23 November 2009
Forget any type of fancy introduction. It's Auburn week. And practice started today.
Here's what you need to know:
The injury situation is a bit unclear at the moment. Terry Grant was once again the only player in a black no contact jersey, continuing to suffer from a strained abdominal muscle.
Two Tide starters, Mike Johnson and Cory Reamer, were limited in practice. Both guys were cleared for contact, but both guys were limited in the work that they did during the media viewing period. My guess is that this is a situation of the coaching staff being very cautious with guys during a short week. I expect we'll see these two seniors play in thier final Alabama-Auburn game.
You'll notice that I didn't refer to it as the "Iron Bowl." The reason? It's not the Iron Bowl any more. It ceased to be the Iron Bowl in 1989 when the game stopped being a 50/50 split of tickets at Legion Field. Maybe I'm being a bit of a curmudgeon, but the atmosphere of that game was totally unique to that of any game, anywhere.
I saw my first game in 1984. I was eight. I missed the 1985 game, but began going again in 1986. The only game since that I haven't been in the stadium for was the 1993 game, when Auburn was on probation. I watched that game at Bryant-Denny Stadium - the only place in world that the game was available on television. Not counting that game, I've seen 24 of the last 26 games live.
I love this game. The individual moments that have piled up over those 24 games...
Rory Turner "waxing the dude". Bo running the wrong way. Langham taking things the distance to end Pat Dye's Auburn career. Freddie Kitchens and Dennis Riddle breaking hearts. Shaun Alexander setting Bama's career rushing record in Bama's first win at Auburn. 36-0.
I choose not to remember Ed Scissum fumbling, but instead I remember the number of guys that it took to tackle him on the subsequent kickoff. It's that passion, that emotion that makes this game special.
Emotion is a tricky thing, though. It can lead an inferior team to a major victory.
It can also be utterly destroyed by one swift and powerful smack in the head. And if emotion is the only thing that a team is riding on, it can lead to a long day for the inferior team. This Bama team is focused and intense. They are also the vastly superior team.
Don't expect Bama to do anything special or different in practice this week, because you shouldn't expect Bama to do anything special or different during the game on Friday.
Alabama is 10th in the nation in rushing offense. Auburn is 88th in the nation at stopping the run.
It is a bit ironic that Shaun Alexander broke Bama's career rushing record at Jordan-Hare Stadium, because this week we'll get to see Mark Ingram break the single season rushing record on the same field. And he'll break it by a lot.
Auburn simply can not stop the run. And Bama is one of the nation's best rushing teams.
That means we'll see a week of the offensive line working on dominating the guy in front of him - you might say that the goal would be to "make his ass quit!"
Bama won't totally abandon the pass. The Tide hasn't done that once this season, and Friday will be no different.
From a defensive standpoint, the focus will be on assignment football. Auburn runs a tremendous amount of misdirection plays, and if you try to play the ball, you typically give up big plays. If you stick to your containment assignment, though, you stop plays. Bama has excelled at playing assignment football this season, and Friday will be no different.
Bama will practice again on Tuesday, and we'll have our normal report.
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