Week 3 Review

Week three brought a 10-1 slate to bring the overall record to 28-5…

1) Florida 36, Kentucky 30 [Prediction: Florida 41, Kentucky 10]

  • Pre-game: “Is the Florida offense really better?  We’ll start to find out against the Wildcats.”
  • Post-game:  Close one for the Gators.

2) South Carolina 38, Georgia 31 [Prediction: Georgia 27, South Carolina 21]

  • Pre-game: “The Dawgs were the darling of the college football world after they pounded Clemson.  The love fest will continue after beating the Gamecocks.”
  • Post-game: Great game, unless you’re a Dawg fan.

3) Missouri 38, UCF 10 [Prediction: Missouri 31, UCF 28]

  • Pre-game: “This is a tough out-of-conference game for the Tigers.  They’ll struggle against George O’Leary’s team, but will find a way to win.”
  • Post-game:

4) Oklahoma 34, Tennessee 10 [Prediction: Oklahoma 42, Tennessee 23]

  • Pre-game: “Big Game Bob wants another piece of the SEC and he’ll take a big bite of the Big Orange.”
  • Post-game:  B.G.B. continues his SEC run.

5) Vanderbilt 34, Massachusetts 31 [Prediction: Vanderbilt 7, Massachusetts 6]

  • Pre-game: “I’m guessing tickets are still available for this one.”
  • Post-game:  Wow.  Vandy scored 34 points.

6) Alabama 52, Southern Miss 12 [Prediction: Alabama 45, Southern Miss 10]

  • Pre-game: “Expect a lot more offense from the Tide as the quarterback duel continues.”
  • Post-game: Meh.

7) Arkansas 49, Texas Tech 28 [Prediction: Arkansas 38, Texas Tech 35]

  • Pre-game: “I’m stepping out here and calling the Hogs to get by the Red Raiders.”
  • Post-game: Pretty good step out as the Hogs grind up Tech.

8) LSU 31, Louisiana-Monroe 0 [Prediction: LSU 44, Louisiana-Monroe 13]

  • Pre-game: “Another easy win before the Tigers step into conference play next week.”
  • Post-game:The Tigers add a shut out on their way to conference play.

9) Mississippi State 35, South Alabama 3 [Prediction: Mississippi State 38, South Alabama 20]

  • Pre-game: “I can’t believe the Dogs are playing in Mobile.”
  • Post-game: Yawn.

10) Ole Miss 56, Louisiana-Lafayette 15 [Prediction: Ole Miss 55, Louisiana-Lafayette 7]

  • Pre-game: “Name the score time for the Rebel Black Bears.”
  • Post-game: See the above comment.

11) Texas A&M 38, Rice 10 [Prediction: Texas A&M 66, Rice 3]

  • Pre-game: “This will not be pretty.”
  • Post-game: Riced played ball control, but couldn’t score.

Game Day Thoughts: Southern Miss

If college football had a preseason, Alabama would be playing their last game of it today against Southern Miss.

Yes, West Virginia was a big-boy game, but it was winnable from the get-go.  Florida Atlantic was pretty much a worthless game to play (other than checking the box that a game was played) and Southern Miss would worry me…if this was 2006.

But it’s not, thankfully.

Today, Alabama squares off against a team that was blasted 49-0 by Mississippi State in the opener and then eased past Alcorn State 26-20.  This isn’t a very good football team.  Today’s results should look very similar to last week’s FAU game, give or take a score or two.

My general thoughts are these:

1) I’ve never liked playing Southern Miss.  From Reggie Collier’s win over coach Bryant to Brett Favre spoiling Gene Stalling’s opening game at Alabama, the Golden Eagles always seems to be hanging around and messing things up.

2) If you are paying for a cupcake, you want a cupcake.  Alabama has always scheduled USM for a win, and for a while, they weren’t always a gimme.  They helped the classic example play out.  They were always sky-high to play Bama, but for us, it was always a ho-hum game.

3) If you are paying a cupcake, you want a cupcake.  This year, we have a cupcake.  The Golden Eagles need a good beating in exchange for their check – and I think that will happen today.

I’m looking for:

1) Obviously, to see how the quarterbacks play.  I think we’ll see Blake Sims, hopefully, help the team to a lead and then give way to Jake Coker, who continues his audition.

2) I’d like to see better play from the cornerbacks.  Yes, I know Eddie Jackson played well last week.  I’d like to see if that was FAU or if he can become the corner you don’t challenge.  I’d like to see the other corner spot play a whole lot better.

3) I’d like to see the defensive line dominate.  A shutout was pitched last week – and even in a rain-shortened game, that’s a big deal.  A big part of that was good line play, even against FAU.  I’d like to see that continue against another inferior opponent.

4) I’d like to see no injuries.  The real season starts next week and it would be nice to be healthy for the Gators.

Enjoy the game and Roll Tide!

2014 Tide: Addition by Subtraction?

Gee, I wonder who he’s talking about:

The Alabama coach doled out, perhaps, his biggest compliment yet during his Thursday radio show, when he said this year’s team had “a lot less selfishness” than teams of the recent past.

“I think it shows in how they play,” Saban said. “That doesn’t always equate to how we execute but the effort, the toughness, the enthusiasm, has really been good. That’s what’s helped this team improve and get better and we need to continue to do that.”

Offensive Line Changes

These blurbs were in one of Michael Casagrande’s practice reports from this week:

There were several players rotating on the offensive line. For a while Dominick Jackson worked with the first group at right tackle, followed by Grant Hill. Regular starter Austin Shepherd rotated in after that.

Leon Brown continued with the first team at right guard.

Of course, it’s hard to really tell what is happening from the limited amount of time reporters are actually able to watch practice, but you get the feeling that Saban and company don’t have the offensive line exactly like they like it.

We saw this in the opening game when Brown started at right guard after being injured throughout much of preseason camp.  You also get the feeling, based on comments made by Saban, that he thinks Jackson can play and wants to give him a chance somewhere.  Jackson, like Brown, was injured through much of camp.

It’s hard for me to believe Shepherd would lose his starting spot at this point, but I don’t think the coaches are happy with the offensive line and know they have to get some things shored up by the time Florida comes to town.

We’ll see, I guess.

More Andre Ware

Chances are, if you watched the Alabama – FAU broadcast on the SEC Network, you weren’t overly thrilled with the announcers.  That’s what happens, I guess, when you play a team like and FAU and it’s the network’s 15th game they are broadcasting.  We need to realize we aren’t getting the A-Team of announcers.

But chances are pretty good that you were miffed for another reason during Saturday’s broadcast:  the comments of Andre Ware related to Blake Sims and Jake Coker.  As AL.com notes:

Serving as commentator for the SEC Network’s broadcast of the Crimson Tide’s 41-0 victory over the Owls, Ware has since caught flak from Alabama fans who claim the former Houston quarterback showed bias in his analysis of the Tide’s current quarterback competition.

Fans have since voiced their opinions on Finebaum’s ESPN Radio show, Twitter and on AL.com, saying Ware clearly favored Blake Sims’ play over Jake Coker’s without giving the junior from Mobile a fair shake.

In the wake of that criticism, Finebaum invited Ware on his Monday afternoon broadcast to let him clear the air and defend himself. Finebaum asked him to address the matter before they could move on to actually talk about football on the field.

Some of Ware’s response was:

Ware reiterated on the show that he just “states the facts” during his broadcasts and that Saturday’s game and the quarterback play “spoke for itself.” He then referenced a specific pair of respective plays in which Sims and Coker threw similar passes and explained why one executed better than the other.

“I don’t know if they listened and basically picked the game apart and took comments they thought were biased,” Ware said. “Throughout the entire game, as Jacob Coker started to play well, I gave glowing remarks for throws that he made and the way that he moved and things that he did throughout the game. We ran highlight packages with him involved, as well as Blake Sims, of both of them playing well.”

I listened to most of his analysis as the game unfolded and I did not think that he did a very good job.  Do I think he was biased toward a black quarterback?  I have no idea.  But I do think his analysis was too pointed, too soon and a bit too over-the-top.  I think he made a few points and sat on those as if they were set in stone.

Coker entered the game and struggled a bit in the beginning, especially when compared to Sims.  As I’ve stated before, I believe Sims was tasked with winning the game, and that dictated his throws, etc., and I believe Coker was given a tryout.  He was asked to do things outside of just winning the game so that he could be evaluated.  And like I said, he struggled a bit.

Ware jumped on the struggles early and decided the quarterback battle was over.  He presumed Sims to be the winner and then proceeded, in my words, to rip Coker.  Everyone saw that he struggled a bit, but I didn’t think he deserved the ripping he got from Ware.  You would have to hear it to know the context, but to me, it was just too excessive for the situation.  Ware needed to realize he was broadcasting Alabama – FAU, not the Super Bowl.

He also went a little overboard, in my opinion, when he started talking about players not playing hard for one quarterback or the other.  Yes, I think this is technically true, but I don’t think at this point in the season or the quarterback competition that that particular commentary was necessary.  Again, Ware seemed to indicate the battle was over and that any decision later on to the contrary would be like poisoning the well.  It was just a little to dramatic for the situation.

In reality, the players around the quarterback have an idea of who the better player is.  They also know they have their own jobs to do and need to worry about that first.  They understand, I believe, that Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin, will put the quarterback on the field that they think has the best chance of leading the team to a win.  Period.

As the game progressed, Coker played better and in the end, I think his statistics showed that.  And in the end coach Saban still feels the need for a quarterback competition.  I too, think Sims is playing better, but I feel comfortable that Saban has a better perspective on what the QB position needs to deliver.  I think Ware could learn a lesson from that perspective.

Remembering 9/11/2001

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 13 years since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

I’m young enough for the events of that day to be the most impactful and poignant of my life.  I’m sure those of us not alive during the Pearl Harbor attack or when President Kennedy was assassinated would say the same.

So many things changed on that day.  Of course, thousands were killed during the attacks and many died racing in to help the hurting and endangered.  All of their families, I’m sure, still grieve in some way and I’m sure the repercussions are still felt.

A couple of years later, our country plunged head first into the War on Terror and our fellow countrymen went to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Many of those didn’t make it home, or if they did, still carry the scars from their service.

Life changed that day.  Let us pause today and give thanks for our many blessings and ask for God’s continued comfort and help for those whose lives have been changed forever.