My friends at the Bama Sports Report, possibly the best blog out there for comprehensive Alabama Football news, are hosting the Roundtable this week. As I’m trying to get all my blog “work” out of the way early this week I’ll go ahead with my answers.
1. What are your feelings on Alabama’s current position in the polls? Are we overrated? Underrated? Just right?
Honestly, I don’t believe that Alabama should be the eleventh ranked team in the country (this is from Clemson win love and attrition). The Coaches’ rank of 17th is probably closer to reality. Doug Gillette dropped Alabama twelve spots to 25th in his poll which I think is too big a drop in comparison to other teams’ performances and rankings.
I want to believe that Alabama is a top twenty-five team and I believe that their body of work warrants that but I’m not as sold on it as I was last week. That’s one of the negatives of week non-conference games; if you don’t perform relative to outsiders expectations then you suffer in reputation. Ultimately that doesn’t matter. If this question continues on the Roundtable you’ll notice this trend; the only poll that matters is the one at the end of the season.
2. What aspect of the game did Alabama control that shocked you the most? What aspect of the game was Alabama dominated in that shocked you the most?
Without a doubt, Special Teams. Arenas is no doubt amazing and I’m not taking a thing away from him (or Upchurch and Rogers for that matter) but Tulane practiced all week without a scout team and I’m certain that had an effect on their Special Team’s performance in Saturday’s contest. Still it was great to see and will affect the way other teams approach Alabama on Special Teams for the rest of the season.
I was really disappointed in the lack of physicality of both lines. Especially in comparison to last week’s performance.
3. Name your player of the game on Offense. Also name one on Defense.
Mark Ingram, who gave a much needed spark in the running game for the offense.
Rolando McClain on defense because he was an absolute force. If the d-line continues to improve and occupy blockers this defense will be phenomenal by season’s end. McClain will be a huge reason why.
4. John Parker Wilson has been called a number of things – most of them not so nice. What do you see in your crystal ball for #14 for the balance of the season?
Most of the off-season we heard about how new OC Jim McElwain’s offense was going to help Ross’ Brother and I think our prayers were answered by his performance in the first game. There were short passes that built confidence and helped him get into rhythm. Then in the second game his first attempt – a down field route that he never took his eyes off of - was almost picked off and he never really got any better. This did not appear to be the offense we were promised or saw in the first week; I could have sworn that Major Applewhite was back in the press box.
I understand that there could be lots of reasons for this: Alabama should have been able to dominate Tulane and therefore there was no need to provide a lot of film on the “new” offense and that the patchwork O-line would not allow for the dominant run game that sets up the play action that was so effective last week. Alabama seemed to be wanting, no desperate, to make the down filed pass work. It’s really just a big mystery and I am fearful that the team will be in Athens before we really see the imagination of the first-week offense. I don’t think that means that we won’t see a more assertive O-line in the next two games because in both and most especially in Fayetteville we need to see the team put the game well away as soon as possible with time consuming drives that keep our defense off of the field.
I still believe that Wilson can be a solid quarterback. I don’t think he’ll ever be elite but He can certainly be a winner. I hope that he is anyway, there just isn’t enough of a trend to say one way or the other.
5. Considering that we rushed for 6.5 yards per carry against Tulane, and only averaged 1.6 yards on pass plays, why do you suppose that we passed 27 times and only ran 22 times?
I hope it is to keep future defensive coordinators guessing. I just don’t know. I do believe that Alabama never established a rhythm early and the Special Teams spectacular plays kept them off the field. The offense though at this point is still an enigma to me. Was it play calling? Was it the patchwork line? Was it the defense Tulane was playing? Was it an attempt to establish a different look to confuse future opponents that didn’t go as planned?
I just don’t know. I’d like to see Alabama put up some big numbers in the next two weeks against less than stellar defenses that haven’t been licking their chops for us all summer but we’ll just have to see.