Happy Monday, everyone. OK, it may not be the happiest Monday where football is concerned, but it is what it is. Alabama is now ranked #9 in the polls that don’t matter. Florida is #7 and projected ahead of the Tide in the bowl pecking order, which is as laugh out loud worthy as anything you’ll see today.
Oh, well. May as well wrap up the Iron Bowl. Let’s kick off the morning with a good laugh at some idiots, shall we?
This probably seemed like a decent shortcut at the time pic.twitter.com/62yabdgKtB— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 1, 2019
So, to recap, when Alabama beats Auburn it’s treated like popping another pimple. When Auburn barely beats an Alabama team without its starting QB among several key starters, on pure luck mind you, they lose their minds and get stuck while destroying their own shrubbery. That tells you all you need to know about the mentality of the respective fanbases.
Seriously, what is it with these people and plants? They slowly kill those oak trees every time they roll them, too. What a weird cult.
Michael Casagrande has a few extra notes on the game.
-- An under-rated play was the 37-yard punt return by Christian Tutt. It looked like Alabama had good coverage but Tutt found a crease to set up a three-play, 32-yard touchdown drive aided by a facemask flag. Auburn’s rushing offense got the edge on two of the three plays including the touchdown from Nix. As pointed out on the SEC Network on Sunday morning, the TD run saw two Alabama freshmen -- Byron Young and Christian Harris -- caught in the same gap, leaving the outside line wide open for the walk-in score.
-- One of the tricks Alabama pulled was a double reverse that almost went for a big play. Tight end Major Tennison missed the block to spring Henry Ruggs on a play that gained just five yards to open the second quarter.
-- Two Auburn passes were nearly intercepted on plays by Anfernee Jennings and later Trevon Diggs.
Yep. A phantom facemask, two forced fumbles that rolled out of bounds, two dropped interceptions. Just another day in Jordan Hare.
By the way, you know that “unfair play” quote from Saban that folks are having fun with? Check this out, directly from the rule book:
ARTICLE 2. a. No player shall conceal the ball in or beneath his clothing or equipment or substitute any other article for the ball. b. No simulated replacements or substitutions may be used to confuse opponents. No tactic associated with substitutes or the substitution process may be used to confuse opponents (Rule 3-5-2-e) (A.R. 9-2-2-I-V).
So, the rule in question falls under “unfair tactics.” You can decide whether sending the punter into the game and lining him up at a position other than punter is a “tactic associated with substitutions used to confuse opponents,” but Saban used the proper terminology when he argued that it was “unfair.” In fact, that word appears more than 20 times in the rulebook.
While that play didn’t cost Alabama the game since one can’t know that they would have driven the field in a minute with no timeouts anyway, the blind pick six did. If you recall, on the play before, an Auburn defender had bear hugged Jahleel Billingsley in the end zone because he was beat inside, a tactic for which Malzahn’s teams are infamous.
Well, looky here.
Deliberately teaching players to violate the rules is indefensible. The coaching of intentional holding, beating the ball, illegal shifting, feigning injury, interference, illegal forward passing or intentional roughing will break down rather than aid in the building of the character of players. Such instruction is not only unfair to one’s opponent but is demoralizing to the players entrusted to a coach’s care and has no place in a game that is an integral part of an educational program
Emphasis mine. It shouldn’t have to be said that intentionally violating the rules to win a game is unethical but “just grab them if you’re beat since it’s only 15 yards in college” is far too widely accepted by fans. It is a bush league tactic and the reason that the NFL went to spot fouls on pass interference. Frankly, sometimes that isn’t even enough if there is no defender deeper than the intended receiver.
You can bet that it will come up in the film room how well that worked out, because Gus is a con artist who would rather skirt rules than develop players. That has always been his M.O. and it’s the reason that he and Auburn are a match made in hell.
Moving on, the dynasty is so dead, y’all.
The greatest defensive coach in the history of the sport has seen his team give up 34, 44, 46 and 48 points in its last four games against Top 20 opponents. The first total was to Oklahoma in the playoff semifinals last season, and the second was to Clemson in the final. The other two are this season. To date this Alabama defense is giving up 18.8 points per game, the most since Saban’s first year at the school in 2007.
We have definitely seen a change in team philosophy to a more wide open attack that takes advantage of the college rules which beg you to score a million points, and a trend toward lighter defenders up front to keep up with the pace. Hopefully the youngsters will be better after a spring and fall camp together.
Cecil, as usual, has the more measured take.
The past two seasons have been highly pleasurable to watch if you love offense, but in a program that is built on hardware, not highlights, the discipline, the attention to detail, the accountability needs to be restored. The will was there on Saturday. If Alabama wanted a moral victory, it could point to a 60-minute effort with an inexperienced quarterback against a vaunted defense.
Moral victories don’t play in Tuscaloosa.
They carry no weight.
Saban is a giant in coaching. He will surely make the necessary moves, whether that means philosophy or staffing.
This was not a happy movie, this 2019 season. The one thing that would be worse would be a sequel.
Penalties have been perhaps the biggest issue this season. While you’d prefer to avoid them altogether, penalties that occur while trying to make a play are far less infuriating than personal fouls and pre-snap procedural stuff. That will most certainly be a point of emphasis.
Last, we may as well laugh at ourselves too. Watch to the end.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.