15 September 2008
The always excellent Third Saturday in Blogtober hosts the Roundtable this week. After our drubbing of Western Kentucky, this list of questions finds me in better spirits.
Let's kick it off:
1. What are your feelings on Alabama’s current position in the polls? Are we overrated? Underrated? Just right?
I really honestly believe we've not proved ourselves as a top 10 team just yet. The hardest parts of our schedule are still very much in front of us. However, I can totally sympathize with voters who have placed us in the top 10. I tried as hard as I could to keep us out... and was staring at 10th place on my ballot knowing I had to put us there.
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?
I was pleasantly surprised to see the offense roll again. I was concerned that it was going to be an issue. When we were able to move the ball at will, it was a fantastic (if mild) surprise.
It certainly wasn't that we were dominated, but I really hated to see the defense give up their first TD of the year. I knew it would come sooner or later, but I was surprised it was this Saturday and not next.
3. Name your player of the game on Offense. Also name one on Defense.
John Parker Wilson looked great. Sure, he threw an interception, but I firmly believe that QBs who never throw any interceptions probably aren't taking enough chances. On the plus side, he hit big plays and long passes and generally managed the offense as well as you can ask.
On defense Rashad Johnson has been great all year long. Saturday, he added 7 tackles and broke up 2 passes. Considering his exceptionally limited action (mostly on special teams) freshman Courtney Upshaw deserves an honorable mention for his 6 tackles.
4. Who on each side of the ball has been the biggest surprise to you so far?
On defense, it's been Dont'a Hightower. And, it's not been a good surprise. Hightower is exceptionally athletic, fast, strong and will be a great linebacker. Right now, he seems lost at least 50% of the time. I'd have assumed, based on his being named starter, that he had a more firm grasp of the defense. It seems that it's just lack of quality depth at the position.
On offense, it's Mark Ingram. I suspected he was good, but I didn't suspect it was this good. Nine carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday was another exceptionally solid performance for the freshman.
5. The last three weeks were fun, but now it’s time for conference play. What area of play concerns you now that we’re getting into the more physical stretch of the schedule?
Linebackers. And the linebackers. Also, linebacker play. We're short depth there for certain, and I feel like it's just a matter of time before Prince Hall re-asserts himself into the starting lineup. But the fact that Tulane and (to a lesser extent) Western Kentucky were both able to take advantage of the linebackers with short, underneath passes.
What really terrifies me is that's exactly what the Arkansas offense is based around. We need to get better there, and quickly.