08 September 2008
has given us the honors to host the Crimson and White Roundtable this week. We're the new kids on the block around here, and we're proud that he's trusted us to handle the duties this week.
The format we're working from is sort of a bit "fixed". We'll start with three standard questions each week, then work in a couple of originals.
Thanks to those who've answered our call so far:
So, without further ado, here's this week's Crimson and White Roundtable.
1. What are your feelings on Alabama's current position in the polls? Are we overrated? Underrated? Just right?
I've ranked the Tide 13th in my BlogPoll ballot. I think that's probably about right based on what I've seen right now. I think the real danger in the short term is that we'll have a matchup of "Top 10 teams" in Athens in a few weeks. And I don't think Bama is a top ten team just yet. We'll see.
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?
This one is a little rough this week, since in my estimation, there was very little domination on either side of the ball in the Tulane game. Alabama may have owned the special teams battle - but nearly allowed a kickoff return. Tulane may have ruled time of possession, but they weren't able to reliably convert that to points.
It was a poorly played game by Alabama, and one that a more talented Tulane team could have won. But the Tide managed to gut it out and concentrate when it mattered most.
In today's press conference, Saban noted that Bama's defense toughened every time in the red zone, holding Tulane to field goal attempts in each of their drives inside the 20. To me, this speaks volumes about the primary issue Saturday - focus. When the Green Wave flirted with scoring, the Tide woke up, toughened and got the job done.
3. Name your player of the game on Offense. Also name one on Defense.
Although Mark Ingram looked sublime in limited action, I'm naming Javier Arenas as our "offensive" player of the game. He generated as many points as any one, and piled up more yards than the entire "offense". Without Javier, we may be talking about Tulane as the next Louisiana-Monore.
Except for the fact that Rolando McClain wouldn't have let that happen. He had 15 tackles (two for a loss) and a pass broken up in the game. Chris Low of ESPN
names him his SEC Defensive player of the week, and there aren't superlatives enough to describe his one man wrecking-ball of a performance.
However, let it be said here - for not the first and not the last time - that nearly any outstanding performance by any linebacker in our 3-4 defense is keyed by line play. If the linemen are filling gaps and forcing action elsewhere, the linebackers make the plays and rack up the stats. So, McClain needs to share his game ball with his D-Linemen who shouldered the load admirably up front.
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?
I ask this question primarily because I have no idea. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if Wilson throws for 400 yards against Western Kentucky. It also wouldn't surprise me if he threw for 40. I can't think of another quarterback at any level that is so wildly all over the mark.
He holds (or will hold, barring injury) every meaningful passing mark for Alabama quarterbacks. But, he has huge lapses in judgement and ability that make everyone doubt his ability and football IQ.
My actual prediction is that Wilson has the most talented group of receivers he's had since his arrival. McElwain's system presents the best possible opportunity for Wilson to succeeed. As he grows more and more comfortable with this system, he will improve. Timing with receivers is something that takes, well, time. And as he works with them more in game situations, he'll look better and better.
I look for a strong close to Wilson's Alabama career.
Or a total disaster. Who knows.
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?
Why do I ask myself such hard questions?
Well, if I try really hard, I can make this make sense. Against Clemson, we didn't get the pass work we wanted. That is, we didn't show the formations and the routes we wanted on film for Arkansas and Georgia, we didn't establish tendencies in the pass game we need to establish to make sure our offense runs like it needs to. So, against Tulane, we tried to get those formations and plays in and on film. And we tried to work at them.
That was an epic failure.
Obviously, we didn't move the ball well, and didn't protect the passer. Saban spread the blame around on the offense saying receivers "ran hot when they weren't hot" and hinting that backs did a poor job of picking up the blitz. Maybe we needed the game speed practice.
The only upside here is we've run two dramatically different styles in each of our first two games.That should mean the opposition has no idea what to expect and has to be ready for everything.
Sadly, only one has been successful at this point.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and we'll round all this round-tabling up late in the week.