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All that we’ve been hearing in the build up to the game tomorrow, at least as far as Arkansas is concerned, is Mallett. Mallett, Mallett, Mallett…

If Mallett had been hurt last week, would anyone give Arkansas any chance tomorrow?

If Mallett gets hurt in the first series tomorrow, ala Colt McCoy, would Arkansas be able to even stay on the field?

Sure, the Razorback receivers are good – then again, any group of receivers that gets thrown to that much is going to be good – and Alabama’s secondary is young, but the Razorback ball carriers don’t seem to be a huge threat; Arkansas will attempt to establish to run, only to give Mallett more opportunities. There again, beyond Ryan Mallett, what is the real threat on this team. It isn’t power running and it isn’t stifling defense.

Is there anyone who says that outside of the arm of Ryan Mallett, the Razorbacks have any chance?

That being the case, the game plan becomes pretty simple. Don’t let Ryan Mallett beat you.

Do you think Nick Saban hasn’t thought about that all week?

Great football teams don’t rely on just one player. Therefore Arkansas really shouldn’t be a great football team. Or should they?

1.What is the most important thing we learned about the Alabama team in the wake of the Duke game?

There are three lessons that were learned this week. None of them are new and all are equally important. There seems to be further evidence that this version of the Alabama Crimson Tide shows up to play every week regardless of who the opponent is. That’s the first lesson and it is a carryover from Week 1 when the opponent was hapless San Jose State. The second lesson is that this offense only seems to get more impressive. A new week, bigger offensive production. The final lesson is that the defense still has a lot of room for improvement. It might turn out that it is a good and capable defense, but at this point it is certainly not a dominant one.

2.What is the biggest area of concern in respect to Alabama’s performance in the upcoming game against Arkansas?

Without having read anybody else’s weekly answers, it is safe to say that this is a big ditto: the defense. It would seem that tackling, coverage and run stopping all need to improve for the upcoming contest with Arkansas. There will be legion Alabama fans grimaced in agonizing butt tensioning when Mallet and company take the field.

3. Which is more dangerous: Ryan Mallett and the Razorback offense or the Arkansas defense?

Giving credit where it is due, the Hogs stop unit appears much improved (when you’re at the bottom there aren’t many other places to go than up) but without question it is their ability to score points. Georgia is not playing good football and seeing the same quality of offense from Alabama as the Bulldogs this week would be really surprising. The Hog D is in for a much stronger test. The defenses for both teams will be tested as they have not been this weekend.

4. How important is the Arkansas game for Alabama’s prospects both in the SEC West and the conference as a whole?

The most apparent answer is huge, but if you take a deeper look it’s not that simple. Arkansas, like Alabama, is basically untested at this point. After Saturday there will still be eight conference games to play (seven for the Hogs) and that is a lot of opportunity for both good and bad to happen. A win by wither team will take some pressure off but that’s going to be the same for every divisional foe each team faces. You always hear about “controlling your own destiny” and wins make that easier, but all hope is not lost with a loss by either team.

This weeks questions come to us from the good folks (that’s just good Southern manners for Ed Orgeron, Bat Shit,  Crazy people) at Tower of Bammer. You can find a round up of the roundtable this and every week right here.

1. While the actual players and coaches deserve some of the credit for last season’s success, it was our collective superstitions and dark rituals that brought home the championship. What was your superstitious contribution?

I am such a total believer in Saban and the philosophy that he preaches that for possibly the first time ever I didn’t keep a ritual. Except for drinking. I drank before every game and during most of them. God forbid what would happen to the team if I didn’t drink.

2. Put on your Finebaum hat, dip your arrows in vile poison, and tell us which SEC coach is gonna be the first to get canned/and or bolt for greener pastures… like golf courses.

This is going to be the easy answer, but Spurrier’s days are numbered. Unless he has a huge year I believe he’ll hang it up. Richt is on a short leash. Miles’ leash is even shorter; I believe this is it for him in Baton Rouge. Nutt’s got a couple more in Oxford before they run him out. Mullin is due for a good year in my opinion and he’ll bolt for greener pastures (figuratively not literally; if there is anything they do good in Starkville it’s green pastures).

3. We would love for this to go on forever, but let’s face it, we have to lose a game at some point, right? What team on next years schedule (pronounced shed-jewel) should cause the most concern?

This is one of those time-stamp questions. Pre-season the pundits will say Penn State and Florida. I’m a little worried about an improved Arkansas in Fayetteville. That game comes at the end of two straight weeks on the road and the week before the super-hyped game against Florida. If Alabama beats Penn State, and they should, then the entire Sports/Industrial Complex will be looking forward to October 2. Arkansas, on the other hand, will be looking forward to Alabama, who embarrassed them like no one did, last year. On paper Alabama controls the clock by pounding the ball against an inferior defense and utilizes a superior defense against a gimmick (read: non-traditional offense) and runs the quarterback all over the field and gets ready for the more important showdown. No problem right? That was the exact plan for Auburn last year. That’s what has me worried The contests with Tennessee, LSU and Auburn always scare me. UT will generally be awful, but Dooley will probably win a game he shouldn’t and they always get up for Alabama. LSU probably scares me the least and Auburn should be improved but it’s in Tuscaloosa and the winner might just punch its ticket to Atlanta. I’m going to keep my eye on State too but it’s just too early to say on that one.

4. Joe Paterno has already screeched “You can’t count on freshmen. Do you want to go down to Tuscaloosa with freshmen!?” but Penn State fans are buzzing about how true frosh Paul Jones looked in their spring game. Is JoePa playing it smart, clinging to an outdated case of freshmanastartaphobia, or just planning on starting a sacrificial lamb QB so Marcel Dareus doesn’t eat his good ones?

All you have to do is go back to the National Championship game to see what a Saban defense can do to an inexperienced QB so he might opt for experience, no matter how little it is. But to be honest with you, I’m not sure that Paterno is even aware that the war is over – and I’m refereeing to WWI here – so you can’t be too sure of what he says anyway.

5. Everyone I know has a crazy story about dealing with an out of control swamp-thing rival from Red Stick, whats the craziest thing you’ve ever seen an LSU fan do? (Just to make things interesting, lets disqualify Shaquille O’Neal’s performance as a genie in Shazam)

I’ve had some truly great experiences in Baton Rouge and here with LSU fans. It wasn’t anything where I felt threatened or was just in shock. Probably the worst thing was in 2000 when the kid jumped out of the student section in Tiger Stadium, ran the length of the field and mooned the Alabama fans in the visitor section. It was right at the start of the 4th quarter and then Saban directed his Tigahs to a comeback and their first victory over the Tide in Death Valley since 1969. Or possibly when I sat in the student section there in 2004 and the girls were asking me, “what the fuck are you doing here?” That was pretty intense.

There is nothing better than spending a day on the Quad and topping it off with a game in Bryant-Denny Stadium, especially  if it is a big game against one of Alabama’s chief rivals. To me it is one of the greatest things in life. I unabashedly love Alabama Football and attending games is, to me, the best way to experience all the good things it has to offer. The travel that away games offer and the opportunities to experience how football is “done” in other places always make road trips worthwhile.

It safe to say that I love going to football games. However, every once in a while the stars and planets align and the networks get out of their own way long enough to provide one on the biggest joys that I know: Spending All Day In Front Of A Television Watching College Football. And I mean all day.

Tomorrow just happens to be one of those days and I’m more than a little excited about it. At the worst there will be two hours in the morning, before Big and Rich offer up the awful refrains about them coming to our Sitay,  that do not contain some football, but other than that there will be high quality football that involves massive rooting interest the rest of the day. Tomorrow it will be good to be alive (unless Alabama starts the day by throwing one away).

Let’s take a quick look:

9:00 am: College Gameday (brought to you by the home depot) (ESPN) -coming atcha live from the proud home of the booger eater nation. The over/under for signs about Alabama, despite the fact that they aren’t playing in the highlighted game, opens at 6. Just what will our orange and blue clad brethren do to make us cringe at the thought of us sharing a state with them- don’t worry they won’t disappoint.

11:30 am: Alabama at Arkansas (Jefferson Pilot) – despite the fact that we got Daved, after three straight weeks of night games, I’m pretty pumped about having this game kickoff first. First, it’s an excuse to drink before noon (as if I needed one). And B, I don’t have to worry about how the team is going to perform while watching other teams that our team will eventually play. This is so much more preferable than these other games being time killers while anticipating the main event. Plus, the Tide should roll. Let’s face it, no one outside of Fayettenam is picking the Hogs. Not that Alabama can sleepwalk through this one but they should win the game.

2:30: Florida at Tennessee (CBS) – for the first time this yea  I get to listen to Uncle Verne bungle his way through names that my pre-schooler has no problem whatsoever with. Plus, the shine is off the Clawfense and the bloodlust in me that longs to see the injured Volunteers gutted and left on the field to die a slow death that ends in the firing of the most loathsome figure in the SEC allows me to do something I rarely do; cheer for the Gators. The Vawls aren’t going to be undefeated when they meet Alabama in about five weeks, so I’d rather they be defeated over and over and over again (wouldn’t you love to see a soulless Vol squad Croomed prior to playing Alabama?) Go Gators!

There is a good possibility that I’ll have to switch from beer at around this point. It’s still little warm for bourbon but I might just get crazy.

6:45 LSU at Auburn (ESPN) – after a few minutes to reload (or pee) the prime-time showdown of the Tigers, one Bayou and one Eagles, takes place on the Plains. Which reminds me, what kind of idiot named the area around Auburn the Plains? It was obviously someone who had never really seen plains. I mean, I’ve been across West Texas and Oklahoma. Those are plains – Auburn just has pastures. Let’s try this, The Lovliest Village in the Pastures. There, that’s more like it. I digress, I’ve already sent an email to my lone Cajun friend and instructed him to have his team beat the hell out of Auburn. I realize that if Alabama ends the streak this year – and I believe that they will – that it would be sweeter if Auburn were undefeated and it kept them from Atlanta, but let’s be honest here. Auburn is not going to go undefeated. Not with the offense playing the way they are playing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting on the bandwagon here and saying that they are horrible because I don’t believe they are. It’s just that snitching-ass Tony Franklin’s offense has not taken hold. They have played consistently poorly over the first three games. And yes, State’s defense is good, but they aren’t LSU good. I’m not sold on LSU’s offense yet either but they have more pieces of the puzzle than Auburn does and their defense is equally or practically as good.

I believe that LSU will win, but an Auburn victory would not be surprising either. I just know that I’ll be pulling for LSU or at least against Auburn. I just can’t see it any other way. Alabama has to play both of them eventually and they both can’t win and in my den no one will see me bowing to the TV during Chinese Bandits, so I’m pulling for the Tigers that have no confusion that they are Tigers here.

7:00: Georgia at Arizona State (ABC) – this could be one of those games that surprises you but you have to think that the Dawgs will represent the conference well and bring home a W. At either rate I’ll watch this one on commercial breaks and that will be about all I’ll see of it – with the slug fest that AU-LSU will no doubt be this game will probably end prior to the one in Auburn despite the 15 minute head-start.

Sometime around 10:00 I’ll stagger to bed, or I might just pass out in my recliner. Either way, two things are certain about Saturday night. We will know much more about the conference and I will have spent one hell of a day doing something I love.

If you are an Alabama fan and, like me, you’re getting prepared to start tailgating then I think it’s probably a good idea to get out your Bloody Mary and Mimosa recipes. Breakfast casseroles and pigs-in-a-blanket and breakfast burritos are probably going to be in high demand too. Why you ask, do we need to get these morning delicacies ready for consumption? I’ve already done some game predictions for the year and now I’m going to go ahead and do some game-time predictions as well.

I believe that several of Alabama’s games this year, especially home games, are going to be on Raycom/Lincoln Fianancial/Jefferson Pilot. In fact, I’m betting the Daves already have some rooms booked- maybe even a condo or townhouse rented for the fall.

Clay Travis at Deadspin has released what he says is a leaked schedule for CBS – the primary broadcaster of SEC football games – this fall. I’ve looked over it and, while one could debate the legitimacy of the document in question – I’m sure CBS has a plan but would be foolish to lock in a season’s worth of games before the season – but the list that is presented makes sense based on a look at the schedule right now.

The good news is that there are a lot of great games this season in the SEC and there are quite a few weekends that I could be locked in a room with a working television, some snacks, plenty of beer, and a place to relieve myself I would be utterly content from 9:00 in the morning until I passed out sometime that night. The bad news is that most of those games take place in stadiums other than Bryant-Denny.

I believe that the consensus is that Alabama’s home schedule is weak this season, but the full effect of that weak schedule is going to play out, I predict, with quite a few 11:30 kick-offs. Here, I’ll break it down for you (keep in mind that on all but one week of the season CBS has first pick and they have two picks one Saturday, ESPN picks second and then Raycom gets whats left):

  • Clemson – In Atlanta; night game on television (ABC)
  • Tulane – Bryant-Denny Stadium; 6:07 kickoff on PPV
  • Western Kentucky – BDS; 6:07 kickoff on PPV
  • Arkansas – Fayetteville; probable JP game (I’m sorry, it may be Raycom now, but it will always be JP in my heart) LSU plays Auburn and Florida plays Tennessee that same day. One of those certainly will be CBS and the other the ESPN night game. Georgia plays Arizona State, which is an ABC game. Vandy and Ole Miss, which in theory sounds like a JP game, might get the morning slot but ESPN would have to take the Tide and Hogs as the second night game. I’m, not sure they want to air three SEC games that night on their family of networks plus UA and UA may both be 2-1 with losses to Clemson and the probable pantsing at Texas the week before.
  • Georgia – Athens; this almost certainly an ESPN night game. Auburn and Tennessee should be the CBS game with Ole Miss versus Florida and State at LSU battling it out for JP honors.
  • Kentucky – BDS; Not the best day in the SEC this season. Florida is at Arkansas (meh – but supposedly on the radar for CBS along with the UK/UA game. Other scorchers this day include, USC (cocks) and Ole Miss and Vandy at Auburn. Honestly that’s four JP worthy games. If Ole Miss and South Carolina are playing well (should/could both be 4-1) the there may be ESPN interest but Kentucky should be, in all honesty, undefeated when they visit T-town and hopefully that will win out for the ESPN game but I don’t see them both being on during prime-time. I’ll say 30% chance of Dave honors.
  • Ole Miss – BDS; According to the Deadspin list CBS has LSU and South Carolina, which makes sense but if Ole Miss is a one loss team at that point it will be because they beat South Carolina -giving them their second loss – 14 days before. Both Alabama and the Rebels come off bye weeks so CBS could opt for that game. Georgia plays Vandy which is typical JP fodder except for the recent closeness of those games, Arkansas is at Kentucky (two teams who should be losing interest at that point) and State is at Tennessee. There again, this is a day full of, what seems right now, mediocre match ups. While I’d say that Alabama wasn’t a lock to play the JP game that day I’d say they are 50-50 to though. The thing that helps is the possible resurgence of a Nutt-inspired Rebel squad and the competitiveness of these games the last few seasons. This could just as easily end up on ESPN as it does JP.
  • Tennessee – Knoxville; Unless some miracle happens and the Vols and Tide are undefeated then CBS will broadcast Georgia and LSU – which should be a phenomenal game. I just don’t see a replay of last years step-child treatment to the Third Saturday in October. Kentucky/Florida and Ole Miss/Arkansas just don’t offer the same prime-time meat that Alabama at Tennessee does.
  • Arkansas State – BDS; While nothing official is out yet, since this is Homecoming it is all but guaranteed to be a 2:00 PPV game.
  • LSU – Baton Rouge; This is almost certainly the CBS game. Deadspin says that Georgia and Kentucky are possibilities but unless Kentucky is undefeated or only has one loss, I just don’t see that game bumping Saban’s return to Tigah Stadium. All eyes will be on Baton Rouge that day but I’m sure given their druthers, the LSU fans would prefer the night game.
  • Mississippi State – BDS; The “leaked” CBS schedule has the option of South Carolina and Florida or Georgia and Auburn and one of those is certain to be called by Uncle Verne while the other goes to ESPN. Vandy and Kentucky reeks of JP, but if ESPN decides to only broadcast one SEC game that day then Croom’s return to Tuscaloosa might get the Dave treatment. The only thing that helps this situation is State’s streak of two-in-a-row, both on JP, could create enough of a story to warrant prime-time. State’s three-five losses coupled with Alabama’s three-four to that point might negate that interest. This has a 70% chance of being JP bound.
  • Auburn – BDS; On the newly formed SEC Rivalry Day, Florida and South Carolina both play their in-state, ACC rivals in their stadiums, excluding them from consideration. LSU and Arkansas as well as State and Ole Miss will have played the day before as has become their tradition. That leaves Georgia Tech and Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee, and Alabama and Auburn to battle it out for the CBS slot. The Jackets and the Bulldogs are definitely the bigger market game but the match up just doesn’t carry the umph that the Tide and Tigers do. I don’t think that any of the games that day get Daved, but to be honest with you, I’d rather be the ESPN game. There is just something about a night game. This is the first year that the game has been this late in the year and in Tuscaloosa. The change to standard time coupled with the waning hours of daylight guarantee that (if kicked off at 2:30) this game will finish at night, which is good enough. It will also probably be good chili and bourbon weather. Remember, Tennessee and Kentucky were the CBS game last season and the Iron Bowl was on ESPN.

That makes four strong candidates for JP honors this year and every home conference game with the exception of Auburn. Either way, Alabama is probably going to be on CBS only once or twice tops. I think that’s a good thing. I prefer night games over day games any time, but if I’m at a game at 11:30 then I’m out by 3:00 and have the rest of the day to absorb what else is going on around the country. The other silver lining of that cloud is that I only have to listen to the Daves one time at the most. No matter who you pull for, I’m sure you can agree that that is a good thing.

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