If you’re a regular to the site I’m sure you know my SEC predictions for each weekend are rather extensive. However, due to the fact Alabama is idle; I will simply give my “game winners” and exclude any personal commentary.
Ole Miss/Auburn…OLE MISS
Georgia Tech/Vanderbilt…GEORGIA TECH
South Carolina/Tennessee…SOUTH CAROLINA
WATCH THE MAGIC PUMPKIN!
MICHAEL MYERS/HALLOWEEN SONG
NOTE: Next week I'll resume the typical "game week" schedule which will feature the Alabama/LSU game preview, Crimson Notes, Tide Talk, and SEC Picks.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
In this interview, "Mount Cody" talks about his personal heroics against Tennessee, special teams practice, and ice cream courtesy of Mark Ingram?
In this interview, 'Bama placekicker Leigh Tiffin talks about the week off, staying focused as a kicker, and practice this week.
In this interview, 'Bama placekicker Leigh Tiffin talks about the week off, staying focused as a kicker, and practice this week.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 9:54 PM
The month of November is arguably the most critical month for any college football team, but it’s especially critical when you have the conference title, and possible national title, riding on your performance.
Alabama is now in the home stretch of the 2009 season, and here are my projections and predictions for the month of November.
LSU @ ALABAMA
Unless the Crimson Tide can develop a solid and efficient red zone offense, Alabama may need another block from Terrence Cody in order to save the game. In a similar fashion to the 2008 contest, this game should come down to the final quarter…or even an extra session. The much needed off week can do nothing but help Alabama in terms of mental and physical preparation. If Alabama wins this game, the biggest hurdle of the regular season will have been cleared. In respect to the final outcome of this contest…surprisingly…I look for an OFFENSIVE TOUCHDOWN to be the difference. The score Alabama 24 LSU 19...seems to be a worthy prediction.
ALABAMA @ MISSISSIPPI STATE
If Tide fans are looking for a “trap game” in the month of November, we need to look no further than a trip to Starkville. The Bulldogs always seem to play above their potential in “big games” and I think this contest will be no exception. Alabama must stay focused and disciplined on the task at hand and look no further…than the next play. If the Crimson Tide can remain focused and the game comes down to sheer talent and ability, ‘Bama should win by 14-17 points.
TENNESSEE-CHATTANOOGA @ ALABAMA
I hate the idea of this game! Injury is the word that keeps crossing my mind when I think about this contest. The sooner we put the game away...the sooner we can get the starters out of the game. In a perfect world, the Crimson Tide builds a four touchdown lead, and Star Jackson is under center. This game is not scary in respect to a loss…the game is scary in respect to injury. No disrespect to Chattanooga, but losing a key player against the Mocs will be an unswallowable pill. Auburn is idle on this particular weekend, and the last thing ‘Bama needs to do is encounter a serious injury before the Iron Bowl! KNOCK ON WOOD! ‘Bama wins by 28 points or more.
ALABAMA @ AUBURN
This game is a classic…and it will always be a classic. In respect to the 2009 contest, one will need to look no further than 2008. It is very realistic that Auburn will be 6-5 when they face the Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Will Auburn perform better than the 36-0 beating from 2008? Yes. Will Auburn win? No. Unless Alabama totally implodes and Auburn finds a solid defense and a sound and competitive offense, the game will be over during the third period of play. Simply put, unless the world caves in…’Bama wins by at least 14 points. This is the Iron Bowl…but sheer emotion can only take you so far.
If the "forecast" is correct, Alabama will once again return to Atlanta with a chance to play for the SEC title, and advance to Pasadena to play for the coveted national title.
The road will not be easy and obviously anything can happen, but the old truism "defense wins championships" still holds water, and many Tide fans hope the cliche will soon become crimson authenticity...No. 13.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 7:23 PM
Monday, October 26, 2009
I’ll take four made ‘Bama field goals and two blocked Tennessee field goals, please?
No, that was not an order at your local Denny’s, but it was the recipe needed for the Alabama Crimson Tide to defeat Tennessee.
In what has quickly become known as “Rocky Block” it seemed very obvious that audio and video would trump any written documentation or trivial statistics concerning the actual game.
So, anyone up for a block party?
"ROCKY BLOCK"-Video Courtesy of CBS:
"ROCKY BLOCK" & RAMMER JAMMER:
In regards to Terrence Cody removing his helmet, SEC spokesman Charles Bloom has been officially quoted with the following remark: "The foul for taking helmet off is a live ball foul treated as a dead-ball foul," Bloom wrote in an e-mail Saturday night. "That is, if it happens on a play where time does not expire then the penalty is enforced on the following play. However since the clock ran out on that play, then there is no next play, so there is no penalty to mark off."
As noted by all accounts the ball was blocked and recovered by Rolando McClain and/or Julio Jones for Alabama with the game clock at zero. Due to the fact the block ended the contest...the game is in fact over.
However, had time still been on the clock (which it wasn't) the 15-yard personal foul for a player removing his helmet is treated as a dead-ball foul, as noted above.
The following consensus is also shared by many: Due to the ball being recovered by Alabama an obvious change of possession had occured, thus, the 15-yard dead ball penalty would have been enforced on the Alabama possession. The penalty mark off would have simply moved the ball to the appropriate spot on the field. Alabama would have taken a knee to end the game and Tennessee would not have the luxury of an additional field goal attempt.
With the win over Tennessee, Alabama remains No. 2 in the BCS standings as well as the USA TODAY COACHES POLL. However, the Tide fell back to No. 2 in the AP POLL as Florida regained the top spot.
NOTE: Due to Alabama being idle on October 31, this week will be dedicated to personal commentary observation rather than actual game preparation, etc. In the coming days I’ll provide my thoughts on the 2009 season, November projections, and maybe throw in some Halloween fun. It will be a “mixed bag” over the next few days so stay close…and ROLL TIDE!
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 12:57 PM
Friday, October 23, 2009
Last Week: 4-2
Can Tennessee compete with Alabama for an entire game? This question has been answered “no” by every team who has faced the Crimson Tide in 2009. I look for Alabama to take control of the game in the final minutes of the first half and control the ball and the clock in the second half. Tennessee has a strong defense but if Alabama can move the ball consistently, this game could get out of hand…FAST! For more details be sure to read my game preview.
Arkansas has been playing solid football of late and the Rebels have been on a downward spiral. In my opinion Ryan Mallett is a better quarterback than Jevan Snead, and that will be the difference in this contest.
South Carolina should win the game, but if they don’t, Steve Spurrier will quickly compose a list of inconsequential reasons why Vanderbilt cheated.
WINNER: SOUTH CAROLINA
Following the win at Auburn, Kentucky gets a much deserved "cream puff" victory at home.
After starting the season 5-0, the Auburn Tigers have slipped to 5-2 and the road is only getting more and more treacherous. The Auburn offense has been very mediocre of late and the defense has been average at best. Starting 5-0 means nothing if you can’t finish, and Auburn will once again learn another tough lesson in Baton Rouge. This game is not about how good LSU is, but how mediocre the Auburn Tigers have become.
Can you hear the cow bells? The atmosphere for this contest should be electric as the Bulldogs will face the No. 1 team in the Coaches Poll, and the BCS standings. Emotion will play a factor in the early portion of the game and State may even make some unexpected plays, but unless the home fans intend on throwing cowbells AT the Florida players…the Gators should dominate.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 5:46 PM
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Alabama defensive back and return specialist Javier Arenas has been working in full pads this week and could potentially play on Saturday against Tennessee. No final decision has been made but Arenas is listed as “day-to-day” after suffering a rib injury in practice which kept him out of action against South Carolina.
If Arenas is unavailable look for Marquis Johnson to once again play a vital role in the Crimson Tide pass defense. Johnson had a superb game against South Carolina and finished the contest with six pass breakups to his credit.
As a unit, the Crimson Tide secondary had a very nice outing against South Carolina. Along with the excellent play of Marquis Johnson, safety Mark Barron had a 77-yard interception return for an Alabama touchdown.
In respect to kickoff and punt return needs, expect Julio Jones, Trent Richardson, and Terry Grant to be on duty if Arenas is once again inactive.
In other injury news, freshman defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick, and nose tackle Josh Chapman have also been in full pads this week despite injury. Kirkpatrick has been dealing with back spasms, and Chapman has an abdominal strain. Both players are listed as “day-to-day” but the prognosis and the ability to practice in full gear looks positive.
Finally, the recognition just keeps coming for Tide linebacker Rolando McClain. Rolando has been named as one of the 20 quarterfinalists for the Lott Trophy. The prized award is named after former NFL great, Ronnie Lott. The award is given to the player who is regarded as the “Top Defensive Impact Player in College Football.”
McClain is an essential piece to the Alabama defensive puzzle, and his effort and performance has certainly been worthy of high recognition and respected awards.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 1:14 PM
One of the biggest rivalries in the Southeastern Conference, as well as the nation, will resume on Saturday afternoon as the Tennessee Volunteers travel to Tuscaloosa to face the AP No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide.
Casual observers will look at this game and quickly determine that Tennessee has no chance whatsoever to defeat Alabama. While this may very well be the case, Tennessee actually looks better on paper…than they look on the field.
The Tennessee Volunteers enter the contest with Alabama with a record of 3-3 on the season. Most people who have witnessed a Tennessee game on television or in person will tell you the Vols are nothing short of horrible. Excluding the “wake up” performance against the Georgia Bulldogs, the Vols have shown little to nothing in terms or productivity and efficiency in 2009. However, the stats prove otherwise.
As I was looking through SEC statistics I discovered the Tennessee offense is ranked fifth in the conference, and the defense is ranked third. The Vols are also ranked third in rush defense. Do those numbers sound like a 3-3 team? If you’re an Alabama coach, player, or fan, this game needs to be based upon the potential of Tennessee…not the record. Is Tennessee a bad team or have they simply played bad at critical times?
One could easily say I’m trying to defend a horrible team, but the idea of never taking a team for granted can only favor Alabama. Focus is the key for every game, but it’s even more important when you’re the heavily favored team.
Tennessee has several players Alabama will need to shut down if the Crimson Tide wish to defeat or dominate the Vols. Quarterback Jonathan Crompton has been called by some…the worst quarterback in the nation. True or not, applying pressure on any quarterback is vital for the defense. Crompton has thrown nine interceptions this season so Alabama will certainly force Crompton to think on his feet, and force him to leave the pocket.
In the backfield the Vols are led by Montario Hardesty and Bryce Brown. While Hardesty leads the team in rushing, many fans around the SEC compare Bryce Brown to Trent Richardson of Alabama. The Crimson Tide are suffocating against the run, and ‘Bama will need to eliminate offensive production from the Tennessee running game, and force Crompton to pass. Third and long situations will play right into the hands of the Alabama defense.
Finally, Tennessee “all world” playmaker Eric Berry will lead the Volunteer defense. Berry will play any defensive position on the field, or so it seems. The young man is certainly a gifted athlete and one of best players in the conference, and the nation. Berry can make tackles in the open field and is very smart. Look for Berry to even take a few snaps on the offensive side of the ball just to add some wrinkles to the maligned Volunteer offense. Berry is a spectacular player, and the Crimson Tide must limit his production…if at all possible.
When I talk about Alabama should I just copy and paste from old material? Something about giving the ball to Ingram sounds strangely familiar? The run will help the Crimson Tide establish the pass, and you know the rest. The Alabama offense is not very complex but it can be very efficient as the game progresses. If ‘Bama quarterback Greg McElroy can re-establish himself in the passing game the Tide offense can be very effective on the ground and in the air. The formula is rather simplistic, but proper execution without penalties will once again be a key to success.
The Crimson Tide offense must also find a way to conquer the “red zone demons” which have plagued ‘Bama for a couple of games. Winning the time of possession battle and turning field goals into touchdowns will be imperative if the Crimson Tide want a complete performance on the offensive side of the ball.
This game is indeed an impassioned and even reviled rivalry that goes beyond the playing field. However, the football teams will play the game, and many times that simple fact can get lost in a frenzied rivalry contest. Fans can scream, yell, and taunt…but they can’t play.
Alabama is a dominate football team, and Tennessee is certainly in a transition period. No “emotional rivalry” aspect can replace the fact that Tennessee is most likely...a mediocre team at best.
Alabama will win this game using the same physical toughness and ground attack the Crimson Tide has used all season. The “fan” aspect of this contest certainly adds an extra element to the game, and the rivalry, but when you compare the teams…Alabama is simply superior to Tennessee.
In 2008 Alabama defeated Tennessee 29-9 in Knoxville. I would expect the margin of victory will be similar, but I also think you can add a touchdown or field goal to the Alabama point total for simply having the home field advantage.
The game is in Tuscaloosa this season, but the outcome will resemble the 2008 contest. The only difference is…Tennessee fans will have a further drive to the house!
Prediction: Alabama 32 Tennessee 9
Tennessee/Alabama will be televised on CBS with kickoff expected around 2:35 p.m. central time.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 11:03 AM
Sunday, October 18, 2009
It was a cold night at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram brought the fire. For the third consecutive game Ingram set a career-high in rushing, and this time…it was an awe inspiring performance. Mark rushed for 246 yards on 24 carries, and the game clinching touchdown as Alabama defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks 20-6, on Saturday night.
Even though Mark Ingram had a "Heisman-esque" performance, but the game wasn't a walk in the park.
Maybe it was the bitter cold, or perhaps it was the Carolina defense, but once again, for whatever the reason...the Alabama offense struggled to produce in the passing game. The Crimson Tide had to depend on hardnosed defense and a solid ground game to get the job done. Once the contest began, the 'Bama defense answered the call.
South Carolina received the ball to start the game and quarterback Stephen Garcia promptly threw an interception to ‘Bama safety Mark Barron who raced 77 yards for a Tide touchdown.
However, after those initial fireworks the game “cooled off” not only in the air…but on the field.
Thanks to a tough South Carolina defense, and a turnover prone Alabama offense, the Gamecocks were able to hang around for the majority of the game. The Crimson Tide also had 10 penalties for a total of 113 yards, which certainly helped the effort of the Gamecocks as Carolina looked to pull the upset.
The Gamecocks had the Alabama passing attack under wraps, thanks to the No. 6 ranked pass defense in the country. The Crimson Tide passing game was buried, and quarterback Greg McElroy was only 10 of 20 for 92 yards…and two interceptions. Alabama was able to survive the initial half thanks to a suffocating defense, and the ability to keep South Carolina out of the endzone.
Alabama took a 13-6 lead into the half, and following a scoreless third quarter by both teams, Alabama gave the ball to Mark Ingram…and the rest was history. The Tide placed Ingram in the “wildcat” formation and simply dared South Carolina to stop the run. It was a test the Gamecocks would fail. Ingram was a one-man showcase on the final Alabama drive, and Mark sealed the win with a 4-yard touchdown run.
With the victory, Alabama improves to 7-0 on the season and remains perfect in conference play. Thanks to his 246 rushing yards against South Carolina, Mark Ingram set the single game record for most rushing yards at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Ingram also holds the third best rushing performance in school history. Mark joins the company of Shaun Alexander who had 291 yards against LSU, and Bobby Humphrey who ran for 284 yards against Mississippi State.
For the first time in 2009 the Alabama Crimson Tide had a “letdown” game by all accounts. However, when a team commits four turnovers, has 10 penalties, and still manages to win 20-6, life is very good…and the pollsters agree.
In the latest edition of the AP Poll the Alabama Crimson Tide are now the No. 1 team in the nation, according to the voters. Alabama jumped Florida to capture the top spot. The Gators, who had a scare courtesy of Arkansas, fell to the No. 2 in the current standings.
However, Tim Tebow and the Gators still hold the top spot in the USA Today Coaches Poll, while ‘Bama jumped the Texas Longhorns to capture the No. 2 position.
The first BCS rankings of the 2009 football season were released Sunday afternoon, and as expected, Florida and Alabama reign supreme. The Gators proudly sit at
No. 1...followed by the Crimson Tide.
For a complete rundown of the AP, USA Today, and BCS rankings, be sure to check the “POLLS” section of the site.
On the injury front, Javier Arenas was out of action against South Carolina due to a rib injury he sustained in practice. The absence of Arenas was quite obvious in defensive pass coverage and special teams. An update concerning the availability of Arenas for the Tennessee game will be provided later this week. Initial reports suggest the injury is not serious.
NOTE: Coming soon...Alabama/Tennessee preview.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 6:45 PM
Friday, October 16, 2009
Last Week: 4-3
As I mentioned in my game preview, this contest has all the makings of an Alabama letdown. However, this team has too much to prove and too much to lose. The Crimson Tide will dominate the second half and leave the Gamecocks kicking up dirt.
Tim Tebow appears to be healthy and the Arkansas defense appears to be better? As we all know…appearances can deceive. I look for a healthy Tim Tebow to roll over the Arkansas defense. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett had a wonderful game against Auburn, but Florida is not Auburn. I look for Mallett to be running for cover just like he did against Alabama. Tebow and the Gators dominate!
Can the Auburn Tigers rebound after a loss? If you’re an Auburn fan, an injured Kentucky team is just what the doctored ordered. With injuries to quarterback Mike Hartline and defensive back Trevard Lindley, it would appear that Auburn will rebound nicely…even if the team plays poorly. Kentucky is banged up and the game is in Auburn. Anything can happen, but I’d be shocked if Auburn “tanked” for the second consecutive week.
Can Georgia win a football game? After a pounding at the hands of Tennessee I predict the Georgia Bulldogs will still be a little too tipsy to perform. In my upset of the week…
Jevan Snead needs a good game, and he also needs to start throwing the football to his own team. UAB will hang with the Rebels, but they’ll be happier with the check they’re receiving for coming to Oxford. Money wins every single time!
WINNER: OLE MISS
MISSISSIPPI STATE/MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
I look for the physicality of the Bulldogs to be too much. The Bulldogs are a joke, but they are better than Middle Tennessee State…at least I think?
WINNER: MISSISSIPPI STATE
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 1:52 PM
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
In this interview Mark talks about the South Carolina defense, his personal role on the team, the mentality of an aggressive running back, lack of red-zone production against Ole Miss...and former Crimson Tide star Glen Coffee.
NOTE: Increase your volume due to natural sound interference.
NOTE: Increase your volume due to natural sound interference.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 4:02 PM
Alabama players continue to receive individual honors as the success of the team persists. Tide center William Vlachos was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his solid effort against Ole Miss.
As mentioned in a previous version of Crimson Notes, ‘Bama inside linebacker Jerrell Harris will be available for the homecoming game against South Carolina. Harris missed the first six games of the season due to a suspension concerning NCAA rules infractions. Harris is expected to compete, and possibly see playing time at the linebacker position vacated by the injured Dont’a Hightower.
Alabama received a verbal commitment from highly touted wide receiver DeAndrew White of Galena Park, Texas. The 6-foot receiver is regarded as a “speed merchant” and known for his play-making ability. Rivals.com considers White to be the 11th best receiver in the nation and a 4-star prospect based upon a 5-star scale. White turned down offers from Oklahoma, LSU, Notre Dame, and Texas (just to name a few) before choosing the University of Alabama.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 3:36 PM
Saturday is homecoming at the University of Alabama, and the No. 2 ranked Crimson Tide will look to remain undefeated as they take on the South Carolina Gamecocks.
After a lackluster offensive performance against the Ole Miss Rebels, the Tide will look to get back on track against a tough and physical South Carolina defense. Quarterback Greg McElroy, who was shaky at times against Ole Miss, will need a solid performance against another quality SEC defense.
The inability of Alabama to score touchdowns inside the red-zone was a factor against Ole Miss, and the Crimson Tide would love nothing more than to trade field goals for touchdowns against the Gamecocks.
On offense, Alabama will once again be led by running back Mark Ingram who has been nothing less than spectacular thus far in 2009. The offensive objective for the Crimson Tide will not change against South Carolina. Alabama will look to wear down the defense by establishing a solid ground attack. The Crimson Tide will need Mark Ingram, and freshman Trent Richardson, to have solid performances against a tough Carolina defense.
In order to be successful against the Gamecocks, Alabama will not only have to deal with a tough Carolina defense, but also a steady quarterback in Stephen Garcia. The South Carolina signal caller has been known for his inconsistency during his career, but Garcia has done a nice job thus far in 2009. Alabama will look to force Garcia to revert to his “old ways” by showcasing various blitz packages and defensive shifts. ‘Bama is a "brick wall" against the run, so Carolina must establish an "air attack" in order to have any chance against the Crimson Tide.
For the second consecutive year Alabama must avoid a letdown. The entire “college football world” will be watching every play from this moment forward, so Alabama must treat every opponent with the utmost respect, and play at a very high level for the remainder of the season. Now that Alabama is being talked about as the “best team in the country”…the Crimson Tide most play aggressive and disciplined football for the remainder of the season. The objective will not change...but the intensity will certainly rise.
In respect to the game with South Carolina, this would appear to be the “perfect game” for a letdown. Other than some shaky moments against Virginia Tech and Florida International, the Crimson Tide has been a solid football team who has controlled each and every game.
Steve Spurrier is still a very good football coach and has forgotten more about the game than most coaches know. Granted, South Carolina doesn’t have the talent to compete with Alabama, they do have an “iron fist” roaming the sidelines. If Carolina can remain disciplined and force Alabama to be inconsistent and capitalize on mistakes, this “could” be a close game in the final quarter.
However, if you live on the other side of the fence (like me), this will be yet another game where the “fate” of the opposition will be decided before the final quarter ever begins. South Carolina is ranked, and they are certainly a solid football team, but I can’t see how they can compete with Alabama for an entire game. This game (like many ‘Bama games) will be decided in the trenches and when Carolina has the football. The Alabama offense will slowly grind away at the Carolina defensive front, while the ‘Bama defense will force the Gamecocks to make mistakes that will lead to turnovers.
Like many opponents have found this season, holding back the “Tide” can’t be done with a broom. South Carolina will find themselves a little “water-logged” once the final quarter rolls around at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Prediction: Alabama 38 South Carolina 17
South Carolina/Alabama will be televised on ESPN with kickoff expected around
6:45 p.m. central time.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 3:20 PM
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Alabama fans didn’t see former coach Gene Stallings on the sidelines against
Ole Miss…but they did see his 1992 defense. Thanks to a “brick wall” defensive effort, and key plays on special teams, Alabama defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 22-3 in Oxford, on Saturday.
Jevan Snead and the Ole Miss offense were utterly dreadful in the first half thanks to the Alabama defense. The Ole Miss quarterback was 2 of 12 with 14 yards passing, and two interceptions. The suffocating Alabama defense held Ole Miss to only 19 yards as a team, and the Rebels only garnered a single first down in the first half of action. On the day, Snead completed 11 of 34 passes for only 140 yards and four interceptions, (Justin Woodall, Javier Arenas, Kareem Jackson, and Rolando McClain) which tied a career-high.
In the special teams department Alabama was outstanding. Linebacker Cory Reamer blocked a punt, and also stripped Ole Miss return man Dexter McCluster of the football late in the third period. Both miscues would prove costly for the Rebels as the Crimson Tide were able to covert those turnovers into points.
Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy didn’t have his best game, but that was due to the tough Ole Miss defense. The Crimson Tide had several chances to blow the game wide open but were forced to settle for short field goals thanks to the tough “red-zone” defense applied by the Rebels. Tide placekicker Leigh Tiffin made five field goals against Ole Miss, which was only one shy of the ‘Bama single-game record.
The only touchdown of the game was scored by Alabama running back Mark Ingram. Late in the first half the Crimson Tide were facing a fourth-and-1 when Ingram took the pitch from Greg McElroy and rumbled 36 yards for a touchdown. Ingram (once again), had a monster game. Mark rushed for a career-high 172 yards on 28 carries, and the aforementioned touchdown.
In the second half Ole Miss tried to shows signs of life but Alabama always managed to “pull the rug” out from under the Rebels just in time to stop the Jevan Snead passing attack.
In the fourth period with the Rebels “knocking on the door,” Snead fired a fastball that was intercepted by Alabama defensive back Kareem Jackson, and returned 80 yards to the Ole Miss 20-yard line. Alabama would come away scoreless, but the deep penetration by Ole Miss was turned away by the Jackson "pick" which was Jevan Snead’s third interception of the contest.
The 'Bama offense wasn’t pretty, but the defense was the definition of sexy! The domination of an SEC team with sheer defense alone may have the Tide offensive coaches looking for answers, but it will also have every coach across the
nation…running for cover.
Defense wins championships…right coach Stallings?
With the victory over Ole Miss, Alabama improves to 6-0 on the season, and 3-0 in the SEC. The Crimson Tide gained a spot in the AP Poll, catapulting to No. 2 in the nation behind the Florida Gators. Alabama remains at No. 3 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
NOTE: Coming soon…Alabama/South Carolina preview.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 2:30 PM
Friday, October 9, 2009
Last Week: 6-1
To play, or not to play, that is the question? This is certainly not William Shakespeare, but Florida fans are on pins and needles waiting for a decision regarding the playing status of “all world” quarterback Tim Tebow. Even though the build up for this contest feels like a soap opera, the basic idea is rather simple. LSU has been living by the “better to be lucky than good” formula in the eyes of many fans and “experts” across the nation. This contest will most certainly be a perfect time to silence the nation and the detractors of LSU coach Les Miles. The atmosphere at Tiger Stadium will be electric, but players decide ball games, not fans. Florida wins…because they are simply the better team.
As Jevan Snead goes…so goes Ole Miss. The Rebels certainly have talent on the offensive side of the ball, but I can’t help but think they’ve never seen anything like the 2009 version of the Alabama defense. Click here for my in-depth game preview.
When you look at this game from a statistical point of view, the final score could be 70-60…and I’m not joking. Auburn has a horrible pass defense and Arkansas has no defense at all! On the flip side, both teams have outstanding offensive playmakers and can put points on the board. The one thing Auburn has been lacking in 2009 is a pass rush. If Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett can have time in the pocket to be comfortable and make throws, this game could be a “last team with the ball wins” type of contest. However, I think Auburn has too many playmakers and riding a 5-0 wave doesn’t hurt either.
This has all the makings of a “lose and you’re fired” game for Georgia coach Mark Richt. Granted that won’t literally happen if the Bulldogs lose to Lane Kiffin, but if Georgia allows the pathetic Tennessee offense to be the deciding factor in a Tennessee victory then…well…um…fired? In all seriousness, the Bulldogs cannot afford to lose this game! You want to talk about a long season? Try losing to Lane Kiffin and the Tennessee offense.
I know this game will be “buried” come Saturday but this contest is very interesting. Houston quarterback Case Keenum leads a high powered offense who averages 42 points per game. Mississippi State is dreadful…however...they are an SEC team. Can Houston continue to crank out offensive numbers against an SEC defense? It should be an interesting contest from that prospective. Does this game really mean anything? No. Will it be a nice litmus test for the Houston program? Yes.
I expect this to be a close game, but I also expect South Carolina to be more physical, and make more productive plays on both sides of the ball. The Gamecocks are a much improved football team, and Carolina will win this one at home.
WINNER: SOUTH CAROLINA
The SEC has one “who cares” game each and every week. Vandy/Army take the honors for October 10, 2009.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 2:36 PM
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain has been named the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week as well as SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Kentucky.
McClain led the Crimson Tide with 12 tackles including a forced fumble in the first half which was recovered by Courtney Upshaw, and returned for a touchdown. McClain also made a pivotal interception in the third quarter which would lead to a Mark Ingram 32-yard touchdown run.
Alabama has continued to shift linebackers this week in practice as the team tries to fill the void left by the injured Dont’a Hightower. Rolando McClain is as stationary as a wall, but Cory Reamer, Eryk Anders, and Courtney Upshaw have been playing “musical chairs” since the injury to Hightower.
Tide linebacker Jerrell Harris will be eligible to play against South Carolina on
Oct. 17, and should provide an extra man in the rotation at linebacker. In the preseason, Harris was listed as the back-up to Dont’a Hightower at the inside linebacker position.
Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt has closed practice this week leading up to the game with Alabama. Interviews will be granted but actual "practice access" will be denied. This is the first time Nutt has closed practice during his tenure at Ole Miss. Nutt says he wants his team to be focused on football…and nothing else.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 12:20 PM
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
If you’re a fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide or the Ole Miss Rebels this was “THE GAME” on the 2009 schedule. Due to the success of both teams in 2008, the ‘Bama/Ole Miss contest this season appeared to be the game of the decade. In the eyes of many “experts” the showdown in Oxford would determine the SEC Western Division champion…and possibly…the national champion.
Even though the match-up doesn’t seem to be as appealing as it did in June, and only one team is undefeated entering the contest…the stakes are still very high. The “hoopla” has been scaled down a notch, but this game could still decide the SEC Western Division champion. Ole Miss is out of national title contention but I’m sure the Rebels would love nothing more than to derail the Crimson Tide, and end all hopes of a possible national championship.
So, is this game still important? Try losing if you’re Alabama…and you’ll never forget the importance.
ALABAMA KEYS TO VICTORY:
How can Alabama prevent a “meltdown” and improve to 6-0 on the season? Well, let’s take a look at who powers the Ole Miss Rebels.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Rebels are led by quarterback Jevan Snead who is regarded as one of the best in the nation. Although Snead can look shaky at times, he is a solid signal caller that any team would love to have under center.
The Alabama defense will look to pressure Snead and also disguise defensive coverage. Many times Snead has difficulty thinking on his feet and seems to get frustrated when things start to fall apart. In the Ole Miss loss at South Carolina, Jevan Snead looked like the worst quarterback in the country at times due to defensive pressure...and utter frustration. The Crimson Tide defense must FORCE Snead to make plays…rather than GIVING HIM TIME to make plays.
Watching Jevan Snead in live action, as well as on game film, he seems to have an issue keeping the ball down. When he makes an errant throw…he misses high. Snead has thrown five interceptions in 2009 and three of those were against Vanderbilt. If Snead is forced to move around in the pocket and make ill-advised throws that sail on his receivers…the ‘Bama defense will be very successful.
When Snead goes back to pass who will Alabama need to cover? The answer is Shay Hodge. Regarded as one of the top receivers in the SEC, Hodge has 17 receptions for 269 yards this season. Hodge averages 15.8 yards per catch to go along with three touchdowns. Applying pressure to Jevan Snead will not only disrupt his concentration…but the pass routes in general. Hodge can’t make a
play…if he can’t get the ball. The Tide defense can take out "two Rebels with one stone" if they can get heavy pressure on Snead.
On the ground, the Rebels are led by Brandon Bolden and Cordera Eason. Bolden is the leading rusher on the team, and the Rebels like to utilize a solid ground attack to counter Jevan Snead and the passing game. The ‘Bama defense was “suspect” against the run versus Kentucky. The Crimson Tide front line will need to stop the run in order to be efficient against the Ole Miss offense.
Like many good teams, Ole Miss has a man of many talents in Dexter McCluster. The Alabama defense can expect to see McCluster at running back, wide receiver, and the showcase feature in the “Wild Rebel” formation taking the direct snap out of the shotgun formation. McCluster is small…but quick. He will certainly present Alabama with a difficult challenge.
When Alabama has the football…look for Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy. The Crimson Tide offensive line will need to contain Hardy in order to give quarterback Greg McElroy ample time in the pocket to make accurate and timely throws.
As for the Alabama offensive plan…”keep on keeping on” is a good motto to remember. The running game will be utilized to establish the pass, and the pass will be utilized to establish the run. The key to victory for Alabama depends more on shutting down the Ole Miss offense...than actual offensive production from the Crimson Tide. Ole Miss has a solid defense in all phases of the game, but Alabama has an equally (if not better) offense to counter the Rebels defense. I look for the Crimson Tide to have another solid offensive performance and score over 30 points for the sixth consecutive game in 2009.
If I had to put my finger on the major deciding factor, it would be the Alabama defense. As mentioned above, Alabama will score, but the game will be decided when Ole Miss has the football. If the Rebels offense can't produce...'Bama will win going away. The nation witnessed how Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett performed against Alabama, and I can’t help but think Jevan Snead could meet a similar fate. The game is in Oxford, so the crowd will be a factor as long as Ole Miss is within striking distance. However, I get the feeling that Ole Miss simply won’t have enough "gas in the tank" once the final quarter rolls around. As the game marches on, a tired Ole Miss defense will take the fall in this one.
Prediction: Alabama 35 Ole Miss 21
Alabama/Ole Miss will be televised on CBS with kickoff expected around 2:35 p.m. central time.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 1:56 PM
Sunday, October 4, 2009
It didn’t look pretty after the first quarter, but it’s the finish that counts. After a sluggish start the No. 3 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide coasted to a 38-20 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats, Saturday afternoon.
Courtesy of a Mark Ingram touchdown the Tide led 7-6 after the first quarter. In the second period, ‘Bama running back Trent Richardson barely got out of the endzone to avoid a safety. The “what could have been” development for
Kentucky…turned into a game changing opportunity for Alabama.
The Crimson Tide would drive 97 yards which would culminate with a Colin Peek
3-yard touchdown reception from Greg McElroy. Then, with the half winding to a close, ‘Bama would score again. In the final seconds of the half Kentucky running back Derrick Locke would get the football popped loose by linebacker Rolando McClain. The ball would fall into the hands of fellow linebacker Courtney Upshaw who then raced down the sidelines 45 yards for a touchdown. Within 19 seconds of “game play” the Tide added 14 points to the scoreboard.
In the second half, ‘Bama would blow the game wide open and take a 31-6 lead. For yet another week, the game was decided before the final quarter ever began. Alabama would add another touchdown and cruise to a 38-20 victory.
Tide running back Mark Ingram ran for a career-high 140 yards and scored two touchdowns against Kentucky. Alabama Tight End Colin Peek, who had some early drops against Arkansas, had a fantastic game with six catches for a total of 65 yards, including a first half touchdown reception from Greg McElroy.
On the defensive side of the ball, Alabama was solid. Linebacker Rolando McClain had a superb outing against the Wildcats. McClain led the team with 12 tackles including a forced fumble in the first half, as well as an interception in the third quarter which led to a Mark Ingram 32-yard touchdown scamper.
The game wasn’t pretty in the early stages, but the Tide dominated the latter portion of the second quarter, and the entire second half. With the victory over Kentucky, the Tide improves to 5-0 on the season, and 2-0 in the SEC.
The wind proved to be a vital factor in the game, but when it was all said and done, it was a “Crimson Tide” that proved to be the most brutal element for Kentucky.
NOTE: Coming soon...Alabama/Ole Miss preview.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 1:08 PM
Friday, October 2, 2009
Last Week: 7-1
This should be a showdown! In my honest opinion LSU is a top 15 team at best. Yes, they're undefeated and have moved up in the polls due to other teams losing, but LSU is a “good” team…that’s all. This will be a showcase game for Georgia and if the Bulldogs can take this one…the Oklahoma State loss will be a distant memory.
The Auburn offense goes head-to-head with the UT defense on Rocky Top! If you’re a fan of SEC football, this my friends…is a good weekend. Auburn has more talent, but the defense has struggled at times this season. If the Auburn offense ever has a major “hiccup” the Tigers could be in serious trouble. If things go as “planned” this game should be decided in the final quarter of play. Since I can’t make SEC predictions that have a “pick 'em” outcome…
Kentucky doesn’t have an explosive offense, but they're still very talented. The ‘Bama defense will once again have to play a solid game, and quarterback Greg McElroy must “pace” the team on the offensive side of the ball. I look for this game to be very similar to the 'Bama/Arkansas contest, with Kentucky scoring a few more points. Don’t fear Tide fans, when the clock ticks down at Commonwealth Stadium listen close for “Rammer Jammer” as Alabama improves to 5-0 on the season.
GEORGIA TECH/MISSISSIPPI STATE
The Yellow Jackets will play a football game in the state of Mississippi for the first time in 117 years of Tech football. Even though the Jackets are former members of the SEC…they never played in Mississippi. Tech will be 1-0 after Saturday night!
WINNER: GEORGIA TECH
This should be another good game for SEC and college football fans alike. Even though Arkansas and A&M aren’t “world beaters” or national powers this should be a great game. The atmosphere for this contest should be fantastic and I look for the Hogs to take this one.
Ole Miss needs to find an offense before the Crimson Tide invade Oxford, and Vandy is just what the doctor ordered. Ole Miss wins…before ‘Bama comes to call.
WINNER: OLE MISS
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE/SOUTH CAROLINA
Spurrier and the Gamecocks add another “W” to the results column.
WINNER: SOUTH CAROLINA
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 2:37 PM