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I’ve read about all that I can read and I’ve thought about all I can think. I’m going to try and make it to the golf course a little after lunch and smack a little white ball around and drink a few frosty, cold beverages because that doesn’t take any real amount of concentration, which at this point I don’t possess any of. We’re about thirty-three hours away. By five o’clock tomorrow I’ll be more geeked out than a fifteen-year-old boy who’s been guaranteed he’ll get to see a real live breast.

I love this. I live for this. I’ll have to get drunk just to be able to sleep tonight.

I’ll leave you for the weekend with a couple of thoughts:

  • You sometimes forget how sloppy first-games are. Most of the teams I watched looked sloppy last night, at least for a half. Alabama and Clemson are probably going to be that way tomorrow night and it will be maddening. If the teams are as close as some say they are, whoever is less sloppy just might come away with the victory.
  • I’ve heard a lot of talk about how people think the Ross’ Brother is going to be better this year. Here is where I am with that: It’s very possible that McElwain has helped him by the way he runs the offense. He certainly is experienced and I know that goes a long way. I also know that he has been prone to some poor decisions, but he is certainly more worthy of praise than blame. So I leave it at this, I hope that Wilson has improved and I hope that he has a break out year. That’s all it is though at this point, hope.
  • I really want to see the development of Alabama’s defense, as well as receivers and O-line. Alabama has the potential to be a much better team this season all the way around. There are signs that they could be. All the reasons given by pundits for their success this season on on those areas. I believe they are flying under the radar this year, at least I hope they are. There is a small reason to believe that Alabama could be a surprise team this year. Look back at Stoops in his second season in Oklahoma and Saban in his second season at LSU. I know the circumstances are not the same for both of those teams compared to this one, but change from year one to year two can be dramatic. Keep in mind all the losses last season were by a score or less. Once again, my hope is that Alabama experiences a lot of improvement. I hope.
  • I don’t want to get on a theme of bashing Auburn here, because I agree that they could be a very good team this year. I’ve stated I’m not sold on snitching-ass Tony Franklin and his system and I’m not going to start on that again but I’ve heard several times this week how this two quarterback deal on the Plains is different. The party line this week is that running all the reps would just be too exhausting on one quarterback. I’m calling bullshit right here and now. Let me get this straight, one quarterback isn’t physically fit enough to do it but the offensive line is? Maybe all the cage-fighting Ziemba is doing on the side makes him extra fit for a standard SEC lineman but I don’t think so.  Are they going to platoon the whole line to keep the fatigue down? What about the “much improved” receivers, I understand they rotate more than other offensive players but don’t they run more too? If everybody from the quarterback to the opposing defense to the marching bad playing so many song for all the first downs are going to be so tired, then why isn’t the largest, and slowest players on the team? The bottom line is that one quarterback is not good enough to take charge or that the coaches are too worried about messing with team chemistry to sit one and play the other. This cannot end well unless it is the first time that it ever, in the history of football,  does and I will apologize for my short-sightedness if that is the case.
  • Clemson has more to lose than Alabama, but a win would be much bigger for Alabama. I don’t believe either team should or will be satisfied with a loss but nobody but Alabama fans hoping for a return to glory are predicting big things for Alabama this season. This could be a springboard for a spectacular season. For Clemson it is just the first test for them to finally meet expectations. Either way both team will be focused and intense and it should be some great, great football.
  • I’ll state one last time that I do not forecast and Alabama victory tomorrow. That doesn’t for one isecond mean that I will yell at my television less or get any less upset and mope around the house if they do lose. I’m just trying to be logical and for every reason I can think to get excited and mentally workout the victory I can come up with a counter argument. Clemson is good, on paper, hyped or not. And since that’s all we’ve got to go on, I’m still predicting Clemson. I have no idea on the points.

That’s it. I hope you all enjoy your holiday weekend.

Roll Tide!

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Well, here we sit a mere four days from the first game, trying to work, and not having much success. I’ve read until my eyes hurt and it hasn’t even remotely quenched my thirst for football. There is but one thing that will do that and that my friends is actual live football (although Erin Andrews screen caps help).

This is the time of year that everyone tries to wrap the story lines and general predictions into neat little bundles. I’m not sure why, maybe to get the wanna-be fans that jumped on the bandwagon this past week up to speed. In my opinion, if you’re just tuning in now you aren’t a real fan anyway. You should have been with us back in February when my phone was blowing up with text messages like I was a fourteen-year-old girl every time Nick Saban landed another highly-touted recruit. Since he did this with consistency similar to the way Kenny Loggins recorded soundtrack music in the 1980’s, my phone was blowing up a lot.

You should have been here during Spring Practice as we clamored for the tiniest shred of news, no hope, that our team will be better this year and that yes, the dreaded streak will end.

You should have been here when the summer started when we were scrounging message boards to hear the latest rumors about who was in camp and who was going to be ineligible. When we were counting with calendars and hands and toes to determine exactly how many days there were left until the addiction would be fed. When we were planning tailgates and trying news recipes that tasted great and could be prepared successfully while impaired from a day of drinking or worse, while hungover from a night of drinking. When we were committing the schedule to memory. When we were planning road trips and booking flights and calling in favors for tickets and rooms from long-lost friends and relatives.

Just as long as you know that we know that you have a life other than football and that we resent that about you we’ll let you play along. Sure, be a fan when it’s convenient, but know that when you jump up and diss John Parker before it’s quite time to, we will know what a fair-weather, gained all your knowledge-listening-to-Finebaum-on-the-way-into-town, douchebag you really are.

Without further ado, here are my predictions, both bold and not-so-bold, for Alabama, the SEC, and college football in general this season.

Alabama’s Season – Even though I want to jump on the happy-feel-good vibes coming from the football complex, I’m sticking with my assessment earlier in the summer. 9-3 with losses to Clemson, Georgia, and LSU. I’ll get to Clemson in a minute but I really don’t think we can beat both the dawgs and the tigahs on the road.

The Streak with Auburn – will end this year. Don’t worry about reasoning or logic or the lucky underwear I’ll be wearing into Bryant-Denny. Six is enough. What I am more interested in though is how this empire Auburn has built will crumble when the only truly remarkable event of the greatest period of Auburn history ends. As bad as some Alabama fans have taken this streak, when it turns, I believe that the Aubs will take it much, much worse. I think we could handle the streak running to seven, or even eight (God forbid) better than they will take it when it ends. It seems sometimes like it is all they have. I want to predict that the winner of the Iron Bowl will represent the West in Atlanta, but that is just day-dreaming and is counter to my overall prediction. But don’t get me wrong, I’ll take it.

This is Phillip Fulmer’s last season in Knoxville – After opening with conference losses to Florida, Auburn, and Georgia the pitchfork wielding crowd will be at the gates. The second consecutive loss to Alabama will be more than even the annual cakewalk through November can overcome. I believe he’ll take his dignity and the lifetime Krispy Kreme rider in his contract and leave the program. And as I brush a tear (of absolutely satisfying mirthful glee) from my eye, I’ll wish him the best of luck with knowledge that the conference won’t be the same without him.

While starting in the Top Ten both West Virginia and Clemson will not finish there. I could give you my reasons but what the hell for, that’s just what’s going to happen. Write it down. (and notice that I’m still predicting a Clemson victory against the Tide).

The Spread Eagle will not fly. At least not in the vision that Auburn fans think it will. Your offense will still be similar to last seasons and the seasons before. Auburn wins by controlling the clocks and playing good defense. That’s what their talent does and Tuberville would be a fool to try to do differently like. It’s kinda like you in college, you did well with the girl-next-door type. She was cute and fun to be around. Yeah she wasn’t model material but she was acceptable. She was your wheelhouse and every time you forgot that and out kicked your coverage it ended badly and awkwardly for everybody involved. So you went back to the girl you saw studying at the library and left the cast of the Hills to the product sporting douchebag with not much substance but really sweet trust funds. Tommy Tuberville has never had product in his hair in his life. He ain’t taking anything over a 7 and-a-half out of the bar. He may try but after the lame attempts at being cool countered by the silly looks and under-her-breath comments to her friends he’ll go back to the wheel house. That’s why he’s the best damn coach in Auburn history (WEH!). By the Tennessee game, the Tigers will be pounding the ball up the middle and throwing on third and long.

I’m not sure what snitching-ass Tony Franklin will do our what the new company line will be to all the Auburn faithful, but you ain’t going to light it up and score gobs of points. Nor do you have to to win.

Sylvester Croom will not repeat last year’s success, but he won’t miss it by much. State will beat at leat two teams that they aren’t supposed to. Something tells me LSU is one of them but that just seems almost too crazy to write down.

Houston Nutt will not. Earlier I thought they would be better, but Jevan Snead beside, they still just aren’t going to have it. The losses to injury on the d-line are just way too much for them early in the season and a team like that needs something to build from – like say, a win – and they aren’t going to get it early in the year.

No team will run the table in the SEC and at least one of the teams in the championship game will have two losses. I don’t think I’m being Nostradomas here.

Baby Jesus and his end-zone dancing group of petty criminals will not win the National Championship. Or even the conference. [ eds. note:Jimmy Johns and Jeremy Elder (who was from Georgia by the way) think the Bulldogs string of misdemeanors (and assaults to be fair) are chicken shit.] As Rick Bragg said in All Over but the Shoutin, “Georgia is obnoxious anyway, with Herschel Walker they were unbearable”. Moreno is everything to the silver-britches about Hershel except that he isn’t Herschel. Would I love for him to be on my team, yes, but that’s beside the point. Richt and the Bulldogs are good and I’ve gone through this ad nauseum but the last seven games last year were special but they do not entitle you to walk into Miami a week after New Year’s day. In fact the only game they’ll play in Florida the whole year will be in Jacksonville and I just don’t see them beating Florida this year. It should be merciful though because Spurrier is already in Richt’s head and when they lose at Columbia the dreams should be back down to reality.

Alabama will lose to Clemson on Saturday. I believe that the game will be fantastic and I hope that I am wrong but Clemson has just seen this situation too much in comparison to Alabama. They played in the same location with just as hyped a crowd as will be there and Alabama, at least the freshman who are depended on for so much, has not. Alabama is just too young at too many positions. I hope I’m wrong and I’ll definitely be cheering for them to win but I’m setting emotion aside. You can look at every match-up on the field and Clemson wins it. Clemson’s O-line versus Alabama’s D-line might be the only exception but you’d logically have to say that given the unknown nature of each, the nod goes to Clemson who has more in support. If Alabama wins the game it will be because of an as-of-yet undetermined superiority in this battle.

Now for the promised links:

Gump for Heisman did a helluva job of predictions himself. These are hilarious. (HT:Gerry Dorsey)

Bama Sports Report takes a look at yesterday’s practice. These guys are quickly becoming one of my favorites and daily reads.

Senator Blutarsky links Barnhart’s AJ-C piece on the ESPN-SEC deal and add some insightful commentary.

Orson brings a hired gun to help channel your inner-defensive coordinator and you don’t even have to put on polyester shorts with a belt first.

After a little over a week’s worth of hiatus I am back and functioning in a semi-lucid state. A lot has happened since we spoke last. How are you? How are the kids? Enjoying your Summer? Been hot, huh? Football? Oh yeah, football has started. Well that’s just spectacular.

If the net is good for one thing it’s good for practice updates. Ian has been providing most of my daily fix. I’m glad and not-at-all surprised to hear that the freshman look good and are working hard.

So you heard about the Franchione thing on ESPN Radio, huh? Well, here’s my take on it: Who gives a big flying crap? Yeah, we thought we were going to be shed of a least one stereotypical-douchebag with an agenda against Alabama when Curry got a new title, but we didn’t know they would replace Hitler with Stalin (OK, that’s a little harsh, but you get my point.)

I think the thing that has everyone upset is the thought of listening the the light nasily tones of Dennis “take the money and run” Fran-phony for three plus hours. Well don’t worry my friends. There is a good chance that WVUA broadcast of All Things Acoustic this week will have more listeners than the ESPN radio broadcast of the Alabama-Clemson game. Look at it like this; most fans of Alabama that aren’t at or watching the game will be listening to it on the Eli-Snake David Crane version of the radio broadcast. I’d be willing to bet that most listeners to the ESPN game are doing so because they are out-of-market and can’t watch the game on television or hear the CTSN. Well, this is the ABC prime-time national game. If you can’t watch it on TV then you probably can’t get ESPN radio either so, no worries mate.

Gameday coming to Atlanta, or more importantly Alabama’s recent streak with Gameday at the location (3-7 overall, 0-5 since 2001, all in Tuscaloosa). I’m pretty sure that Chris, Kirk and Lee were not in Tuscaloosa before ’01 and I definitely remember them being at the ’94 Iron Bowl in Birmingham (which Alabama won) but I really can’t recall the other 4 supposed appearances by Alabama on the show. I guess the good news is that Gameday has been to some of the toughest games in Tuscaloosa over the last 6 years (UCLA, Oklahoma, LSU, and Georgia twice) so this streak is more of a product of strong competition and arguably the worst period in Alabama football history. Maybe the new venue and new year will have a change in the recent history but as I’ve already said, I don’t see Alabama beating Clemson, so that will be one more streak that has to be rectified in the near future.

What I do know is that it will be pandemonium in Centineal Olympic Park. There will certainly be tons of Alabama and Clemson fans on hand but with Georgia opening with Georgia Southern that day, there will be several Bulldog fans as well. Get your Knowshon for Heisman signs ready. Georgia Tech opens with Jacksonville State on Thursday night and thus many Tech students will be around for the cameras (unless Periloux runs wild on the Tenuta-less defense). Plus Atlanta is basically the hub of the SEC (no offense Birmingham) and being a metropolitan area there are bound to be crazies from all sorts of schools there. It should be an interesting sight. And maybe, just maybe, none of the stupid fucking “Rick and Bubba” signs in the crowd. (Eds. Note- there are few things in this world I dislike less than the Rick and Bubba show. Much like the NBA, if they did away with it I would never know unless you told me). And then there’s Kirk. And of course Erin. Ooh Erin.

Lastly, as much embarrassment and shame was heaped on the University by the Jimmy Johns saga, it was really good to read this today about Ali Sharrief. It doesn’t make for good trash talk though and thus won’t be discussed much at all. It is however certainly worth a read and a “thatta boy” to Ali. Well done young ma, well done.

Mark Schlabach, who typically does a pretty good job of analysis for ESPN, has his preseason Top 25 up with post spring-practice revisions. The thing that I found interesting about his rankings is that, if he is right, Alabama will face five teams in the top fifteen this year. That’s right five, and to make matters worse, four of the five will be faced outside of the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

I am learning quickly that it is much easier to tear someone else’s picks up than it is to make your own – that is unless you excuse some of them with your own personal bias. I am also aware that Schlabach’s picks will differ from what ends up becoming the actual preseason polls, but there are a couple of interesting things about his look into the crystal ball that are decent debate topics.

Schlabach has Georgia at number two, right behind his new number one, Ohio State, and it’s hard to argue with that pick. Alabama plays them in Athens and as I’ve already stated, I just don’t see the young Tide winning that game.

He puts Clemson in the seventh position and I concur, in as much as I believe they will be a consensus top ten. No one doubts the Tiger’s talent level but the interesting thing will be how their inexperienced offensive line comes together. I believe Clemson gets the benefit of the doubt that they belong in the top ten until they prove otherwise. Alabama plays them in the Georgia Dome, in a game that will draw a lot of national attention. I still think Clemson pulls this out because our defense will be inexperienced in this game and the first game is a great time to throw a few wrinkles in.

The first surprise of Schlabach’s rankings is found with Auburn in the tenth position. Even a homer like me finds it easy to imagine that Little Brother is a top twenty-five team, but tenth? They have two brand new coordinators and I just don’t think a team gets that kind of benefit coming off a less than stellar season. With the imminent decline of LSU this year, there is little doubt that Auburn has a great chance to win the West and play for an SEC Championship, but they have to prove that first. All admitted partiality aside, Auburn’s personnel are going to have to prove they have adapted to the new systems and leaders before I would rank them number ten to start the year. Seventeen to twenty-two, no problem, but not number ten. Alabama gets a good opportunity to end the streak at six when the Plainsmen visit T-Town the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

LSU finds themselves at number twelve in Mark’s preseason rankings. With a new defensive coordinator and the loss of their only relatively experienced, but fairly capable quarterback, it’s hard to give them the nod at twelve. They are the defending national champion and do have some talent coming back so I suppose that’s a decent place to start them, but we’ll see how the year unfolds. I’ve got a feeling it will be the purple and gold clad fans that are bitching about their own coach, rather than Alabama’s, mid-way through the year this season. But once again, until they prove otherwise, they get approval at number twelve. Thinking about the game in Baton Rouge on the second Saturday in November gets me excited even now, months ahead of time.

Alabama’s final opponent in Schlabach’s top twenty-five is probably the most troubling to me, especially in light of some of the comments I got about my preseason picks; he has the Volunteers at number fifteen. That’s third in the SEC East but still giving them a lot more credit than slipping in to Atlanta as co-champion of the East last year merits. First of all they have a new offensive coordinator. The same arguments that I had for Auburn come into play here but what makes me skeptical of the Vols this season isn’t the new coordinator, it’s the old one. Jon Chavis is leading a defense that has been depleted by the graduation and early entry into the NFL. The vaunted Vol defense was ninth or worse in the conference in every major defensive category last season: tenth in scoring defense (27.3 pts/game), 11th in pass defense (238.6 yrds/game), 9th in rush defense (164.6 yrds/game), and 11th in total defense (403.3 yrds/game). The secondary and tackle positions are the only positions with relative depth and the author of their spring outlook speaks of the need for the offense to carry the load as the defense rebuilds. First of all that puts a lot of pressure on a relatively inexperienced quarterback (I’m sure the staff will work to diminish that) and there is also the adjustment to the new system, which is pretty different to the old one and second of all, it is certainly not the type of football that Tennessee fans have come to expect. If the wins don’t come quick to sate the hungry masses, things will get pretty dicey in Knoxville. Either way, when Alabama comes to call on the Third Fourth Saturday in October, there will be a lot on the line.

I can’t wait for football season.

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