By Shane from Centerpoint
Alabama head coach, Nick Saban, is on a mission to resuscitate a once legendary football program. The process continues this Saturday night when the â€œNictatorâ€ takes his traveling show to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The outcome of this gridiron war should provide Crimson Tide fans with a candid outlook on whether this season will be a stepping-stone in an attempt to regain national respect or a quick revival that says to college football, â€œBamaâ€™s backâ€.
Sabanâ€™s return to the Southeastern Conference last year was at best, a struggle. However, he has had another off-season and recruiting class to wipe away the stench of the pathetic attitude that permeated the Crimson Tide football program. With a very average transitional year behind him, Nick and his Tide are being presented with an opportunity to grab the spotlight when they face off with the 10th ranked Clemson Tigers.
Admittedly, the opening game of the season usually involves a multitude of mistakes. As a result, the team who makes the fewest mistakes will usually win the game. Alabamaâ€™s performance Saturday will serve as an excellent indicator pertaining to coach Sabanâ€™s ability to extract discipline, poise, and consistency from his players.
Most experts would agree that a quarterbackâ€™s performance is crucial to any offenseâ€™s continuity and overall success. Two big questions centered around that position will determine Alabamaâ€™s offensive success against Clemson: Have coach Saban and his quarterback guru, Jim McElwain, been able to re-program senior signal-caller, John Parker Wilson? Can J.P. eliminate those fatal errors and maintain his poise under fire in order to utilize Bamaâ€™s talented arsenal of weapons – which provide him with ample firepower and scoring potential. In fact, Wilsonâ€™s ability to maintain consistency will be the most important factor in determining Alabamaâ€™s offensive success against the Tigers.
Will the second edition of Nick Sabanâ€™s defense be good enough to keep pressure on Clemson quarterback, Cullen Harper – keeping him off balance and forcing him to turn the ball over? This yearâ€™s version of the Crimson Tide defense should be a better reflection of Sabanâ€™s philosophy. If the defense can confuse Clemsonâ€™s inexperienced offensive line early and limit their quarterback protection, the Tideâ€™s front seven should be able to disrupt Harperâ€™s rhythm and rattle him quickly. Regardless, Saban knows his defense must first prove it can shut down the tandem of Davis and Spiller – Clemsonâ€™s dynamic running backs. This game against Clemson features an abundance of talent on the Tiger offense. However, this second stanza of the complex â€œSabanizedâ€ defense should be better equipped to meet the coachâ€™s standards and create a dominant defensive personality.
Of course the gameâ€™s â€œwild cardâ€ is going to be which team has the better-coached special teams. Saban is a complete coach who preaches detail to the extreme and he pays close attention to every facet of footballâ€™s third phase as well. Both teams possess enormously talented return specialist, but Alabamaâ€™s Javier Arenas is a proven game-breaker. He could be a difference maker in any game.
This early season excursion to Atlanta is an excellent chance for the Crimson Tide to stomp a footprint on the minds of future opponents. A win by Alabama will only serve to enhance recruiting and perpetuate Sabanâ€™s process ahead of the expected pace. Is the Tide on the rise?
Anyway, here is my prediction for the final score: Crimson Tide 31, Tigers 21.