done his work against the best the country has to offer. Luck has worked against the worst defenses in the country. But, Luck came back to school when he could have gone pro – we’ll see if voters factor that in. I have a sneaky suspicion Trent will be the bridesmaid in this competition as the voters may vote for Bama in the polls but Luck in the Heisman.
Here is some statistical fun for you all – ROLL TIDE!
- For the season, Alabama’s 48 penalties trail only Navy (26) and San Jose State (40), and Army (44), and Army has yet to play Navy
- The Crimson Tide finished the regular season by leading the nation in pass-efficiency defense (83.97 rating), pass defense (116.33 yards per game), rushing defense (74.92), scoring defense (8.83 points), and total defense (191.25 yards per game).
Here are the second-best teams in each category.
- Pass-efficiency defense: South Carolina 92.42 (Note: the only four teams with a rating below 100 are all in the SEC, with LSU and Georgia third and fourth, and Penn State fifth at 100.04).
- Pass defense: South Carolina 133,0
- Rushing defense: Florida State 81.83
- Scoring defense: LSU 10.58
- Total defense: LSU 248.42 (a difference of 57.17 yards).
Defensive numbers vs. national championship teams
2011: Rushing: 74.9; Passing: 116.3; Pass efficiency: 83.97; Total: 191.3; Scoring: 8.8; Turnovers: 1.5; Third downs: 25.0; TFL: 7.0; 1st downs: 10.5.
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
Auburn 30, 21, 51, 0
Total 1429, 225, 1654, 15
Averages 119.1, 18.8, 137.8, 1.25
Season 118.4, 23.9, 142.3, 1.4
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
Tennessee 77, 33, 103, 2
LSU 89, 80, 169, 0
Miss. State 127, 26, 153, 1
Ga. Southern 175, 4, 179, 3
Auburn 203, 5, 208, 1
Totals 1583, 327, 1910, 23
Averages 131.9, 27.2, 159.2, 1.92