ed.- bumped from the fanposts.
In the past few weeks, a lot of electrons have been spilled examining the strong and capable 2009 Alabama squad. TeamSpeedKills has even said "Alabama has played the best football in the SEC so far." Here at RollBamaRoll, you'll see a lot of pride and praise, but constructive criticism as well, often revolving around the idea that the team may not be living up to its perceived potential.
Recently, while acknowledging the value of statistics in achieving a deeper understanding of the Tide (in a great post by Nico), I urged that we use statistics "to serve as tools, or insights, but not definitions" of the team. Said a lot simpler: with Alabama, it's the intangibles that matter, and that make the real difference in our games. Accordingly, it can be difficult for us, the hardcore fans, to get what others see--because we're gritting our teeth over a dropped pass, or a false start.
In the world of statistics, a guy that can run a 4.4 will beat a guy that runs a 4.7--it's just math. So is knowing the playbooks--your and the other fella's--and how much you can bench press.
But math can't fully account for George Teague running like the Flash or Tyrone Prothro having magic hands. In certain situations, intangibles take over--you can call it character, or guts, or tradition, or the zone, but it's the same thing. And Bama is loaded with it, past and present.
Math can explain the Cornelius Bennett's massive, powerful Sack--watch very closely as the Notre Dame fullback runs right past the blazing locomotive wearing 97. He blew that block in the worst way--and the quarterback paid the price. It's awesome--but it's math. Even some of Javier Arenas' explosive returns are math as well--a combination of speed, opportunity, and foresight resulting in success.
But raw numbers can only partly account for times when other teams and other players would have caved. Statistics may tell us the success rate of running backs, but can't account for the times they break loose and do something awesome. You can put a number on how many tackles Rolando McClain has, but there's no metric for "knocking the ball loose so Courtney Upshaw grab it in mid-air and run it in for six" or "tipping the ball in the air to keep it in play because you are almost unnaturally intelligent and gifted at football."
Did the Tide play lackluster ball at Kentucky? The statistics may say yes. But there's something else there burbling just beneath the surface, and it's that unspoken intangible power that propels Alabama to victory time and time again. It's that power that brings the Tide national accolades, and while we can't measure it, it makes Fall Saturdays a true joy.