"I definitely think we are an offense that can run and pass at will when we are clicking on all cylinders," said tight end Brad Smelley, who caught his first career touchdown pass. "I think we showed that tonight that if you try to load the box, we can definitely make plays over the top and find the zones and the spaces that are open in there. We are a two-phase team so we can run and pass."
Saban questioned the team’s mental focus at halftime, Richardson said. "He basically told us that we had a mindset that we were going to just run them over," Richardson said. "He was telling us, ‘this is what happens when you don’t practice the way you are supposed to practice and are not ready the way you are supposed to be.’" Saban’s message was not lost on the team. "We heard that, and that is something coming from coach," Richardson said. "That is something we try to bring to our program, to be relentless, and that is something we strive on."
Expansion has not yet arrived in the Southeastern Conference. Even when the coming changes do take place, no one knows yet where or how the dividing line will be drawn. East/West? North/South? Perhaps an arbitrary demarcation unfettered by geography? Until then, Alabama and LSU, not content to wait, seem to be dividing the league into one two-team division - themselves - and another 10-team mass of everyone else. One could argue Kentucky is also placing itself apart from its league in a separate, if less desirable, division.
"We just didn't have the sense of purpose that we need, and this is the moral challenge that we all have: to overcome human nature, and to get satisfied too easily, and it wouldn't make any difference to me if I'm trying to be the best player I can be but I was playing Arkansas, Florida or Vanderbilt. ... "That's what we want to try and get them to do so that we can improve and get better as a team."
Richardson, who is ranked ninth nationally in rushing averaging 6.34 yards per game, quietly earned his fifth consecutive 100-yard rushing performance of 2011 running 19 times for 109 yards and a touchdown. The talk of his Heisman Trophy candidacy resurfaced after last week's career performance in a 38-10 win at Florida. In Gainesville, Florida, Richardson ran for a career high 29 carries and 181 yards, including two touchdowns. That performance prompted Alabama to include a comparison of Richardson's '11 statistics to those of 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram during his campaign that season.
Vanderbilt's streak of four straight games with an interception ended against A.J. McCarron and the Tide. McCarron finished with 237 yards and four touchdowns through the air, ending some of the mystique behind Vandy's vaunted secondary. The defense will have a week to regroup in order to take down Georgia next week.
Tennessee is a measuring stick. Sportswriters are poring over stats, trying to make comparisons between LSU and Alabama, and playing the game on paper before it’s played on the field. We got one comparison yesterday, with the LSU-Florida score practically matching that of the Tide-Gators. Of course, Florida was down to their third-string quarterback against LSU. Both Alabama and LSU play the Volunteers before their epic matchup, and college football fanatics will no doubt analyze each game, trying to draw conclusions. The next two weeks will be a dream for fans of smashmouth football, and a nightmare for Derek Dooley.
One problem for Bama Saturday night was the Tide’s short passing game was much too short. In the first half, the Tide had a handful of completed passes that actually lost yardage and several others that gained just a yard or two. In the first half, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron had some excellent numbers -- 18 of 23 for two touchdowns and no interceptions, but his 18 completions were for only 143 yards. The rushing game was just as dismal, 14 rushes for 46 yards. Nevertheless, Alabama managed a 14-0 first half lead on the strength of the two McCarron touchdown passes and Vanderbilt missing on a pair of field goal opportunities.
"It shows where you're mindset is at," Richardson said of the smash-mouth style. "It shows you can man up. We put our people in the box and they put theirs. We went man for man. "If you back them up and shove it down their throat, you show you're the better man and want it more." Richardson showed 101,821 announced fans he wanted it more and reminded Heisman Trophy voters everywhere of his ability to dominate the game. Richardson said he was happy to reach the 100-yard mark - he finished with 107 on 19 carries - but shied away when talk of the Heisman came up. "I don't think about a Heisman," Richardson said. "Like I said, I'm just blessed with a good offensive line."
Plotting the collision course: We’re that much closer to THE game, and it’s scary how dominant the two teams look each week. Alabama’s physical beatdown of Florida two Saturdays ago sent tremors throughout the league. Nobody goes into the Swamp and whips the Gators 38-10. But then you watch LSU chop down the Gators to the tune of a 41-11 rout, and it’s difficult to decipher who was more dominant. The collection of athletes on both defenses is stunning, and scoring points on offense hasn’t been a problem, either. Nov. 5 can’t get here soon enough.
Saban said the Tide simplified the defense after the Commodores gained 142 first-half yards. After switching to more zone coverage, Vanderbilt managed just 48 total second-half yards. "I feel like when they came out, they tried to do a bunch of gimmick plays," Hightower said. "We come out each and every week and let everybody know they aren't going to run the ball on us."
The Tigers next play at Tennessee, then host Auburn, but fans in the student section made it clear they're already looking forward to the Tigers' Nov. 5 trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala. They chanted, "We want 'Ba-ma," after the game.
The Alabama softball team split an exhibition doubleheader Sunday at Rhoads Stadium, defeating Shelton State, 2-0, and then falling to the National Pro Fastpitch All-Star team, 2-1. The NPF squad featured former Crimson Tide greats Kelsi Dunne, Kelly Kretschman, Kelley Montalvo and Charlotte Morgan. "For the four players to be able to come back and play on their former field was a great feeling," UA head coach Patrick Murphy said. "I know everyone in attendance appreciated it. They were all great kids to coach. It was great to see everybody, they all did well and it was a great honor to have the Pro Fastpitch team play at Alabama."
The most stunning comment in the article was DeFilippo’s public admission that ESPN guided the A.C.C.’s decision to add Syracuse and Pittsburgh last month. "We always keep our television partners close to us," DeFilippo told The Globe. "You don’t get extra money for basketball. It’s 85 percent football money. TV — ESPN — is the one who told us what to do. This was football; it had nothing to do with basketball." DeFilippo’s comments give credence to the popular theory that ESPN encouraged Pittsburgh and Syracuse’s exit from the Big East in the wake of the Big East’s turning down ESPN’s billion-dollar television deal in May during an exclusive negotiating window. ESPN has a billion-dollar deal with the A.C.C., making that move either savvy business or collusion, depending on one’s perspective.
People in the ACC want UConn, and if another round of conference expansion comes, there won't be a lot of options other than us. I get why BC is blocking us. No one wants to be the Washington St. of the east coast, but that's where BC is headed if UConn gets into the ACC. That invitation may never come, but if it does the Eagles are in trouble, because there are clearly times when your ability to stab someone in the back on a conference call really matters, but a football or basketball game isn't one of them.
Julio Jones didn't have to pull the little red wagon full of favors for hospitalized kids through the halls of Scottish Rite Hospital, but he grabbed the handle and headed for the next room along with two fellow rookies. Jones, Akeem Dent and Andrew Jackson were three of 10 Atlanta Falcon rookies who spent the better part of their off day going room to room at Children's Healthcare. "It's one of the things that pushes me, these kids may never be able to play football," Jones said. "When I have a little nick or pain, I remember what they go through."
Right tackle James Carpenter looked good. He drove the Falcons' John Abraham across the formation on one play, then landed on him the way offensive linemen love to do when imposing their physical dominance on defenders. Carpenter sometimes looked like the Seahawks' best tackle in this game.
The New Orleans Saints had the biggest disparity in carries between tailbacks Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas last Sunday at Jacksonville, with Ingram carrying the ball 17 times for 55 yards and Thomas six times for 36 yards. Ingram now has almost twice as many carries as Thomas this year (53 to 27). But Saints Coach Sean Payton insisted that the rookie is not being featured by design. "I think some of it is just how it unfolded," Payton said. "There was a point in that second or third quarter where I said to Bret (Ingalls), 'Let's make sure I'm getting Pierre (Thomas) in there.' There's no exact science to the rotation. I do think the important thing is giving these guys the chance to get into a rhythm too. But it's something that's a challenge and there wasn't anything specific. "Take out the goal-line snaps and short yardage and you're really talking about four or five snaps there. A lot of it is just how the game unfolded and the personnel groups we were in."