I think our defense is special this year. Even in our loss to Ole Miss, that side of the ball shined. Now the vaunted defense of the Alabama Crimson Tide faces the maddening run game of the Georgia Bulldogs.
Believe it or not, my thinking goes, a less talented defensive squad might have won that game two weeks ago. There are two plays that I have in mind: the fluke and the... there is no alliterative trick to bring in the fact that SEC refs have no interest in enforcing the illegal man down field rule. Ask LSU. They got hit by it too.
That our defense was somehow deficient in the Ole Miss game is an idea that needs to clear a few hurdles to be believed. They were on point.
We spotted the linemen beyond the three yards down field they are allowed for a legal pass play. A less aware defense would have stayed in pass coverage, but our guys are well coached. They broke coverage because a pass play was illegal. They spotted what the refs didn't. 73 yard TD for Ole Miss.
Will the defense get credit or blame for pressuring Chad Kelly, knocking him back as he stupidly tossed the ball up for grabs? Into double coverage? The ball bounced to an out of the play receiver with nothing but green for miles and miles. Hugh Freeze didn't dial that up. It was a miracle. 66 yard TD for Ole Miss.
Win the line of scrimmage Saturday and this Georgia game is over.
Deduct the two absurd plays and Ole Miss, a really great offensive team, was held to 294 yards. Yes I get that they did get the two plays, but one was illegal, and the other was so lucky as to be Auburnesque. Auburnensian even.
Going forward, no opponent should count on such nonsense, nor should they count on our players bouncing into one another and causing fumbles, miscommunicating on routes so badly that - no idea who to blame here, but it happened - an opposing defensive back had to stop following the play, literally stop moving, to pick up an easy interception.
We fumbled two kickoff returns.
Our defense got a raw deal and performed admirably. If I were Georgia, I'd be worried.
If we run between the tackles in our most jet-sweep avoiding manner, we kill this Georgia team. Slow it down. Eliminate the possibility of mistakes. Play action on occasion but mostly a respectful dose of RTDBL. And trust the D to smother them.
It should be noted that on the RBR masthead there are those that have far, far, superior knowledge of Xs and Os than I do. I write about food. As always, trust them. But surely they are saying RTDBL too.
Smothered Pork Chops, Southern Style
6 Thin Sliced Pork Chops
1 Onion, Sliced into Rounds
2 Cloves Garlic, Smashed
2 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Heaping tbsp. All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Dried Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
Salt to taste
Whatever cooking vessel you choose, it needs to be coverable. I like a Dutch Oven, but so long as your pan or dish can handle a quart of liquid, it'll work.
Remember those thin cut pork chops you look on with disdain at the butcher's aisle? This is where they come into their own. This is the home cook's version of the meat and three restaurant steam table chops. I'm tempted to say "But in a good way." But that depends on the meat and three steam table. This is just plain good.
Pour a couple of glugs of olive oil into the chosen coverable cooking vessel and over high heat, salt and brown the chops in batches, a minute at most per side. Set aside.
Turn heat down to medium. Toss the onion in and sauté until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the flour and stir for another 2 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, wine, thyme, and bay leaf. Turn up to high, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Return chops to the pan, bury them in liquid as best you can and cover. Cook for 20-30 minutes. Serve with huge spoonfuls of gravy.
I like them with greens. Saute a handful of Kale in some olive oil with a sliced shallot, a sliced clove of garlic, and a bit of red pepper flakes.
Pictured is the lazy man's mac n'cheese. And since I generally make the week's tailgate dish on a Monday or Tuesday, I'll admit to cutting corners. Sometimes your kid's homework/karate class/cub scout meeting will cut into to cooking time.
If you want to do it right, boil some salted water and cook some penne. Set aside.
Dice 6 oz. pancetta, sauté and set aside.
Pour a quart of milk in a sauce pan over with half a diced yellow onion, a bay leaf, a pinch of white pepper, and a dash of salt and simmer for 10 or so minutes. Strain and set the milk aside.
Melt 6 oz. butter in another sauce pan over low heat. Whisk in ½ cup flour, stirring and then doing the same with the set aside milk. Add a dash of Tabasco, 6 oz. shredded cheddar, and ¼ lb shredded Parmesan. Stir until smooth.
Add cooked pasta and pancetta and stir. Put in 9x13 dish, top with scant shredded provolone and bake at 400˚ until crisp, 8 - 10 minutes. No Mac n'Cheese is better. I mean that in a way that brooks no challengers. Try it.
This game has me nervous, as it should. Georgia has a great team. Set your mind right. Smother things.
Roll Tide, No injuries, and RTDBL.