They low down, they dirty, they some snitches.
A good performance has to be followed by another, not admired in and of itself. It is a harsh reality. Alabama is good, very good, perhaps the best team in college football. Ask Ole Miss. But the sights of its fans now are set beyond "good," squarely on "great." And since Alabama can't prove greatness until Nov. 5 - and possibly even after that - the focus isn't on how good this team is, even when it dominates, but whether it can keep getting better.
After two games where they failed to even finish with positive rushing yards, the Vols needed some sort of positivity to build on with their stagnant running game. They got just that during the first half of Saturday's 38-7 loss to No. 1 LSU at Neyland Stadium. Boosted by a refreshed attitude, a strong effort from a hobbled senior and even a new quarterback, the Vols (3-3, 0-3 SEC) finished with 111 yards on 29 attempts. Thanks to a first-half kneel-down, their average yards per carry fell below 4, but opponents have certainly done worse against the Tigers (7-0, 4-0), who came into Saturday's game ranked fourth in the country in rush defense.
It's About Time. Against its most difficult opponent this season, UT's offensive line finally gave us a reason to hope all is not lost again. The Vols finished with 111 rushing yards -- and it would have been more had the team been closer in the second half. While that's not a terribly terrific number, it seemed like a million given the struggles UT had in the running game the rest of the year. Also, as I said, the Vols had to abandon it. On the flipside, Matt Simms wasn't hit very much at all, either, as the offensive line finally seemed to have a fire lit under them. After next week's house of horrors in Tuscaloosa, there is at least a reason to believe we can move the football on the ground for the rest of the season.
The Alabama football team has an obvious weakness, and that is pass defense. The Crimson Tide "only" is ranked fifth in the nation in that category. Everything is relative, of course. Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the other three key defensive categories: scoring defense (7 points per game), total defense (184.14 yards per game) and rushing defense (38.14).
If you're the type who annually roots for BCS chaos so there are systematic changes, pull for Wisconsin and Stanford to go undefeated. Then sit back and watch the heads of Jim Delany and Larry Scott explode. An undefeated Big Ten champion playing an undefeated Pac-12 champion at the Rose Bowl would be great for TV ratings. It's not so great for winning a national title. The Pac-12 and Big Ten strongly opposed SEC Commissioner Mike Slive's formal plus-one model in 2008 to seed a four-team playoff. In recent months, there have been reports that Big Ten and Pac-12 athletics directors, although still favoring the status quo, discussed a plus-one in which the Rose Bowl would still stage the annual Big Ten vs. Pac-12 game rather than being a semifinal host. So there's that small nugget to cling to if you're among the 2011 crop of unbeaten teams who got the news confirmed Sunday that every game doesn't count.
"Courtney did a really good job, played a really good game," Saban said. "He didn't play in the first quarter. ...We have internal rules and things we have in our program. Courtney's been a great ambassador and representative for the University of Alabama. He did a good job for tornado relief and raising money and did a great job. He made a poor judgement and part of what we decided to do was not start him in this game."