Talk about your understatement of the year...
But when one thinks of the “kicking game,” one naturally thinks first of the actual kickers. Not the deep snappers, unless they sail one. Not the holders, unless they fumble one. Not the protectors, unless they allow a rusher to block one. Not the rushers, also unless they block one…or rough the opposing kicker. Not the kickoff return blockers, until they block in the back, which is just about guaranteed to happen.
And in Alabama’s case through two games, there is dissatisfaction with the guys who put the foot into football. [emphasis added]
Saban said, “I thought we played really well in the kicking game the first game. I don’t think quite as well in the last game.”
He was talking about kickers -- placekickers Austin Jones and Joe Bulovas and punter Sky DeLong
The kicking game simply has not been up to snuff. It’s not a talent issue either. DeLong was reported to have a stronger leg than Scott — he has not shown that. Austin Jones was incredibly accurate at Temple — yeah, not happening so far. Joseph Bulovas has been the least shaky of the lot, and he was redshirted last year for his performance. Remember: The Tide have a dedicated special teams coach now.
What is it about Tuscaloosa under Nick Saban where kickers go to metaphorically die? For 25 years Alabama was known for its placekickers. The last dozen years it has been known for them too — but in the wrong direction.
Some would say it’s silly to harp on this when the Tide can name its score, but the Amen Corner of LSU - State - Auburn - SECCG - Playoffs comes quicker than you think.
If you think the College Football Playoffs are wide open, you’re dead wrong...
So goes the conclusion of Wharton data-crunchers. Even among elite teams already on the national scene, the oligarchs reign.
College football isn’t fair. Conference affiliation and politics do matter. While many think the SEC gets too much credit nationally, playing in the SEC can be just as big a disadvantage.
You don’t need to tell the Alabama secondary how good of a group the Ole Miss receivers are. The Rebels, with Alabama, vie for the best wide receiving group in the conference — likely the nation. And A.J. Brown is the best wide receiver in college football...for now.
“They have a trio of receivers, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge,” safety Deionte Thompson said. “These are three NFL-caliber guys. They stretch the field at any time, and they have a good quarterback to go along with that trio. So, that’s something we’re going to have to be prepared for. We’re going to have to do a very good job of preparing for them this week.”
Through two games, Brown, Metcalf and Braylon Sanders rank second, third and fifth in yards per game in the conference. Brown has caught a league-high 15 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns, while Metcalf has hauled in 11 receptions for 174 yards and two scores.
On the flipside of that equation, Ole Miss’ Matt Luke is under no delusions that containing this offense will be an easy chore. Especially Tua Tagovailoa.
“The ability for a young quarterback and the decision-making. They ask him to do some RPO stuff where he has to make some decisions. He’s got a really quick release. He has very good receivers to throw it to. Then, his ability to extend plays. You watch their first touchdown against Louisville. He extended the play and made a play with his feet. He keeps drives going on third down by scrambling out of the pocket. His ability to extend plays and obviously his decision-making has been good.”
There are some really good highlights of his presser above. He does not sound terribly optimistic, aside from canned coachspeak. As this is an Ole Miss recruiting weekend, it would be a good opportunity for Alabama to demoralize the Land Sharks out of the gate. Cheaters thus never prosper and all that.
The good news is, Ole Miss gave up 41 points and 600 yards to an FCS team. The Tide offense has been impressive, to say the least (stats here!) It could likely put a hundred points on the OM secondary if it wished. a 66-20ish game feels about right, doesn’t it?
Ready for another hell on earth game? For what seems to be the first time in living memory, CBS has passed on the Florida-Tennessee rivalry for its game of the week.
Nope. Not this year. This year we get to sit in 95-degree weather for four hours, on metal bleachers, with 100,000 other people, in a stadium notorious for its lack of breeze, while Gary sends you to the 47th Geico commercial break of the half.
Alabama-A&M is the 2:30 game on 9/22.
Sort of related, but man, how bad is Tennessee-Florida going to stink? How the mighty have fallen: the state of football in Florida is absolutely depressing right now. /Grinch grin.gif
The PAC 12 may be in even worse shape.
One-point-six seconds. What can you do in 1.6 seconds? (TWSS). I can’t even process that I put my hand on the stove burner. But, then again, I’m not Tua Tagovailoa.
From the snap to throw, approximately 1.6 football seconds is all Tua Tagovailoa needed. This was his second throw of Alabama’s 57-7 beating of Arkansas State and the first of his four touchdown passes.
Fantastic breakdown of Tua’s passing tendencies, which have used the middle of the field more than any Tide quarterback since A.J. McCarron. We’ve talked about arm strength off and on in the comments before. Jalen Hurts has the cannon on this team, while Tua has only thrown one “deep ball” all season, a 49-yard touchdown completion. It’s the mental speed of the game that sets him apart from other players, and it’s the complete physical package that makes him not just special, but unique.
Two weeks into the season, and some coaches off to a terrible start are already under the gun. The biggest immediate risk has to be Larry Fedora whose Tarheels got blown out against one of the worst teams in C-USA. Throw in a terrible offense, bad quarterbacking, and defenses that have always been iffy at best, and he likely doesn’t survive.
Looking locally, you have to believe that Barry Odom has to put up or shut up; having a potential No. 1 NFL draft pick at quarterback tends to raise expectations. Another implosion, and Derek Mason at Vanderbilt could also be gone. Even Vandy patience has its limits.
Poor Johnny Dwight, who had worked his way up the depth chart before being injured the week before the opener, has finally gotten back into practice. The same holds true for Jarez Parks, recently returned from Florida following a death in the family.
There is a concern about Mack Wilson’s foot, however.
-- Linebacker Mack Wilson had his right foot wrapped. He suffered a Jones fracture in that same foot last season.
Roger and I just had this identical fracture. While I only run if a bear is chasing me, Rog is a competitive runner. Any sort of competitive endeavors require surgery for a Jones fracture. They also are notoriously finicky injuries, tending to re-break. As OWB tells us every Friday, and I truly mean this, hope for the best. This linebacking group hasn’t exactly set the world on fire through two weeks. The last thing it needs is its defensive leader out for an extended period.
Slim pickings in the practice report, but it’s here via AL.
Finally, Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the Atlantic Coast with almost certain catastrophic fury. Wake-BC and WVU-UVA have already been canceled, and more are likely to be announced.
But that is trivial. Be safe folks, especially you guys and gals in the Carolinas and the DMV. Heed your evacuation warnings; they just may save your life. And if you need something, feel free to reach out to us. We’ve got a big ole’ Bammer tent here.