That plays into what Alabama coach Nick Saban said on Wednesday: that when his team has lost in recent seasons, it has been because of its own mistakes. His players must realize that any team in the SEC has ability and prepare accordingly. "We have a standard that we should be wanting to play to individually and collectively as a team," Saban said. "And every week we should be working to elevate that standard and improve as a team in terms of how we prepare, how we practice and how we actually go out and perform in the games. Who you are playing really shouldn't affect that."
"I had seen them on TV and on tape, but I was down on the field before they played Arkansas," said one NFL team's chief talent evaluator. "They really look like an NFL team. You hear people say that, but with them it's true. That defense is huge, bigger than most NFL teams. Not just the linemen, but the cornerbacks, the linebackers, the safeties. And they can all run. That secondary. ... it's the best secondary I've ever seen in college football."
"He’s a guy that loves the gun, enjoys the gun, feels like he’s a better player from the gun," said Ole Miss offensive coordinator David Lee. "I am concerned about it." Why? Because Alabama does such a great job of shifting defenses, and they’ll exploit the second where Mackey is looking down and at the ball. "That’s when they are going to move on him," Lee said. "It happened today. He got caught today, in a situation in which he should have been throwing one place but he had to look and when he got the ball, the look had changed. But he didn’t have time to find the look and get the ball in the right place. It’s a concern."
"Tackle the ball-carrier," coach Houston Nutt said. "Tackle No. 3. Gather around the ball-carrier. They’ve gashed everybody. They have moved the football where it has been the quarterback’s best friend, where he can just turn it around and hand it at leisure to that back."
Judging by the fact that it pitched a shutout, Alabama obviously played tremendous defense against Vanderbilt. The Tide yielded only eight first downs in the affair and 190 total yards, including a mere 41 rushing yards. "We try to shut our offense out in practice every day, so when we shut somebody out, we're kind of pleased with ourselves," said Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson after the victory. "But the way we executed today wasn't our best, so we're going to come back and work hard."
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said it's not rocket science to figure out who to play at quarterback.
Randall Mackey is Ole Miss' starter going forward, and he's the third different quarterback to start for the Rebels this season.
"It's just a gut feeling," Nutt said. "You've got tohave that guy who puts your team in the end zone, and that's what you go by.'
Junior tight end Michael Williams echoed his coach’s thoughts. Williams said his team has been practicing with increased speed this week to avoid another cold open. "I mean, you have to start fast, and that’s what we try to do," Williams said. "And the last couple games, it hasn’t happened, so in practice, we just do a lot of hurry up just to make us go faster… We can’t have a sluggish start, so we try not to do that in practice."
QB Randall Mackey started at Fresno State, becoming the third quarterback to start for Ole Miss this year. Mackey looks like he may be the answer. Not only did the Rebels beat Fresno State, they showed a new versatility for what had been a struggling offense. If RB Brandon Bolden is back healthy at running back, the Rebels could be deceptively strong on offense, if only because their previous results inspired very little. One of the hallmarks of the Ole Miss defense thus far has been its ability to intercept passes. It has eight in just five games, ranking it fourth in the SEC and 13th in the country. Last year, the Rebels picked off just six passes all year. The Rebels' personnel overhaul in their secondary has paid off and will be a concern for future opponents.
"I think the biggest thing is he does a tremendous job with getting good players. You look at LSU, and you look at Alabama, two great programs. But the thing that he's done he's been able to recruit at a very high level. Then defensively is where you see his head, where you see his personality the toughness, the aggressiveness. Then he'll mix some things up on you. It won't be the same thing. ...It's a lot of good mixture with the fronts and the secondary. And then the blitz package. The blitz package and the different zone pressures heat things up making you play a little faster than you want, things like that I think that's the biggest thing."
Georgia's Mark Richt became the 14th coach to win 100 games in the SEC last week. Ole Miss' Houston Nutt could become the 15th this week. Except Nutt's Rebels are 26-point underdogs to No. 2 Alabama on Saturday. If the teams play to form on Saturday, the Crimson Tide's Nick Saban will pick up his 98th victory in the SEC -- 50 at Alabama and 48 at LSU -- setting up a race to 100 between the two veteran coaches.
As blockers, tight ends can be anonymous to the casual fan on running plays, much as offensive linemen can be. But as pass catchers, they enjoy a few moments of glory that linemen never do. "You could say we are (in the club), but we feel like we're more than that. To a lot of people, yes, we are," said tight end Michael Williams. "(Blocking is) what we do around here." Part of the dynamic in the society of offensive linemen is that they actually revel in their anonymity. Their contribution to the team can hardly be overstated, but their absence of showmanship is worn like something of a badge. Noticed more as a unit than as individuals, one of the only times a single lineman draws on-field attention is when he is penalized. Not surprisingly, then, the group tends to stick together. "I think the tight ends have their own club. That's no offense to them. I don't think they'd want to be a part of our club," said UA tackle Barrett Jones. "They think they're too athletic for us, kind of too cool."
"Uh, well, I'm worried about Florida and us improving," Muschamp said this morning on the Southeastern Conference coaches' weekly teleconference. "But they're both very similar football teams as far as the strength on both lines of scrimmage. "They both really run the ball. They both play with a physical style, on offense and defense. They both cover well. It ought to be a heck of a football game whenever those guys play, but again, I'm concerned about the Gators getting better at this point. But again they both have good football teams."
Saban said Monday it was his decision not to make McCarron available for more interviews despite requests. He was asked to clarify his policy Wednesday. "I'm really concerned with what I think is best for our players at this point in time," Saban said. "AJ has done a really good job of being able to stay focused on what he needs to do to prepare for games. I just feel like one of these days it will be fine for him to speak publicly."
Best decisions? How about Saban breaking character and throwing in a coupe of diversionary tactics? The converted fake punt at Penn State? It worked despite poor execution? The 54-yard field goal attempt that shifted to a touchdown pass from AJ McCarron to Michael Williams against Arkansas? Genius. Makes you wonder what Saban has in store for The Hat on Nov. 5?
The Alabama football team heads to its locker room for perhaps the most important 20 minutes of the night. This is a time for refreshments for the players, too. "We get a Gatorade when we walk in," senior center William Vlachos said. "We get a little snack, like a Rice Krispies treat or something, if you want it." This also is a time for recuperation. Senior tight end Brad Smelley, for instance, spent halftime Saturday night in the trainer's room because of a bruised thigh muscle. But this is no time for rest and relaxation. "Nobody's resting about anything," Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday.
Miles conceded, however, that a coach is wise to worry about messing with a good thing, particularly when your team is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country. "If you're trying to make a discerning decision about playing your best players, I think you'll always worry about it," he said. "A guy that's paid the tremendous price that Jarrett Lee has to play for our football team, he doesn't begrudge what would be maybe an advantage and a strategy just as long as we use him fully."
So to be "Heisman good" really means to be the most highly talked about guy in the game playing for a winning football team. So, sorry Trent, but unless Russell Wilson or Andrew Luck both decide to quit footballin' tomorrow, you're not going to win the Heisman. The Doak Walker award is undeniably yours to lose, though, so there's that.
There are 13 undefeated teams in the F.B.S., two of which play on the non-B.C.S. conference level – Boise State and Houston. The other 11, those that control their own destiny, for better or for worse, might try to avoid the damning defeat that could send them from the B.C.S. title game to the Fiesta Bowl, if not lower. Let’s take a peek at the lucky baker’s dozen, looking at each team’s road to perfection and the big games to watch.
The team will create a monster pot of gumbo, using a 300-year-old cast iron pot from the sugar cane fields of South Louisiana. The World's Largest Gumbo recipe calls for 750 pounds shrimp, 450 pounds catfish fillets, 100 pounds claw crabmeat, 50 pounds white crabmeat, 200 pounds alligator meat, 25 pounds Louisiana crawfish tail meat, 200 pounds diced onions, 75 pounds diced celery, 100 pounds diced green bell pepper, 150 pounds sliced okra, 50 pounds dehydrated garlic and 20 pounds butter.
You're so over Alabama. And you used to like LSU back when everybody thought they were a little too weird, but now that everybody's come around on them, it's just not fun for you anymore. And Oklahoma? Please. It stopped being cool to like them a couple of years ago, man.
A short-handed Tennessee team takes on the top two teams in the nation on consecutive weeks. But things could be worse. Really.