Wow; this is a fun season to watch so far, isnít it?On Saturday, the Alabama Crimson Tide stormed into Oxford, MS to face the 16th (or 20th, depending on the poll you look at) ranked Ole Miss Rebels, and came away with an impressive 22-3 victory.This was an odd game from start to finish, but I for one was very happy with our performance.As always, there were positives and negatives, but for once, the positives greatly outweighed the negatives, so letís get to it.
First and foremost, our defense was absolutely dominant.As Alabama fans, we will always compare our defenses to the 1992 defense, and of course, all defenses will always fall short.However, there were times on Saturday that I felt like I was watching those guys from 1992.I guess a linebacker will never win the Heisman, but is there a better player in America than Rolando McClain right now?But letís not slight the other linebackers.Corey Reamer came out of nowhere to have a phenomenal game both on defense and on special teams.Eryk Anders appeared to play more like his old self and provided good QB pressure several times, and even Courtney Upshaw appeared to be getting into the act. In addition, Iím pretty sure this was the best Iíve seen our secondary look in a long time.Seriously, Iím having a hard time drilling down into individual plays to talk about.Javier Arenas, Mark Barron, Kareem Jackson, Justin Woodall, and Robby Green all had great plays that come to mind immediately, and Iím pretty sure even Marquis Johnson made a crucial pass breakup.But letís not leave out the defensive line.Brandon Deaderick appears to be back at full speed after getting shot 5 days before the season started, and Terrance Cody clogged up the middle all day long.And Marcel Dareus Ė whatís left to say about him?He played great all day, but that hit he laid on the poor Ole Miss RB will be emblazoned on my brain for years to come.If I sound enthused, I am.This was the best Iíve seen our defense look in years, and Iím 100% sure that Ole Miss would agree!
Our offense wasnít quite as impressive, especially in the red zone. Three times, we had the ball first and goal from inside the 5, and we couldnít punch it in even once.Personally, I thought our play-calling was very questionable that deep in their territory, but our execution was so poor (fumbles, penalties, etc) that itís hard to completely blame the play-calling.I would have loved to have seen us line up in that goal-line I-formation with Cody at fullback, and pound either Ingram or Richardson (or Upchurch for that matter) right behind him.We might not get all three yards on the first play, but we get four downs, so Iím pretty sure we would have pounded it in eventually.
And not to pile on the offense too much, but I think this was probably McElroyís worst game so far.He did make some outstanding passes, mainly to Peek on the sideline, but he missed some open men, and more importantly, I think he made the wrong reads several times.He would throw into double or even triple coverage while other receivers needed therapy from being so lonely.Still, I have a lot of confidence in McElroy, and I think heíll get it together.As for our running game, it was pretty good.We had a lot of negative or zero yardage plays, but Ingram did finish with a career-high 172 yards, so clearly there were some positives in that aspect of the game.
And finally, last but not least, I need to mention Leigh Tiffin.Iíve been very hard on him in these blogs, but he did go 5-5 in field goals this week, and even though they were all very short (longest was 31 yards), several were at tough angles, and they were all important.Plus, at least two of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks (might have been more, but I can only remember 2), and with the inconsistency in our kickoff coverage, touchbacks are exceedingly important.Nice job Leigh!
Next week, we face another tough opponent in the South Carolina Gamecocks.South Carolina has an extremely tough defense.I know that sounds odd for a Steve Spurrier coached team, but itís absolutely the truth.The defense is among the best in the nation, and thatís particularly scary in this case, because there is always that chance that this is the week their Steve Spurrier offense clicks, and if so, we are in for a really tough, hard-fought game.That being said, I expect us to win; letís just hope Iím right!
Be sure to check back next week as I review the South Carolina game.Until then, feel free to send me any questions or comments.