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Random Thoughts

This is a bit of a blurb post here of a lot of smaller topics. Nothing overly in-depth on anything, per se, just a few quick-hitters of some things that have stood out to me lately:

  • What if I were to tell you that the offense moved the ball significantly better against South Carolina than against either Ole Miss or Kentucky, and almost as well as we did against Arkansas? Crazy, right? Except that it's true. We averaged 6.13 yards per play against South Carolina, which is significantly higher than against either Kentucky (5.17) or Ole Miss (4.65), and all of one foot per play less than we averaged against Arkansas (6.53). Again, as I said in the Initial Impressions piece, South Carolina really didn't stop us. We moved the ball all night long, but thanks to turnovers, missed kicks, and inefficiencies in the red zone, we left a ton of points on the board.
  • The real problem with the relative lack of offensive yardage production against South Carolina was that the game was so short. We only had 58 offensive snaps against the 'Cocks, and that is by far the fewest we have gotten in a single game to date. In the first six games we averaged over 70 snaps per game, but again saw only 58 snaps against South Carolina. Simple reality... fewer snaps equals fewer chances to gain yards.
  • Random note... in the approximately 90 passing attempts since McElroy's 80-yard touchdown strike to Marquis Maze in the Arkansas game, our longest passing play from scrimmage has been only 27 yards, and to the best of my knowledge only four of those passes have gone for longer than 20 yards. In other words, what it tells you is that we have basically no explosiveness in our passing game at this point.
  • Why no explosiveness? A lot of it has to do with the simple reality that McElroy has really struggled to get the football to our wide receivers. It's not just that he cannot get it to Julio on a consistent basis, the rest of the receiver corps isn't getting much either. Only 8 of the 16 completions against Ole Miss went to receivers, only 5 of the 15 completions against Kentucky went to receivers, and against South Carolina the entire receiving corps combined for a grand total of two catches (and one of those was after Maze ripped away the interception from the South Carolina DB). And that's a problem when you're talking about explosive plays in the passing game. Don't get me wrong, it's great that we have quality receiving options at tailback and tight end, but there's only so many explosive plays you can get by throwing the football to a lumbering, 260 pound tight end, or dumping it off to a back out of the backfield. At some point, you're going to have to be able to throw the football down the field to your wide receivers to generate some explosive plays. 
  • Teams have really changed how they play our screen game. Kentucky smoked any screen we threw at them, and it hasn't really worked well since. Notice in the South Carolina game that we changed up the routes for our backs... less screens and dump-offs, and more swing passes out of the backfield and various other routes.
  • Mark Ingram looks great, admittedly, and he should be the front-runner for the Heisman. But if you legitimately think we're going to be able to ride him down the stretch like we did against South Carolina, you've lost your damn mind. Playing tailback is without doubt the single most physically punishing position in all of major professional / collegiate sports, and if we are forced to keep riding him like we did against the Gamecocks, he won't last for long before you see a fairly serious injury or a decline in production. I love me some Ingram -- don't you just love how many legitimate man-crushes you can find on the roster now? -- but let's be realistic here... if there's anything underneath that #22 jersey, it doesn't say "Superman" on it, it likely says "I'm human, get me some help out here!"
  • And speaking of Ingram, what about the Heisman? I figure he's probably got as good of a chance at winning it as anyone now, but I still doubt he does. He's a sophomore, and there's always a big handicap against the underclassmen, and honestly probably either Tebow or McCoy will go nuts over the second half and win it. My question, though, is do you really even want him to win it? I don't know... I'm torn. On the one hand, I truly loathe the concept of individual awards in the most team-oriented sport known to man, and I've really never had any true desire to see an Alabama player win it. On the other hand, winning it would be a big deal for Ingram and a boost for his career, and I always want to see the 'Bama players do the best they can for themselves, so I'm torn on the subject. I guess I won't complain either way.
  • Steve Spurrier's whining is ungodly annoying. I mean, we get it Steve, you hate 'Bama, figured that one out a long time ago. Big whoop. You play in another division, and we play you about as often as we play directional Louisiana (and for that matter they've beaten us more often than you have the past ten years). Furthermore, you haven't been relevant in any form of football since circa 2001, and truth be told you will probably never be particularly relevant again. With all that in mind, do you really not have anything better to do than piss and moan about us putting a piece of tape down for a kicker on a chip-shot field goal and playing Hell's Bells on third downs? Even if the latter is a rule violation -- and I'm not sure that it is -- what do you care? The only way you'll ever get back into Bryant-Denny is if you buy a ticket from one of the scalpers outside the gates. Again, I know you hate us, but let it go, Steve, just let it go.
  • Is McElroy healthy? Remember the injury he had in the Arkansas game that the CBS announcers dubbed a "hip flexor"? Those hurt like hell, and issues from that could explain his mechanics going into the dumpster. Maybe not, mind you, and honestly probably not, but Kleph mentioned it to me the other day, and it's at least something to keep in mind.
  • Redshirt freshman tight end Michael Williams has really played a lot this year, and from what I can tell he has played well too. But, of course, it has gotten zero publicity in the traditional media. It just goes to show you that unless you are a name player coming into the year, or making a lot of flashy plays like touchdown catches and sacks, you can pretty much be in the Witness Protection Program and still play for a big-time SEC program without anyone noticing you. He'll do something later and people will be like, "Wow! He came out of nowhere!" Not really...
  • Damien Square goes into that same boat. If he comes back 100% next year he'll wow everyone and it will be nothing but shock. Again, shouldn't be the case.
  • A thought... how many SEC teams would Chris Rogers start on? He's a special teams standout, and plays solid football every time he actually gets in on defense, but even so he rarely ever plays. Based on an admittedly small sample size, I'd say there at least three or four SEC teams that he could start on.
  • I vehemently oppose granting Tennessee's request to wear orange jerseys this Saturday. Why? First and foremost, there's no reason to hurt people's eyes by forcing them to watch that much puke orange... you're already punishing them enough by making them watch Tennessee. And second, and more importantly, why in the hell should we cooperate with them on anything? The mere fact that they want to do it is enough for me to immediately reject the move. I wouldn't even give them the satisfaction of agreeing with them, even over something so fickle, and quite frankly the only request on Tennessee's behalf that I would honor is if they just decided to blow up that whole campus and needed us to give one plunge on the detonator. I don't even agree that we should fund Homeland Security projects for Knoxville, there is no way in hell I would agree to allow them to wear even more puke orange in our stadium.
  • And Lane Kiffin, you don't care one damn bit about this rivalry's history, and if you were given a pop quiz on major occurrences in this rivalry, you'd probably fail it. And don't think that I -- or anyone else with a brain -- am too dumb to figure that out.