01 September 2008
Obviously, when you beat the #9 ranked team in the country (let’s pretend they should have been for a minute) 34-10 there is a lot of praise to go around. I wanted to take a minute to give you some of my thoughts on guys who might not get the recognition this week that they ought to.
Marlon Davis and Mike Johnson:
Andre Smith is the best tackle in the country. We know this. Antoine Caldwell is one of the best centers around. We also know this. Those two guys played great up front on Saturday night, but everyone expects them to play that well all the time.
The knock on Davis is that he can be lazy and is injury prone. Johnson was serviceable at right tackle last season but is playing a new position this season. We expect them to just not screw up, right? They did a little more than that, teaming with Caldwell to beat Clemson’s defensive line into submission.
Mark Ingram finished with 97 yards rushing and Glenn Coffee racked up 90 yards, both on 17 carries, by running it up the gut on most plays. Davis and Johnson led the way, clearing running lanes big enough to drive a truck (or maybe an Escalade
These two road graders, along with the rest of the Tide offensive line, did not give up a sack during the game.
We all watched Johnson get abused in Jacksonville last season against Florida State. Johnson did a lot to erase that memory with his play in Atlanta.
Besides the interception in the 2nd quarter, Johnson finished with five tackles and did a fine job in coverage against a fast group of Clemson receivers. It's likely the Crimson Tide playing a lot of nickel defense this season and Johnson proved Saturday night that he belongs ahead of heralded freshmen Alonzo Lawrence and Robbie Green.
Numero cinco has had his share of problems in his time at the Capstone. These are well documented. In the Georgia Dome Saturday night Upchurch showed that he is finally ready to be a consistent contributor to this offense this season.
Finishing with 37 yards rushing on eight attempts and hauling in four passes for 30 yards are nice numbers from your third tailback. But Upchurch also showed off some much improved pass blocking when asked to stay in and cover Wilson’s back side.
If Upchurch can continue to play the way he did against Clemson for the rest of the season, he should get more and more touches giving the Tide the four-headed tailback rotation that Saban loves to employ. Having that many quality backs allows Saban to keep them all fresh. And that will be critical as the SEC season begins to wear on everyone.