Wednesday, September 10, 2008

midseason roundabout, Week 3

Should've gotten in on this last week, but unfortunately I'm a slacker.
(Note: Actually, I'm not a slacker -- I got a job and stuff that takes up most of my time. But if it makes you all feel better to call me slacker, then go ahead. You remind me of your father when he blogged here -- he was a slacker, too.)

This week's host is BSR, arguably one of the better Tide blogs on the planet. As always, I'm participating in this as someone who doesn't consider himself a "'Bama blogger." I hung up my crimson-colored glasses when I finished college and started working in the real world. Still, it's a fun thing to do, and I'm hoping I can bring a little extra to the (round)table. Without further ado ...

1. What are your feelings on Alabama’s current position in the polls? Are we overrated? Underrated? Just right?
At the risk of being boring, top 15 seems about right for 'Bama at the moment. As my Auburn friends have gone out of their way to remind all of us relentlessly, Clemson was overrated, overhyped (and by the way, the Aubs knew it all along, in case you don't remember ... or so they say, anyway). In any case, this team does have a chance to be pretty good, but -- as Saban has reminded us -- so did last year's team (and if we want to get picky, so did the team in 2006). For now, 'Bama's ranked just about where they belong.

2. What aspect of the game did Alabama control that shocked you the most? What aspect of the game was Alabama dominated in that shocked you the most?

In a weird way, even though the game was 13-3 for most of the night, it never felt like they were in danger of actually losing. I started thinking about the 1992 team -- everyone remembers the beating of Miami, but most of them forgot that Alabama needed a second-half rally to beat Tulane (in New Orleans that year, weirdly enough), and a David Palmer punt return to solidify a win over La. Tech at Legion Field. As I said the other day, winning ugly is still winning, and the good news is that the Tide played poorly but still pulled it out.

(Note: I skipped question #3 because I didn't watch enough of the game to answer it adequately.)

4. John Parker Wilson has been called a number of things - most of them not so nice. What do you see in your crystal ball for #14 for the balance of the season?
Honestly, JP didn't play poorly in the Tulane game. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was against Clemson, but it's not as though he was an apocalypse against Tulane the way he was against Monroe last season, or against State, or the majority of the FSU game. Had he been, this game might have been lost.
Alabama fans have a tendency to be wayyy too hard on their starting QBs, and Wilson is no exception. While I can't forecast his senior season, I can say the following things:
* He's playing behind the best offensive line in his three years (assuming Andre Smith and Marlon Davis come back healthy by Arkansas week).
* He's playing with an offensive coordinator who actually has the trust of his head coach (supposedly, Saban never really trusted Major fully last season, one of the reasons he left treadmarks leaving town).
* Because of the two aforementioned things, he'll be asked to win games less than he has been in his previous two seasons.

5. Considering that we rushed for 6.5 yards per carry against Tulane, and only averaged 1.6 yards on pass plays, why do you suppose that we passed 27 times and only ran 22 times?
Ah, you've hit upon my personal cause! Honestly, if I have to watch too many more games in which a team with a clear advantage up front pitch the football all around the stadium for four quarters, I may take up protesting in the street or something.
Tennessee -- a team which I openly loathe -- is easily the worst case of this. On Labor Day night, the Vols simply refused to run the football against the Bruins, choosing instead to put the game repeatedly in the hands of Jonathan Crompton. And Crompton did OK, but the game would never have been in doubt if UT had simply just run the ball.
My theory, taken from Gregg Easterbrook at TMQ: passing the football is considered more sophisticated (and it’s more fun to watch, supposedly), so coordinators fall in love with it because it makes them look smarter (no one ever called Tom Osborne an offensive genius, despite the fact that his Cornhuskers flattened every team they played by just playing smashmouth football).
Here’s hoping we don’t say the same thing about Jim McElwain at the end of this season.


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