Tuesday, August 28, 2007

2007 Season Is Here!

Sorry for the long delay in posting, but I haven't had anything of interest to say for the past 9 months. There is a new season upon us, and things in Tideland have been shaken up tremendously since my last rant. I hope to give my opinions on the current status of the program, as well as some minor predictions of things to come.
First off, let me say "Roll Tide and Welcome!" to the Saban family, as well as the rest of the new coaching staff. We fans owe you a great debt of gratitude for coming to our program and restoring hope in a time that hope had been almost completely lost.
As a rabid fan, I have tried to gather as much information as I could scrape together for the upcoming season, to try to get some insight into what the future holds. I have read blogs, papers and magazines in an attempt to "know" more than the next guy about what is going on. Whether or not I have been successful is yet to be seen, but I will offer my opinions for those who are interested. My impressions of the new coaching staff are hard to put into words. I have been overly impressed with their work ethic, their recruiting prowess, their team management and their class. Coach Saban exudes a level of confidence not seen in Tuscaloosa in many years, and that confidence is the root of championship football. If he can instill that confidence in his team now and in the future, there will be no limit to their successes.
Enough of the sentimental stuff, lets talk football! Starting with the offense, I believe we might be on the verge of seeing one of Alabama's greatest offenses of all time. That sounds like a bold statement, but bear in mind, Alabama has never been known for offense.
Our offensive line will be the key to the success of the offense, but my opinion is that they are greatly improved (and better coached) and will be one of the strong points of our team this year. We have a strong veteran presence with leadership from AC and Andre, and a renewed sense of purpose.
The next extremely strong group is the wide receivers. Both DJ Hall and Keith Brown will likely surpass Ozzie Newsome on Alabama's all-time yardage list this season. That in itself says a lot about our offense that we have two receivers, on the same team at the same time, about to surpass our all-time yardage leader. Also, we have had some serious competition in fall camp from some underclassmen who are ready to rise to the top. Look for big plays all season from Mike McCoy and Nikita Stover.
Running back is a position that, coming into last season, I felt really good about as a team. As the season began, I began to wonder (as did many of you) "what the hell is going on?" My opinion is that last years failures could be chalked up to multiple sources, including poor run blocking, poor play calling, and tentative running by KD. All of that is about to change. As I mentioned earlier, I expect much better performance from our o-line and play-calling adjustments will be made during the game this year, unlike last. The biggest change from last year may come in the form of a redshirt freshman RB named Terry Grant. Maybe I'm just a "Bamoptimist", but I think he is the real deal. Tough runner with speed to burn, defenses had better hope to contain him.
That leaves us with JPW. Not much has to be said about him that hasn't already been said on the field. This guy is a winner, he's calm, he's talented and he's smart. With the combination of receiver options and running backs he'll have to go to, he should get close to last season's totals (which were record breaking).
Defensively, there are a lot more question marks. D-line is thin and inexperienced, linebacker is thin, half of the backfield is new. Couple all of that with the fact that we are changing our defensive sets and going with more of a 3-4 style defense, and you've got a yourself a huge question mark.
With all of that being considered, I am confident in Coach Steele and Coach Saban and their teachings. We will use our personnel better, and blitz and stunt smarter and more effectively than we have for the past few years. We haven't put pressure on QB's from the outside in recent memory, and if I'm not totally wrong, we will do that much better this year. Only time will tell.
As for predictions, I predict we will win 9 games this year and hopefully give Tuberville a thumb to stick somewhere. Maybe I'm overly optimistic, especially since the first game hasn't been played yet, but I think with the level of talent in Tuscaloosa right now, and the coaching staff, and the confidence they bring, and the fan support, we will be pleasantly surprised by the Tide. That's my 2 cents. Roll Tide!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Enough is enough! Stop making excuses!!!

Every week, it is the same old thing out of our coaches: "We did some things really well" or "We're really close". Well, I've been told since childhood that close only counts in horseshoes and grenades. I might buy the "close" comment after week 1 or 2, but after week 8? HELL NO! We are not close at all. If not for our defense intercepting 3 first half passes, we would have been scoreless at halftime, instead of having a 3 point lead. Oh, and let's talk about that 3 point lead. Your team is on the road with a first year starting QB in front of 107,000 fans and you kick a field goal from 4th and goal on the 1? If ever there was a time to go for the kill, that was it! I realize there was another half to be played, but that field goal was a victory for Tennessee, not us. They were fired up and clapping about OUR field goal! We would not have given them any more momentum and joy had they stopped us on 4th down. Besides, did you really think 3 points would hold up AT Tennessee? Come on Coach! Be realistic.
I, for one, am sick of "playing the percentages" and the NFL mentality. This is NOT the NFL, where "you win some, you lose some" is acceptable. This is Alabama football! We are supposed to win them all!
I want you to think about something honestly. When has Alabama had a better QB, better tandem of receivers, and better running backs and full backs than right now? NEVER! We have never had more weapons than right now, yet we have an anemic offense. Hey folks, that's coaching! I don't know whose fault it is, whether its Rader or Shula. Whoever is calling the plays has got to recognize the problem and ask for help from the other. Don't let your pride get in the way of winning football games.
Oh, and speaking of bad coaching decisions and making excuses, why wasn't Jimmy Johns on the field more Saturday?

"Jimmy was not full speed [against Tennessee]," Rader said. "He was limping around [sprained ankle].

"We played him about the right amount as far as what he could do. We're not going to jeopardize his whole season to get him in there if he can't hold up."

Excuse me? If he wasn't full speed, then why was he our leading rusher on just 3 carries? Maybe we should think about not jeopardizing Darby's future in the NFL by sitting his ass down, too! I'm sure we have some no-name scout team running back that is expendable, let's play him!

Our special teams were also terrible on Saturday. Our punting and punt coverage was atrocious. Our kickoff coverage was terrible. Our gunners don't understand the concept of "breaking down". They just fly right past the returner and barely get a finger on him. It's like they are trying to get that big hit that makes the crowd go "Ooh!" But special teams coach Dave Ungerer said both of those units are "very, very close" to success. I guess I'm supposed to get a warm, fuzzy feeling because Coach U said we were close. Damn it, that's not enough!

One last thing. If you haven't read Cecil Hurt's article from this past weekend, please do so. It is on point and very true. At one place in the article, he talks about Alabama's inability to win on the road.

Alabama didn’t score enough points to win on the road against a quality opponent in Knoxville on Saturday. That happens to every team from time to time – but in the past four years, it has happened to Alabama every time. That’s Every Single Time. The Crimson Tide hasn’t gone away from home and beaten a team worth beating since Dennis Franchione’s 2002 team went to Baton Rouge and blew LSU out of Tiger Stadium.

Whole Article

Overall, Alabama has become an average football team.

Roll Tide Roll!