Happy Birthday Coach! It's very fitting our Dark Lord was born on Halloween.
The bye week comes at the perfect time for top-ranked Alabama. The scoring margin the past six weeks, 246-26, has made it look easy. But the games have demanded their own pound of flesh, the toll evidenced in every wince and limp.
"I'm not thinking about that (LSU) right now," quarterback AJ McCarron said Saturday in his usual no-nonsense manner, mimicking his head coach. "We've got a 24-hour rule and then a week off so I'm not really thinking about who we got next."
Said Saban: "We've got some big challenges and some stiff competition against some teams coming up here. This bye week comes at a pretty good time for us. We have a lot of guys banged up. We could use the rest, and we can use the time to try to help some of our players improve. So that's going to be our focus this week."
But in Alabama's camp, that's not the focus yet. At least not externally. "In the SEC you bang hard every week, so you need time to rest up," Belue explained to reporters on Saturday night. "Then we have LSU, and they're going to come in and bang some more."
We have a lot of guys who seem to have a good bit of nagging injuries and hopefully they can heal up over the next week and half. LSU is dealing with their own string of injuries and both teams seemed to be looking forward to the week off.
And just like that, Auburn is ranked the No. 2 team in the SEC. Just like we all expected at the beginning of the year, right? Oh, and Alabama is the only unanimous team on this week's blog at any position on this week's poll, which is the surest sign yet that the season no longer makes any sense.
Good grief...When Auburn is the 2nd best team in the SEC, a year after only winning three games all year, you know the league as a whole is struggling. That's not to say Auburn isn't a good football team but there is no reason they should be #2 at this point.
Oh, wait, yes there is...UGA, USC, UF, A&M and to a certain extent LSU have all taken rather large steps backwards this year...Agree with it or not, this is a down year for the SEC.
"I think he's played really, really well this year so far," Saban said on Wednesday's SEC teleconference. "They've got a very, very talented offense. Balance. They can run it, throw it. They've got big-play guys. "He's the guy that makes it all happen based on how he executes what they do. He's probably playing as well as any quarterback in our league."
This will be the first team we've faced all year that has the ability to attack us in both the running and passing game. LSU has a balanced offense, a good offensive line, good skill players, a great stable of running backs and one of the best QB's in the league. A&M for all its greatness and outside of Manziel's scrambles, didn't really use their running game until late in the 2nd half.
If 2012 taught us anything, it's you don't look past LSU, not even for a second.
There have been suspensions, key injuries and the untimely distraction of an investigation into whether a former player received impermissible benefits that became public the week of the key Southeastern Conference West showdown with Texas A&M.
Through all of that "clutter," as he calls it, and there's been plenty, Saban kept his team focused and, through eight games, still No. 1 and unbeaten. "I don't think some of the things that you all think are distractions that you like to keep a tally of and think that's the only thing that's important really is the issue," Saban said of the rash of suspensions this season.
IF (ALL CAPS) Saban and Alabama win a third straight title, with all the issues this team has had since training camp began, this season has to go down as his best coaching job to date. I'm not even sure there's an argument to be made here..
Starting cornerback Deion Belue was not out there for a second straight day. Coach Nick Saban said he was held out of Tuesday's practice for precautionary reasons. His turf toe from Texas A&M continues to pop up and cause issues. -- Fellow cornerback Bradley Sylve was going through the drills, but he was moving gingerly on his strained left ankle. He did not appear to be making any cuts on the injured leg.
Sounds like we are NFL'ing Belue this season. I think the staff is confident enough in Deion's ability and understanding of the defense, that holding him to very little contact during the week is best for his recovery. I think they did the same to Lacy last year and it paid positive dividends by seasons end.
The 2nd cornerback situation is still a concerning one and with Sylve still nursing his ankle, I expect to see Cyrus get the start against LSU.
Rolando McClain doesn't know why, but he was angry. Very angry. The former Oakland Raider and Alabama star told ESPN The Magazine he had to walk away from football. "I felt like Aaron Hernandez, like I just wanted to kill somebody," McClain said in an interview for this week's ESPN The Magazine, which hits newsstands Friday.
"I think, psychologically, the grind of trying to get ready to play your best football every game becomes more and more challenging, especially when guys are trying to overcome more and more adversity, which may be their physical condition or just the fact that they’re getting sort of wore out as the season wears on, as well as the psychological impact of being able to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind so that you can improve in practice and continue to try and play your best."
"After I hit the first two blockers, I saw the quarterback tackle him, kind of grab his facemask, so that kind of amped me up even more so when I ran over there I tried to knock everybody off the pile," he said. "So I was pushing through people to get him up. I was just really in the zone on that play. "It’s always fun, especially when you make plays on defense like that."
I love C.J. and replacing him next season may be much harder than originally anticipated..
Discussion Question: Who do you think Alabama faces in the BCS title game between Oregon and FSU if all three teams win out? Why?