Happy Monday, everyone. Mondays are always better after Alabama wins big on Saturdays, aren't they? Plenty of commentary about the Tide this morning. Apparently the narrative surrounding the team this week will be that they are once again national title contenders and maybe this "dynasty" that the media likes to bloviate about isn't dead after all. Meanwhile, Saban is trying to get the players not to read or listen to any of the noise and simply focus on practice.
Interestingly, Saban mentioned in the press conference after the game (full video at the bottom) that he got "pissed" when the players were jumping around and woofing at the UGA players before the game, concerned that they would get too hyped up and lose focus of the game plan, something he lamented after the Ole Miss loss. Contrast this with Mark Richt, who seems to encourage players to feed off of emotion (see: dancing in the Florida end zone a few years back), and you might have a key reason for the difference in consistency between the two programs over the years. Well, that and recruiting. In any event, what a performance by the Tide. Let's get to it:
But against Georgia on Saturday, Alabama looked the part of a national title contender. A rain-soaked first quarter ended in a 3–3 tie before Tide running back Derrick Henry scampered 30 yards for a touchdown with 8:26 left in the half. Two series later defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked Georgia punter Collin Barber’s boot, snatched up the ball and carried it into the end zone. The Bulldogs went three and out on their next possession before Alabama quarterback Jake Coker found receiver Calvin Ridley for a 45-yard score on the Tide’s next play from scrimmage. Just like that, Alabama headed into halftime up 24–3. Things didn’t get easier for the Dawgs in the second half. Safety Eddie Jackson picked off Georgia backup quarterback Brice Ramsey—in for the struggling Greyson Lambert—and took the interception 50 yards to the house, silencing any true hope of a comeback.
Saban likes to keep things close to vest, but his words after the game were striking. He made it a point to say "I believe in this team" in his postgame press conference. He delivered a similar message to his team in the locker room right after the big win. He even got "a little emotional" talking to his players.
"He was pretty happy," said Alabama quarterback Jake Coker. "It was a special moment. He almost got a little emotional, I guess. He said he was."
Truly a dominant performance by the Tide. Saban specifically mentioned the fact that the team scored in all three phases of the game, something he was especially proud to see.
During his radio show Thursday, Tide coach Nick Saban talked about wanting to get back to the old days of Alabama football -- running the ball and hitting teams over the top with play-action passes. A combination of the weather and getting a big lead helped the Tide return to its roots in a way. Even when Georgia put eight or nine men in the box, Alabama stuck with its game plan and continued to run the ball.
Hmm, seems that I've read about this concept somewhere. It's almost like this is what the team is built to do. Kiffin was noticeably fired up on the sideline, particularly when one of my all-time favorite goal-line plays, the naked boot, worked for the score. I fully expect to see more of the offense we saw on Saturday for the rest of the season.
Pollin', pollin', pollin'...
The Crimson Tide (4-1) moved into the top 10 of both the Associated Press and Amway coaches polls after defeating Georgia 38-10 at Sanford Stadium on Saturday. It entered the game No. 13 in both polls, but moved up to No. 8 in AP and No. 10 in coaches.
A road trip to Texas A&M in two weeks, Leonard Fournette's LSU and the Iron Bowl await, plus whatever the SEC East might cough up (then again, hey, Florida beat Ole Miss). None of that's easy, but in a season in which every team has looked flawed and/or untested, the recently 2-1 Tide feel like the safest bet, all over again.
After beating Georgia 38-10, the Tide is No. 1 in two of those ratings. It tops the Sagarin and Massey rankings. The Billingsley rating isn't quite as favorable as Alabama moved up from No. 10 to No. 7. The Colley Matrix is less flattering as the Tide checks in at No. 21. Northwestern earned the top-rating.
Some folks seemed to be perturbed by the Tide's ranking in the coaches' poll, but it really makes no difference at this point. The Tide still has games against highly ranked teams Texas A&M and LSU and will very likely end up in Atlanta with another tough matchup should they manage to navigate the balance of the schedule unscathed. There is little doubt that the committee would take Alabama in that case.
Other fun stuff:
What we thought we knew: Alabama's dynasty is over. Reality: The Crimson Tide are going to be fine -- and they probably won't be picked as an underdog by Las Vegas oddsmakers again anytime soon. After Alabama lost to Ole Miss 43-37 at home two weeks ago, we thought we saw cracks in the foundation of Nick Saban's program. But then the No. 13 Crimson Tide steamrolled No. 8 Georgia 38-10 at rain-soaked Sanford Stadium, a victory so convincing they once again looked like one of the top four teams in the country.
Oh, look, we get to create a new story-line again. How fun!
Running back DeSherrius Flowers (Jones County Junior College): Flowers ran for six yards on five carries and caught two passes for 17 yards during a 49-7 loss to East Mississippi Community College.
Included the first one just so our own Slice of Life could shed a cheer in his morning bowl of oatmeal. Hopefully Flowers gets his academic stuff worked out and returns to the team next year. He was the heir apparent to the Kenyan Drake role in the spring.
This spread seems about right in Tuscaloosa, but the team will have to play to its potential to reach it. As Saban says below, the next step for this team is consistency.
Full Post-Game Press Conference:
That's about it for today. Have a good week, everyone.