The latest BlogPoll Roundtable is up over at Burnt Orange Nation, and I thought I'd take a stab at this one.
1. Handicap your team's chances to win your conference championship. If your team is not the favorite, who is?
Right now LSU is the favorite, but Florida is looking like they could contend again this year. As for the Tide, well, I suppose it's possible we could make it to Atlanta, and even win, but not very likely. To begin with, either LSU will have to stumble badly, putting the Tide in the driver's seat in the west, but since they probably won't we'd have to upset LSU in Tuscaloosa, something a lot of people that aren't me seem to think is possible. While there is a definite chance that LSU could choke one away in a high profile game, on paper, we've just got too many problems to overcome to take down such a frighteningly talented team. And even if we do manage the upset and run the schedule, there's the SEC Championship game to deal with. Florida is looking like the team to beat in the East again, and I'm already happy they aren't on the schedule during the regular season. For us to just reach Atlanta, much less come out with a conference title, we'd have to play near perfect football for the rest of the season, and at least one game is going to get away from us.
2. Outline the (realistic) best case and worst case scenarios for your team.
Best Case: We have a realistic shot at finishing 11-1 with a berth in a New Year's bowl like the Capital One, but that's kind of an outside shot. The new staff has given all of us enough hope that the Tide will go out and play a solid 60 minutes of football every Saturday, no matter who they're playing, but, like I said, we're going to let (at least) one get away from us at some point, and a 9-3 finish is entirely possible.
Worst Case: We've survived the first three contests of an exceptionally brutal September, but Georgia and Florida State loom large over the next two weeks, while rivalry games against Tennessee and Auburn and a respectable Houston team for homecoming give the Tide plenty of chances to falter in bewildering fashion. 7-5 would probably be the worst that could happen, with losses to UGA, FSU, UT, LSU, and Auburn, but that's incredibly unlikely.
3. We're only three games in to the season, but teams and storylines are starting to take shape. Compare your team to a character or theme from a fable or children's tale.
I'm not too up on my children's tales, and back in the third grade I was already making my teachers simultaneously proud of and worried by my sudden interest in the writing of Stephen King, so even though it's not really a fable or children's tale, I'll say we're Peter from The Eyes of the Dragon, a noble prince robbed of his station after the scheming of the evil Flagg (or, in our case, the NCAA) allowed his petulent and incapable little brother Thomas (or, in our case, Auburn) to ascend to the throne. Peter, of course, regains his birthright, and all ends well, just like Alabama is currently on pace to regain it's status as an SEC power while Auburn struggles in spectacular fashion.
|My parents let me read Stephen King books and listen to Guns 'n Roses before I was even ten years old. It's no wonder I'm the happy, well adjusted model citizen I am today!|
4. Imagine you're the coach of your team. Give three specific changes you'd implement immediately which you think would have the biggest impact on improving the team.
I'm clearly talking out of my ass here since, save the depth problems on defense, there's not a whole lot I could change on this team that I really think won't be fixed by more game time and experience. But, that's not an answer, so here are a few things I've thought about so far:
1. I'd get Jimmy Johns a little more involved. I've said plenty of times on this blog that he could be a perfect storm of athleticism for us, but he's virtually disappeared from the offense. I'd line him and Grant both up in split/two back formations, and use him more as an h-back since we know he can catch the ball out of the backfield. We saw some of that in the opener, but he's been silent ever since.
2. Run more plays from the shotgun. I complained last year that Wilson needed to be in the shotgun more so he can make his reads without worrying about the drops and to also make what would likely be an unblocked rusher run an extra yard or two before they can sack him, and with the couple of sacks that have come because he held onto the ball too long, it seems like he still needs that.
3. Why isn't Grant being used in the passing game more? Get the kid the ball out in space on a slip screen or something and watch him go. He's just not big enough to run between the tackles regularly.
5. USC, LSU/Florida, and Oklahoma have established themselves as the frontrunners in the early going. Which other team or teams are you eyeballing as potential BCS party crashers?
If by party crasher you mean "who will be this year's Boise?" then no one, really. The shine is off of Hawaii after their near loss to La. Tech, and all the other hyped mid-majors have faltered, so it looks like the BCS will be a BCS League Members Only affair once again. As far as who is going to pee in the punch bowl of the BCS system this year, Penn State and West Virginia both have good chances at being BCS teams with perfect records that still get left out of the title game, plus all three of the teams mentioned in the question could also go undefeated, leaving 5 perfect teams with only two spaces in the championship game available.