W2W4 (What to Watch For) – Florida Atlantic

W2W4 – Florida Atlantic

I don’t believe there will be much mystery or intrigue leading up to the game this week but I’ll do my best to make this game interesting for you all.  First, did you know that Duron Carter is finally going to get to suit up to play at Bryant-Denny Stadium?  Yep!  Of course, he’ll be wearing the FAU Owl jersey so the Bama drama concerning his status is finally over.  Or is it?  Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – the NCAA received a petition requesting that Duron Carter be allowed to play for FAU this season.  Ahh, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I know this will come as a shock to many of you but this week the NCAA finally passed down a judgment on this and, gasp, Duron Carter is, gasp, ineligible.  Sigh.

So, now that we finally established that Carter won’t play Saturday, what can we expect from the Owls?  Well, did you know FAU beat Wagner 7-3 in their first game?  It’s true!  I didn’t even know the Wagner Power Painters had a college, an enrollment or a football team but evidently they do.  You can also know that FAU lost to Georgia last week 56-20.  The Owls apparently didn’t give a Hoot about defense, as they let Georgia amass 703 yards of offense.  Oh, and the carnage actually could have been worse had UGA not committed four turnovers.  Yikes!  Georgia balanced out the Owl pain fairly evenly by gaining 335 yards on the ground and 385 thru the air.  Georgia’s two true freshman tailbacks each gained over 100 yards (on exactly 10 carries each) and, as a team, UGA rushed for an average of 7.8 yards per tote.  Folks, Alabama is going to make it a really, really long day for the Owls so I hope you are as excited as I am to see Bama’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th stringers get some valuable playing time this Saturday!

W2W4 – Alabama on Offense

Gloom.  Despair.  Agony.  These are the words that the FAU defenders will come to know during their film study this week, leading to a deep dark depression and excessive misery.  On offense, Alabama should be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want as the battered and bruised Owls will simply be looking to get home alive.  Alabama’s offensive line should be able to strap skates onto the little owls and push them around the like little feathered shopping carts.  I think AJ should have plenty of time to work on the downfield passing game but they’ll have to do it early because Nick doesn’t like to run up the score.  Look for Bama to get a good-sized lead by halftime and then they’ll let the backups have the field for the majority of the second half.  In a word, this should be Fugly.

DJ Spinderella:  The one bad item coming out of the Arkansas game was a sub-par performance by big DJ Fluker.  In fact, the big man has played the role of a turnstile as he’s been beaten by an edge rush in each of the first three games this year.  I’ll be watching to see if he can grade out much, much better this week because last week wasn’t pretty.

Shake N’ Drake:  How about my man Kenyan Drake?  Insert new man crush here (love you Jalston but, you know, this ain’t Kate and Leonardo onboard the Titanic – I gotta let you go this season)!  You’ve seen Eddie Lacy with the “B Button” spin move and you’ve seen TJ “Rebel” Yeldon with the “Y button” hurdle move.  But, neither Playstation nor Xbox has a button that does what Kenyan Drake can do.  That little stop/start move he’s using is sick!  Shake & Drake baby, Shake and Drake!  My crystal ball says Drake sets a career high in yards rushing this Saturday with two TDs.

Heart to Hart:  I loved seeing the passion and the pride that Dee took this past week when he forced the fumble on the kickoff – that was awesome!  I’ve never seen a kid so jacked up about causing a fumble!  This week, I’ll be looking to see if Hart can channel that energy into production at the RB position because, honestly, do you hear those footsteps?  I think Kenyan Drake is about to overtake him on the depth chart.  The battle between Hart and Drake is reason enough to me to either go to the game or buy the PPV.  All we need for this PPV event is Michael Buffer and, “Let’s get ready to ruuuuumble!”

Dueling Banjos:  The other battle I’ll be watching is at the QB position as Phillip Ely and Blake Sims look to continue their battle for the overall #2 QB position.  As I’ve said since the fall, if AJ were to go down, these two kids would likely split time at the QB position – chalk one up for the Lighthouse prognosticators.  Ely provides a little more of a pocket passing presence while Sims is clearly more adept at running the zone read a la Pat White at West Virginia.  The second half of FAU should give you a glimpse as to which QB the staff prefers.  The Bama Lighthouse says it will be Sims, by the way.

Line Dancing:  Coach Saban hasn’t been particularly thrilled with the second string line at any point during the season so it will be critical for them to perform against FAU.  Kelly, Shepherd and Arie K appeared to play well against Arkansas as none of them caught my eye on any missed assignments.  However, Kellen Williams and Chad Lindsay each missed more than a couple of blocks during their time in the trenches.  This is another item to watch for during the game – who among the second five can be counted on if a first stringer goes down?

No End In Sight:  I’ve been very disappointed with the play of all of the TEs not named Michael Williams.  Vogler’s blocking seems hit or miss at best and Harrison Jones seemingly hasn’t earned the trust of the coaching staff to take away any of Vogler’s reps.  Faciane missed blocks this past week and was fairly ineffective.  When the second string offensive line takes the field, these young tight ends will once again have the opportunity to prove that they are ready to handle more reps.  Will they take advantage this week????  Will another TE besides Michael Williams ever catch a pass this season?  I think yes – put me down for prognosticating that either Vogler or Jones hauls in a catch this week….

Swami Sez:  I won’t bore you with a ton of predictions for what should most certainly be a huge blowout win.  But, will it actually be a blowout???  Yes.  Will it be over at halftime?  Yes.  We should have scored in the 20’s by halftime, easily.  Will we outgain Georgia’s 703 yards?  No.  Will we outscore UGA’s 56 points?  Wow.  I think it will be close but I’ll also say no just because Nick doesn’t like to run it up.

W2W4 – Alabama on Defense

FAU lost their leading receiver last week against Georgia so, unless there’s a miraculous change in Duron Carter’s eternal eligibility issue, I doubt they’ll move the ball much thru the air.  The Owls did rush for 138 yards last week so I suspect they’ll try to run the ball, shorten the game and get back to their team buses as soon as possible.

Wild Horses:  Each time that Alabama is on defense, I always look for #42 and #47 and key on them throughout the play.  Hubbard and Dickson are dynamic players and are capable of redefining the OLB position at Alabama.  I love to see them rush the passer and disrupt the backfield and, as with every game, this is something I’ll be watching against FAU.  Get your popcorn ready!

Down Under:  There’s no question that Jesse Williams is as stout and athletic of a nose tackle as we’ve had.  He never gets moved from the middle and he’s always holding the point of attack, allowing the LBs to flow and make plays.  And he’s Australian – how fun is that?  Well, when Jesse leaves the game, that’s when I’ll really get interested this week.  Will Brandon Ivory (it’s scary how much he’s improved) and Darren Lake hold up as well as Jesse the Body?  In the Bama scheme, the nose tackle position is one of the most important positions on the field so I’ll be watching to see how these two do when the Saucy Aussie leaves the game.

Fine Young Cannibals:  I expect to see a lot of the fab freshmen linebackers who have had their redshirts removed and I suspect they’ll drive FAU crazy “like no one else.”  I love to see Devall, Lee, Hayes, and Ragland flying around the ball and making plays – “and I can’t help myself.”  It will especially be good to see Ragland back after missing the last couple of games – this kid is going to be special.

Put Yo, Put Yo Hands Up:  In the Arkansas Review, I mentioned that this group of DBs may have the best hands of any group that Saban has had thus far at the Capstone, so I’ll be interested in seeing if they’ll have the decency to prove that I’m right.  Don’t make a liar out of me, boys!  If FAU takes to the air, I look for this group to continue getting their mitts on the ball and looking for the end zone.  BTW – it’s been said that Saban teaches his defensive backs a shuffle technique instead of the traditional backpeddle.  So, at Bama “every day we’re shufflin’…”

Convoy:  I had the opportunity to take in one of Coach Saban’s coaching clinics a couple of years ago – it was awesome.  One of the speakers was a gentleman named Randy Shannon, the former Miami Hurricane’s head coach, and he gave a presentation on basically turning any turnover into what is essentially a punt return.  Once the ball is intercepted (or the fumble is picked up), each player becomes a blocker and they actually have designated players that they are assigned to take out.  The presentation was really cool and you can see it play out on the screen each time Bama gets a pick.  Pay attention this week and watch how quickly the Tide defenders quickly turn into a vicious set of blockers after a pick.

Swami Sez:  The shutout streak should extend at least three more quarters.  Alabama will create at least two more turnovers.  Either Dickson or Hubbard will get another sack.  One of our safeties will record another interception.  FAU will have under 175 yards of total offense (this is a bold one since they got 138 on the ground against UGA).  Lastly, I predict you’ll need a roster close by because you likely will not recognize a few of the jerseys on the field.

W2W4 – Alabama on Special Teams

Keep Rollin’ Rollin’:  I’ll be looking to see if Cade Foster can continue getting touchbacks this week.  He’s absolutely crushing the ball and is making me look like a genius for saying Adam Griffith would redshirt.

Return to Sender:  While Christion Jones has been reliable as a punt returner, he has yet to break one.  This past week the only thing he nearly broke was his neck – thankfully he was the beneficiary of one of the strangest “forward progress” calls I’ve ever seen.  I would have said he was down, you know, when his knee hit the ground but, hey, we can’t always be as good as the NFL replacement officials.  At any rate, I think Jones returns one over 20 yards this week.

Mandell-in Range:  That’s right, nothing describes the critical insights of punting like Bruce Hornsby and the Range.  After two weeks of blasting footballs as though they were pumped up with helium, Cody Mandell came back down to earth in a big, big way in Fayetteville.  Mandell averaged 47 yards against Michigan and 45 yards against Western Kentucky but managed only a paltry 35 yards against Arkansas.  Bruce Hornsby tells us “you don’t know what you got til you lose it all again.”  Indeed, Bruce, indeed.


Why do teams like Alabama schedule teams like Florida Atlantic?  Well, when you play in the brutally tough SEC you need a cupcake here and there to scrimmage against every once in a while.  Alabama gets four out of conference games so they select one game that will give them national exposure and then three games that are, shall we say, less challenging.  Not every team can have a Vandy, er, Kentucky on their SEC schedule so they have to place a cupcake or two on there so they can make it through a 12, 13 or 14 game season.  Additionally, opponents like FAU allow the young pups to get off the leash and make a name for themselves, thereby making sure that you never lose games due to having “a young team.”  Ahem.  Anyway, on Saturday some of the young pups will get a blue ribbon or “best in show” while others will simply go out there and pee on the carpet.  But, either way, games like FAU are a great way to see what the future looks like and they allow these puppies to grow up to be your Saturday’s best friends.



Final Score:  Alabama 55     Florida Atlantic 3



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