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I’ve got to admit that I’ve been caught up in the aftermath of the UT-Alabama game last Saturday. Kiffin keeps popping off at the mouth and like kids following the piper the UT faithful are right behind him.

The coach of the Volunteers  seems to be the definition of immature. He doesn’t like it when he doesn’t get his way and he’s going to make sure that everybody knows it. Ghostofneyland said it best when he stated, “Kiffin felt he needed to stand up and say something…” I believe that is the majority of Kiffin’s problem; he just can’t keep his mouth shut. He always feels he needs to say something, even when he would be better served by remaining silent. Maybe he is smarter than he looks and this is all a part of a master plan. If he keeps the hopes of Vols inflated with close wins and promises of what will be, they’ll be patient with him until he does win. I think it may even be working. From my brief observations the Big Orange Nation is too busy crying foul and lauding what will be to reflect on the actual record.

The down side to all his talk will be that his timer will run out much quicker. If the promised wins don’t come soon – I personally believe that he can’t back track to Georgia next season and needs to beat either Alabama or Florida or natives will start getting restless.

Right after the game I spoke with a great Tennessee fan. She didn’t tell me that UT could have or should have won, she didn’t say that the penalties (or lack of) or the headset malfunctions or even their lack of comparative talent cost them the game. She just said it was a great game.  She was absolutely right. She was the gracious fan that Kiffin must feel he can’t afford to be.

I’ve been through two truly awful streaks in my time pulling for Alabama. The seven years to Tennessee and the six to Auburn. The worst part of those was the feeling that it might get worse before it got better. The 365 days until our teams would meet again would be long but the possibility that a talent or coaching gap would make it longer than that was the really scary part. UT fans probably feel right now that in fifty-one weeks this wrong can be righted. Hope is better than the absence of it. Despite the fact we Alabama fans would prefer them dejected the Volunteers lost a game but gained some faith. In that at least, Kiffin did a good job.

This certainly isn’t a defense of Kiffin; I believe he’s a whiny douchebag whose eventual downfall is as certain as the enjoyment I’ll derive from its occurance. But Lane did help to give my favorite rivalry in the world a shot of Jaegarmister this weekend. Sitting on the good side of a three-year streak I think that is a pretty good thing.  I thank him for that.

This past weekend was what college football is all about to  me. I was thinking going in that Alabama was a much better tean than Tennessee and that I would be dissapointed with anything less than humiliation of the hated Vawls from them. I was wrong.

The elation I experienced in the moments following the blocked kick as time expired was as euphoric as every win I’ve ever experienced as a fan in this storied series. It’s games like this that make the rivalry so great.

Now that I am somewhat rested the focus of my brain (and liver) has shifted to something other than clearing alcohol from my system. Some thoughts:

Alabama

  • This was the first game all year that left me feeling there were things to worry about. After watching the replay yesterday I feel better about that. Granted, the offense has to improve, but despite the fact that this one came down to the wire, Alabama did the things it needed to do to win. They aren’t perfect but they are a complete team.
  • They win. That’s the major difference in Alabama and Tennessee right now. It wasn’t to long ago that Alabama did not know how to win.
  • I was convinced that McElroy stunk it up Saturday after the game. Part of that was carryover from the South Carolina game and part of that was the idiot behind me in the stands screaming about open receivers. After the replay I feel better about him. He didn’t do things to help us lose the game, which is an improvement.  Obviously he needs to improve but I’m confident that he can. The thing that crossed my mind was maybe the speed of SEC defenses have sped the game up for him and he’s rushing his decision making and therefore his execution. Hopefully, the game will slow down for him and he’ll be fine. I’m confident that he can lead this team but we need to see improvement every week.
  • This has been stated ad naseum in the last thirty-six hours but the bye week comes at a great time. Rest and focus should do this team wonders.

Tennessee

  • The series of events that had to take place for Tennessee to have a chance to win this game was just amazing:
  1. The most sure handed rusher in the conference fumbles a ball.
  2. Overcomes a sack for a big loss of yardage to keep a drive alive.
  3. Score a touchdown against a team that hadn’t given up one in almost twelve quarters.
  4. Recover an onside kick.
  5. Move the ball enough to set up a field goal to win the game without a time out.

Simply amazing.

  • You could argue that UT did enough the rest of the game to be in position to win and I don’t know that I’d disagree. Still, in the stadium until around the two minute mark, I never felt like UT had a chance to win. As successful as the Vol offense had been and as good as Crompton was, there was a point on every promising drive that the worn out Alabama defense emphatically shut the door.  The final three minutes contained all the drama.
  • Deserve has nothing to do with this game. This UT team still has a ways to go to be competitive every week. Sometime mediocre teams play great games against better competition but I’ve never felt this was a true indicator of a team’s progress (as Lane would have you believe). The measure in this sport is not total yards, first downs, or time of possession. It’s wins. This UT team is 3-4. That’s not very good.
  • Keeping on the same theme, this situation reminds me of Alabama and LSU in ’07. The Tide took LSU to the wire and lost after leading most of the game. They felt good about themselves and then threw all that promise away in consecutive weeks (against Mississippi State, La-Monroe, and Auburn no less). This is not a prediction, but the Vols need to focus on South Carolina this week, and not what they did or almost did against Alabama. Another Vol loss this week (and more the rest of the way) will not surprise me at all.
  • Lane Kiffin needs to shut the hell up. Obviously, I’m not a fan, but this is ridiculous. He’s already calling for the victory next year and and whining about headsets and penalties like it was a conspiracy that kept his team from winning. I loathe people that place blame on anyone but themselves for thier situation. Lane seem like the poster boy for that. Your team did a lot and I mean a lot to gain respect from at least this Alabama fan this week. Kiffin stuck a pin in that balloon real quickly with his big mouth. Just be quiet and let the team make the statement for what you’re doing.
  • When is someone going to start the Kiffin promise board. He’s making promises more quickly than a politician – which he reminds me of. He’s saying all theses things that his fans want to hear but he isn’t really following up on them. I’ll start the check list: “… not getting recruits from Memphis (OK, that was Thompson, but he’s writing checks on Kiffin’s account) -not happening. “Sing Rocky Top all night after beating the Gators” – didn’t happen. After he’s finished promising all the losses from this season that are supposed to be wins next year UT should run the table by his estimation.
  • Tennessee played a great game. They were well prepared and played very physical football for sixty minutes. Unlike the last two years, they never gave up in this one. My credit is worthless, but they were a more impressive product than I have seen in a while from the boys in orange. The single biggest superlative for this team is its tenacity.

Personal

  • I always look forward to and enjoy this game every year. There was. however,  a perfect storm of events that made this one extra special:
  1. Weather that proves God loves college football
  2. My friends Chris and Steve flying in from Albuquerque and Denver respectively keeping a string of twelve consecutive years where we all attend a game together going.
  3. Chris and Steve bringing their fraternity brothers Justin and Seth with them for the second time. These guys are southwest guys with no ties to Alabama other than friendship and have become big fans – they love the experience of southern football.
  4. Getting to meet and hang out with three folks I like and respect from the internet all in the same day: Holly, Doug, and later Clay Travis. Good folks all.
  5. The game itself. Obviously.
  6. Finishing the night doing shots with a former professional baseball player who was in town for the game. (and who was an all-around good guy).

Like the team, I need a bye week. I’m going to focus on work, flag football, and hopefully a little rock climbing before the team hits the field again for a huge matchup with the Tigahs.

Nine months after my last post, almost exactly two years after my first post, and the week of one of the absolute best things about college and Alabama football seems like a pretty good time to try out the internets again. So here I am.

In way of a brief explanation, as I shared with you about this time last year, my last official gig ended and I went out on my own. Things are going relatively well on that front but running a business is incredibly time consuming. Also, last winter I became a dad again (for the third time) and lack of sleep coupled with increased duties with the other two take up a lot more time. Finally, Alabama had a pretty good year last year and my level of contentment with “the process” allowed me to focus on other outlets.  I do this because I enjoy it and it fills a creative need but lately when the desire to write struck there seemed to be something else that “needed” to be done. I realize my tiny voice is one that is easily lost in the din but I do appreciate all the inquiries into my whereabouts. Thanks to you all.

So, I understand there is a game this weekend. What’s going on with that?

  • Tennessee wants to wear orange. While Saban tends to say things like jersey color don’t matter – and they don’t – I’m not at all surprised that the request was denied. Of course the Vols are going to say we’re doing the fans a disservice, but the fact remains that a.) Kiffin raided the coaching staff, b.) said coach has been lying to recruits, and c.) this is still Tennessee. So screw UT. Why extend to them any courtesy at all other than letting them have a locker room? They wouldn’t, and haven’t done the same for Alabama. I understand from off-the-record comments that Saban is not a fan of the Volunteers and I believe that the way Alabama has been prepared to play, and has executed against UT in his tenure lends that some credence so it makes sense that UT was not granted the concession. I say no quarter asked or given in this rivalry. They’ll probably end up in those gaudy orange pants anyway. Orange sucks, people! (Update: As usual, the guys at Bama Sports Report put it into perspective)
  • McElroy Struggling. G-Mac has, without a doubt, had two bad outings (against competent defenses) after some pretty good outings (against less than stellar defenses). I’m not ready to bench him though. I’m not even ready to verbally abuse him by comparing him to other, less-than-good quarterbacks, like another Alabama blog writer who tends to overuse the word “nevertheless” and speaks of the team in the first-person.  I don’t think McElroy was quite as good as the early season success showed, nor do I think he is as bad as his last outings would indicate. Despite Monty Kiffiin’s (bow in awe, people) vaunted defense I think we’ll see a little more regression to the mean this week. Meaning we won’t see as much forcing to Julio, a little more Colin Peek and Marquis Maze, and a steadier reliance on play-action. McElroy will be alright. Aight!
  • Tennessee Overall. I’ll preafce by saying this: anything can happen. Anything. UT could come in here and play the game of the decade and beat Alabama. But it isn’t very likely. This is not a good football team and there is no way around that. Tony Barnhart called this out as a trap game in the summer. But part of his premise was that UT would be winless in the conference. As you all know they aren’t. Beating a dreadful Georgia team hurt them more, in the context of this weekend’s contest, than anything. There wasn’t much chance that Alabama would overlook this UT team anyway but the big win in Knoxville ten days ago only served to make sure everyone was paying attention. As Mike Strange points out, UT’s first half  body of work doesn’t look near as good as it did. SEC Offenive Player of the Week aside, Crompton is not a good QB and the Alabama defense should make that very evident. Hardersty is a great back, but Alabama’s run defense  is no slouch either. The defense’s ability to nuetralize Crompton and make the game one-dimensional should effectively negate Hardesty (and super-frosh Bryce Brown as well). Things get a little more dicey with Alabama’s offense versus Tennessee’s defense. While statistically, they are a good defense, Auburn – yes the same Auburn that was just run over roughshod by Arkansas and Kentucky – lit them up like a Christmas tree. As I said, anything can happen, but if Alabama holds onto the ball and McElroy takes just one step back towards averages, we should be singing “Rammer Jammer” by mid fourth quarter.

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