WE PAID $4 MILLION FOR THESE ANSWERS??!!?!11

First off, let me be clear: I haven't lost one bit of faith in this team or it's coaching staff, and am completely pleased with the attitude of this team and the fact that they dug deep to come back in the fouth quarter for two weeks in a row. Under the former staff, we would have been mauled in the past two games, but the fact that this staff has this team playing well above where they should be is a testament to their abilities and I say they are worth every penny they are getting, if not more. The "WE PAID FOUR MILLION FOR" headlines are simply a tongue in cheek reference to the presumed reaction by the media and everyone else of Alabama fans to Saban's first loss. So to all you message board heroes without a sense of humor out there, and especially to those of you who want to lie about me "pimping" this site on your forums when I have NEVER in my life posted to an Alabama message board, shut your cake holes.

The McPhee is clearly perturbed by your ignorance and slander.

That being said, I was thoroughly baffled by our gameplan on Saturday. Anyone that saw Georgia's loss to South Carolina knew the Dawgs were gonna run screens on us like nobody's business, and the 'Cocks put on a clinic on how to keep their offense in check all day. Even the venerable SMQ took notice:

Georgia faced three straight third-and-long situations on its opening drive of the game, and picked up the first down on a screen pass against an Alabama blitz on every one of them. The screens went to three different players - Sean Bailey, Knowshon Moreno and Thomas Brown - and contributed 44 of the drive's 70 yards, including the final ten on Brown's catch-and-run to the end zone on 3rd-and-8. Fool me once, shame on you, but three times? Even with a short field to defend in the red zone, the Tide kept right on blitzin'.

I made comments on this blog and elsewhere that the two big keys to this game for us would be controlling time of possession with the ground game to keep the defense fresh, and taking advantage of the UGA o-line's youth and inexperience to shut down UGA's passing game. On both counts, we failed. We went completely away from the ground game despite Terry Grant's 7.3 ypc average on 11 carries, and continued to throw the ball despite JPW completing less than 50% of his passes and looking flat for most of the game. If this kid could play like he does in the fourth quarter the whole game, this offense would be unstoppable. As it is, though, there are still too many overthrown passes and bad decisions being made through most of the game, and the Dawgs held the ball for the vast majority of the game, keeping the defense on the field for too long.

As for the D, well, that's excusable. I think these guys are playing well above their capabilities, making plays and going hard no matter how tired they are, and considering this was an expected weakness for us, I'm more than pleased with their effort and attitude.

With all the negatives we can say about the performance on Saturday, there are plenty of positives to take away as well. After being dominated for most of the game, the team never gave up and fought back. That's not something we're used to seeing and, even in defeat, it still makes me proud of our team, and continues to build up our hope that we can always expect to be in any game we play no matter who the opponent. Second, now we get to see how this team responds to an emotional loss. I'm willing to bet they come out focused and energized this weekend, unlike the teams of the past four years who seemed dazed for weeks after a loss. Third, even though I've questioned the game plan in this very post, I'm certain it's all part of "The Process," and that the staff just found out more about their team, what they can do, and how they respond to different situations than they've known so far, and it will only serve to make this team even better on down the line. As much as I hate a loss, and as heartbreaking as it was to see this team lose in OT after putting their heart and soul into getting there, I'm still excited about our chances for the rest of the season.

On to the questions:

On Offense:

1. I'm going to keep asking it until I finally get an answer: Whither Jimmy Johns?

Still no sightings. Again, I'm baffled. Something else I'm baffled by is the complete lack of a fullback in this offense. Huber was in a considerable amount during the opener, and his presence (or Johns lining up at FB) opens up a lot more play action possibilities and throws to the flats, but until the UGA game I haven't noticed the FB being used in anything other than goal line and short yardage situations. We're playing power run with single back sets without a lead blocker, and I really think we could benefit from the use of a FB.

2. The Georgia front seven is still a question mark for the Dawgs? Will Grant be able to break off the kind of spectacular runs we all love to see on a consistent basis?

Yes, but not in the quantities that we would have liked. He had two significant carries for over twenty yards, but only got 11 touches despite being the only truly consistent playmaker on the offense.

3. Will we see another step forward for John Parker Wilson, like we saw from the Vandy game to the Arkansas game?

On the contrary. He looked good again in the fourth quarter, but struggled through the first three. This was a step back for Wilson, and I'm really not sure what's going on with him. He has the arm, he has the smarts, but he's not executing like the QB he is, and the overthrown balls were painful to watch.

4. Can the offense move the ball and get some good, long drives going to keep the defense fresh?

Again, no. I was sorely dissapointed in the offense once again, and considering this is supposed to be the real strength of the Tide this year, seeing them struggle like that doesn't bode well. We have the playmakers, but both the execution and the calls were lacking this week, and that's something we can't afford.

5. Will we be able to get some key scores early on like last week, or will this be a struggle from the first snap?

Sadly, it was a struggle from the first snap. Again, this offense can't afford to struggle early on, especially against teams like Georgia. If we can't get the upper hand early on and keep pouring it on, then we'll be in for tough times ahead.

On Defense:

1. We did a better job getting takeaways last week. Can we keep that up?

Two picks always looks good, but unless we can start capitalizing on all of them (Lionel Mitchell's first INT resulted in a three and out) they're useless to us.

2. With such an inexperienced o-line to protect him, Stafford is a sitting duck. Can we take advantage?

Afraid not. No sacks, but we did get decent pressure (one of which forced his second INT). Still, after all the harrassment he's gotten this year, I was really surprised we weren't in his face more.

3. The Georgia running backs aren't exactly McFadden and Jones, but they are still talented and more than capable. Will we be able to contain them better?

Neither topped 100 yards, so I have to say yes.

4. Casey Dick was able to make some plays through the air last week because of bad/busted coverage. Stafford is clearly a better QB, so will we be able to either a) keep his receivers blanketed, or b) keep him from making good throws with pressure up front?

I think we did a better job with the latter. If Tripp Chandler had made all of the catches that were squarely in his hands with no defenders near him, this game could have been a lot uglier for us. The coverage in the secondary is still lacking, and I'm starting to get antsy about Houston because of it.

5. Finally, if Prince Hall is starting in place of an injured Darren Mustin, will he be able to get back to his production level last season now that he's had a week to practice with the first team?

Hall led the team in tackles with 12 (6 solo and 6 assists), but Mustin's presence was sorely felt, especially on that first drive. McClain might be calling the plays, but Mustin has apparently played a key role in making sure everyone is lined up right.

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