Alabama – Kentucky: Rout Revisited

We all knew Kentucky was a terrible football team.  During the Nick Saban era at Alabama, we’ve come to expect domination of these terrible teams.  And that’s exactly what happened Saturday night in Lexington.  Domination.

And it could have been worse.

The Tide started the game in sluggish mode.  A punt on the first series was followed by two red zone fumbles plus a smattering of dropped passes.

Otherwise, ‘Bama would have scored 60 plus on this out-manned Wildcat team. When the Tide got rolling, it didn’t stop until amassing 668 total yards, 48 points, two runners with over 100 yards rushing and a quarterback who threw for a career-high 369 yards.  Add in the drops and he likely goes over 400.

Oh, and the defense didn’t play too badly either.  The ‘Cats were held to 170 yards and couldn’t muster a point against the first-team Tide defense.  So, all in all, not a bad night.

Before the game, I mentioned five things I wanted to see from what was expected to be an easy win.  Did they happen?  Let’s see.

1) I’d like to see a clear-cut dominating effort by the Tide defense.  Check.  This Kentucky team could have played all night without scoring on the Tide’s first team D.

2) I’d like to see some quarterback sacks.  Check.  The Tide mustered a season-high four sacks, with two coming from true freshman A’Shawn Robinson.  He’s nasty, folks.

3) I’d like to see the offensive line continue to gel.  Check.  Fill-in center Chad Lindsey continues to play without missing a beat and true freshman Grant Hill continues to work his way into the playing rotation.

4) I’d like to see the run game dominate games.  Check.  When you run for 299 yards on the road, that’s considered domination.

5) I’d like to see Amari Cooper show up.  Another check.  There was a sighting of Cooper in Lexington.  The sophomore caught three passes for 64 yards and showed that he may be close to being back to his 2012 form.

The Kentucky Game: What I Want to See

The Tide heads to Kentucky this weekend as a nearly four touchdown favorite.  That’s impressive, but not unexpected considering the No. 1 ranked team in the country is taking on the dregs – at least record-wise – of the SEC.

For Alabama, again, at least on paper, this should be an easy win.  On the football field, where it actually counts, it should be a win as well.  So when you are the top ranked team in the country and when things haven’t been all rosy the first five games of the season, you do want to see improvement in a few areas.  So what do I want to see?  Here goes…

1) I’d like to see a clear-cut dominating effort by the Tide defense.  Statistically, even when considering the Texas A&M game, the ‘Bama defense continues to improve.  Players have been shuffle in the secondary and along the defensive line and the unit’s play continues to improve.  I’d like to see that continue against Kentucky.  Will they throw a shut out?  I doubt it.  Those things are hard to come by in the SEC.  Will they cross the 50 yard line?  Probably so.  But I’m not talking about a super human effort.  I just want to see the defense continue to gel and continue to get nasty.

2) I’d like to see some quarterback sacks.  Statistically, we don’t play in the back field as much as other teams in the league.  Granted, teams aren’t interested in their quarterbacks holding onto the ball against the Tide, but so far, the unit has only tallied six sacks in five games.  Touching the quarterback changes things and we haven’t see Alabama’s defense do that much this year.

3) I’d like to see the offensive line continue to gel.  This will be the third game for new center Chad Lindsey to get lots of playing time.  Nick Saban has also indicated true freshmen Grant Hill is almost ready for a prime time role.  These things aren’t bad, but do mean the offensive line isn’t quite as settled as it really needs to be at this point in the season.  But this point in the season also isn’t as bad as it could be with Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee on the schedule before a November date with LSU.  So now is the time to get the offensive line locked down and playing well.  I’d like to see that start against Kentucky.

4) I’d like to see the run game dominate games.  Sure that’s hard to do when teams stack the box, but I’d still like to see the offensive line and running backs play so well that we could run when we want to.

5) I’d like to see Amari Cooper show up.  Coach Nick Saban indicates Cooper is on his way back from a foot injury.  I’d like to see Cooper makes some progress and return to his All-American type level of 2012.

The Sad State of Kentucky Football

If you want to check the pulse of Kentucky football, or at least the mindset of the Wildcats fans, check this out:

Kentucky returned more than 2,000 tickets from its general allotment for the Governor’s Cup game at Louisville on Sept. 2.

A release sent out by Louisville on Tuesday morning said those tickets would go on sale at 10 a.m. Wednesday to Cardinals season-ticket holders only.

“The single-game tickets are from the 2,060 returned last week by Kentucky from their fan allotment of 5,500 for the game,” the release said.

UK-Louisville isn’t exactly the Iron Bowl, but c’mon.  Cat fans couldn’t buy 5,500 hundred tickets to a game against their in-state rival?  You’d think that many UK fans would buy the tickets and show up just to show off their basketball national championship gear.

SEC 2011: Review of the Preview

Way back in the pre-season, I predicted the order of finish for both divisions in the SEC, along with who I thought would meet next Saturday in Atlanta.  Now that the regular season is finished, let’s take a look at how I did.

SEC East

1) Georgia Actual 10-2 (7-1), Predicted  10-2 ( 7-1)

  • Preview: “Mark Richt will remain on the hot seat after the Bulldogs lose to Boise and South Carolina, but 10 straight wins later, his future in Athens is extended.  Georgia probably has the league’s best quarterback, at least for this year, and brings in hotshot freshman Isaiah Crowell, who will try to be this year’s version of Marcus Lattimore or Michael Dyer.”
  • Review: This is probably my best call of the season, although I thought South Carolina would wind up in Atlanta.  Crowell had a decent year, but never came close to Lattimore status.  Murray exceeded expectations and has a good shot to be the SEC’s offensive player of the year.

2) South Carolina Actual 10-2 (6-2), Predicted 11-1 (7-1)

  • Preview: “Steve Spurrier calls this his best team yet in Columbia.  If OBC can keep his troops clear of the buffet lines and cocktail parties he may be right.  Alshon Jeffery, Marcus Lattimore, Stephon Gilmore and yes, even Stephen Garcia make it hard to pick against the Gamecocks for a repeat.  They’ll stumble against Mississippi State, but earn another berth in the SEC Championship Game.”
  • Review: The Gamecocks successfully transitioned from Garcia to Connor Shaw and finally hit their stride when Shaw came up to speed.  Although the Gamecocks lost to Arkansas, it was a lackluster loss to Auburn that kept them from a repeat trip to Atlanta.

Continue reading

Week 5 Picks

Alabama 21, Florida 13 – If The Tide can get steady play from it’s quarterback and keep Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps in check, they can escape Gainsville with a win.

Arkansas 35, Texas A&M 31 – The Hogs welcome aTm to the party with a loss. One concern: Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson received a slight concussion against Troy and was beaten up against Bama.

South Carolina 41, Auburn 31 – The October nightmare begins for the Tigers. The Gamecocks haven’t played well thus far, but can’t help but get untracked against Auburn.

LSU 56, Kentucky 6 – I don’t expect a hangover for LSU after the trip to West Virginia. Kentucky is not a good team, so the Tigers can name their score.

Ole Miss 24, Fresno State 23 – This is the toughest game of the week to pick. Which scheduling guru signed the Black Bears up for a game against Fresno? In Fresno? I guess that’s the way this season is going for Ole Miss. I have no logical reason for picking the Rebels other than they happen to play in the SEC.

Georgia 31, Mississippi State 17 – A huge game for both sets of Bulldogs. UGA is the better team and should win with ease.

Tennessee 52, Buffalo 17 – Tyler Bray should have another big game against a lesser opponent.

Vanderbilt – The Commodores have an off week to prepare for Bama.

Week 1 Review

Alabama 48, Kent State 7 [Prediction: Alabama 45, Kent State 3] – If the Tide hadn’t turned the ball over five times, this game would have been much uglier.  The Golden Flashes only scoring drive came from three yards out after a near pick six by Phillip Sims.

Arkansas 51, Missouri State 7 [Prediction: Arkansas 58, Missouri State 10] – Bobby Petrino’s Hogs did what they were expected to do against the Bears.

Auburn 42, Utah State 38 [Prediction: Auburn 35, Utah State 17] – I told you: “USU isn’t as bad as you might think.”

BYU 14 Ole Miss 13 [Prediction: BYU 28, Ole Miss 24] – I predicted the win, but not like this.  The Black Bears gave this one away late.

Mississippi State 59, Memphis 14 [Prediction: Mississippi State 38, Memphis 21] – The Bulldogs looked impressive, but Memphis has a way of making every team feel good about themselves.

Florida 41, Florida Atlantic 3 [Prediction: Florida 31, Florida Atlantic 21] – A good start to the Will Muschamp era as the Gators handle the Owls with ease.

Kentucky 14, Western Kentucky 3 [Prediction: Kentucky 37, Western Kentucky 6] – Joker Phillips starts his head coaching career at UK by winning a real stinkfest of a game.

South Carolina 56, East Carolina 37 [Prediction: South Carolina 35, East Carolina 14] – The Pirates raced to a 17-0 lead, but got steamrolled by Garcia and the Gamecocks.

Tennessee 42, Montana 16 [Prediction: Tennessee 42, Montana 17] – Wow, I nearly pegged this one exactly.

Vanderbilt 45, Elon 14 [Prediction: Vanderbilt 34, Elon 0] – Enjoy this one, Vandy.  There won’t be many more of these this year.

LSU 40, Oregon 27 [Prediction: Oregon 31, LSU 27] – Oregon turns the ball over four times and gets smashed by the impressive Tigers.

Boise State 35, Georgia 21 [Prediction: Boise State 21, Georgia 16] – Bulldog fans waited all summer for this?  Georgia looked extremely unimpressive against the No. 5 Broncos.  This could be a long season for the Dawgs.

Week 1 Predictions

Alabama 45, Kent State 3 – The quarterback situation will probably be as unclear after this game as before.

Arkansas 58, Missouri State 10 – Missouri who? The Hogs will score as many as they want in one.

Auburn 35, Utah State 17 – USU isn’t as bad as you might think.

BYU 28, Ole Miss 24 – A tough out of conference opener for the Black Bears, er Rebels.

Mississippi State 38, Memphis 21 – The only thing good about this game is that it’s on Thursday night and kicks off the SEC season.

Florida 31, Florida Atlantic 21 – FAU will prove to be a tough opener and the final score will be closer than the Gators would like. Muschamp opens his era at Florida with a win.

Kentucky 37, Western Kentucky 6 – WKU provides the fodder for the Joker Phillip’s era at UK to begin with a grin.

South Carolina 35, East Carolina 14 – This could be a tough opener for the Gamecocks. Is USC up for a repeat? This is opener could give a clue as to how the Gamecock’s season will go.

Tennessee 42, Montana 17 – Tyler Bray and Co. will shine against another cupcake opponent.

Vanderbilt 34, Elon 0 – Vandy may not have an athletics department, but somebody their knows how to schedule. The Commodores will blank the Phoenix in this private school battle.

Oregon 31, LSU 27 – Both teams have been in the spotlight this off-season due to suspensions and NCAA questions. LSU not only loses Jordan Jefferson and Russell Shepherd to suspensions, but will also be without offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe, who is battling an illness. The is basically a rematch of the BCS Championship game for the Ducks as they get another crack at an elite SEC school. I think the Ducks hold the motivational edge here and will win a close one.

Boise State 21, Georgia 16 – I’ll be pulling for the Dawgs in this one, but I don’t think they’ll get it done. The Broncos return 14 starters, including QB Kellen Moore, who may be the best player in the country. Georgia welcomes their Dream Team freshman class and top recruit Isaiah Crowell will tote the rock early and often for the Dawgs. UGA’s 3-4 defense will show improvement in it’s second year, but unfortunately their play calling will remain inconsistent.