Friday, January 08, 2010

National Championship game thoughts: Roll Tide, and a devastating loss for the Longhorns.

1) FINALLY. We are back! National Champs! But the score doesn't tell the bigger story of this game. First for the bad:

2)Certain parts of Alabama's team played horribly. Just bad. Special teams, as well as the playcalling in the first quarter could have been much better. Also the offense's passing game and inability to convert 3rd downs (1/12). Inexcusable. We almost gave the game away due to stupid mistakes. It is unbelievable to me that Texas was able to punt/kickoff to us TWICE and recover the ball. If they convert those this is a much different game, McCoy or not. The fact that Alabama didn't get a 1st down for the entire 3rd quarter is mind boggling.

3)Now for the good: Our defense proved we were the best defensive team in the country, shutting down Florida and Texas. Texas came in averaging 41 points a game, and got held to half of that. Also, the clean hard hit that took Colt McCoy out was all part of the game plan (somewhat). By that, I mean it is a SEC/Alabama philosophy to target the QB on defense and disrupt their offense, either by interceptions, hurry up, knockdowns, or blocked passes. We did all of the above, and the strength of our hits are directly what caused the injury to Colt. All of the what-ifs about how the game would have been are irrelevant, because Alabama caused the hit and injury. The biggest reason this was such a game changer is because TX is a one trick pony on offense. Everything they accomplished this year offensively ran directly through Colt McCoy. He was the second leading RUSHER on the Longhorns. In the SEC, this is blasphemy. The most average SEC defensive coordinator would take this as a personal and professional insult for a team to come in and run all over them with a QB. Not going to happen. the Longhorns honestly wouldn't have made it to the NC game if they were in the SEC, not with the game plan they have concerning their QB. The SEC defense is too physical for the QB to carry the ball even 10 or 15 times a game, he would have been hurt by their bye week.This should come as a surprise to no-one. Alabama has been the most physical football team in America the entire season. We knocked out 3 starters from LSU earlier this season in one half, and we nearly took out Gilbert, the backup QB from Texas. If you are gameplanning for Alabama you have to either protect your QB or have a good backup plan in place because we are going to hit him, and hit him hard. Texas as the king of the Big 12 was not used to that ferocity. Neither were they used to SEC running capabilities. Alabama exposed their vaunted #1 rushing defense by shredding it with not one but TWO 100+ yard rushing backs, Richardson and Ingram. Richardson broke the game open with a 49 yard TD run up the middle in the second quarter and Ingram shut the door in the fourth quarter muscling in for a 1 yard TD. While the TX defense was good, they were just not ready for that caliber of running back. Plays that would be a loss of yardage tackle in the Big 12 last night became gains of 3 and four yards. I saw plays where Richardson and Ingram required gang tackles to bring them down, and even then they were moving the pile. Unbelievable.

4)The freshman kid from Texas (Gilbert) looked solid after he calmed down a bit. He couldn't have been expected to carry the team to the Title but he gave it a good shot with 2 TD passes to Shipley, who just played himself into the first round of the NFL draft. Saban's defensive schemes were too much, and, as expected, a big hit caused a fumble from him and sealed the game. The 4th and final interception in the last 2 minutes didn't help TX either.

5)The biggest challenge now for the Tide is going to be replicating this next season. They are losing a lot of valuable assets, especially on defense. Mt. Cody is done. Same for Rolando, the QB on Defense. luckily both running backs will still be available, but Saban is going to have to do some heavy duty 5 star recruiting to get some major talent in Tuscaloosa. I have confidence he can do it. The SEC is wide open for the Tide to take it next year, with Florida losing their superman in Tebow, Ga not having a coach, and LSU being the only team seemingly with the personnel to threaten us. The issue will be winning the conference and staying injury free, something that we were lucky enough to do this year but could truly strike next year. Football has a 100% injury rate. We are one big hit from losing out on a National Championship bid every season, which is why a little luck is involved with these things.

6) How big is this for the State of Alabama? In a place where Football is king, and the closest NFL team of merit is 2 hours away (Titans) and there are no professional sports, for the Crimson Tide to win here means more then any other place in the country,I am sure of it. As it is, the state takes an unfair amount of ribbing and "redneck" jokes and is looked down on by the rest of the Country, even though we are the birthplace of the space program, the missile defense center for the US, top 10 place to raise kids, center for world class research and development,most economical cost of living, nice weather, nature, etc. etc. The past 10 years have been hell for Bama fans, with 3 coaches, a losing season, and an Ungodly streak of losses against the Auburn Tigers. We as fans and members of Bama nation prayed (this IS the Bible belt, you know!) for the day when the state's namesake would return to the glory days.

The biggest gripe I have always heard from haters (Florida fans, LSU fans especially) is that Alabama is not relevant, nor have they won any Championship in 20 years. That we as Bama fans cling to the Bear and won't let him die. So you now have your wish. We have let the Bear go, and have entered the BCS era of championships. Be careful what you wish for, you may get more then you bargained for. How ya like us now?



Rushing yards for Alabama, which was the most Texas had allowed in a game this season.


Time of possession for Alabama, including an edge of more than nine minutes in the second and fourth quarters.


Turnovers for Texas, all originating with backup QB Garrett Gilbert.


Number of plays before Colt McCoy exited for good with a shoulder injury


Years since Alabama had won a game in the Rose Bowl stadium.


The last year that the Tide had two 100-yard rushers in a game as Mark Ingram (116) and Trent Richardson (109) managed.


Number of minutes Alabama had gone without a turnover before the fake punt interception in the first quarter.


Number of national titles now claimed by Alabama


Number of coaches to have now won BCS titles at multiple schools (much less within six years of each other).

(Big numbers From, Gentry Estes)

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