Thoughts on New Orleans, Sugar Bowl and the loss

Bama Clearly Out-Everythinged in Sugar Bowl
Notes on the Sugar Bowl from InTheKnow72

Long and Short of It
I didn’t hear the quote because, unfortunately, I was among the throngs of Alabama fans at the Superdome Friday night. But a friend told me that Barry Switzer summed the 2009 Sugar Bowl up on the broadcast in one sentence: “Alabama played like it wanted to be in the BCS Championship Game, and Utah played like it wanted to be in the Sugar Bowl.” Pure and simple, that was the case. Heck, IF Bama wanted to be there, I don’t know if it would have mattered. The Utah team I saw perched from my nosebleed seats executed its offense about as well as I’ve seen an Alabama opponent do so since the Louisiana Tech team led by Tim Rattay in 1999 at Legion Field. My bad seats only contributed to my agony, as even though they were bad, they were perfect for watching the big picture as plays developed before my eyes. I could see the mismatches; I could see the backside Ute linebackers beating pulling guards to the holes; I could see the utter confusion in our front five (because we couldn’t afford to have a front seven on the field at any time). In conclusion, we were outplayed, outdesired, and outexecuted.

Not Completely Outcoached
I’ll stop short of saying we were COMPLETELY outcoached, at least defensively. One of the marks against our pathetic basketball coach is that a team will go on a 15 point run before he’ll call a timeout to stop the bleeding. Well, our staff let the Utes go on a 21 point run before we got out of the zone package that created holes in our defense like Dig-Dug. Then we got in a some sort of hybrid of a man defense package that worked, but at that point the fork was already in us.

On offense we were outcoached, signed, sealed and delivered. Utah waited milliseconds before the ball was snapped to jump into another formation then blitz, and did so 1,532 times (my count). We never adjusted. Hey, can we go on three? Or how about first sound? That killed us as much as anything.

Offense? Please.
If you want me to make an excuse, here it is. No Andre meant one back up was playing on the line in his place. No Andre plus a hurt Mike Johnson in the first quarter (who later emerged from the locker room on crutches) meant two 2nd/3rd teamers playing 3/4 of the game, trying to establish a line of scrimmage that Utah made as hard to catch as a fart in a whirlwind. I realize neither Smith nor Johnson play defense and weren’t in charge of preventing any of the 31 points the Utes dropped on us. But our bread and butter is dominating the line of scrimmage, controlling the ball, and keeping the ball out of the hands of a high-powered offense across the field. We couldn’t, and so we didn’t.

Final Thoughts…
* Utah said we weren’t fast, and even said TCU was faster. Yep, I’d say they were right. We’re faster than most of the twelve teams we beat this year, but a team like Utah on artificial turf is like a perverted alcoholic on Bourbon Street. Too many toys from which to choose.

* Speaking of Bourbon Street, my goal for the rest of 2009 is to not come in contact with another drunk person this year. If I do so successfully, my average for the year will still be 22 per day. Drunk people act stupid, look stupid, and ARE stupid for letting themselves get in that condition publicly.

* The Superdome is an absolute dump. Legion Field is crying right now at the pass the Superdome has gotten. Football dignity has been taken away from the Old Gray Lady in Birmingham while the Old Tan Whore in New Orleans keeps getting propped open for business. Maybe it’s because the Georgia Dome and Bryant-Denny are so well kept, but going from those facilities to the Superdome is like jumping from a cool, crystal-clean pool into a dump truck full of pee. The ceiling has visual damage everywhere. The steps are too steep (if I saw one person fall, it was fifty…could’ve been the alcohol though). The escalators were made for 140 lb. people and weren’t running after the game. The ramp to the structure from the street created bottlenecks everywhere. There really doesn’t need to be 50 yards from the first row to the sidelines…and that’s just the beginning. The city of New Orleans should implode that piece of garbage in the middle of the night and blame it on Bin Laden…or better yet, as is so popular, Bush. At least then there would be a national outcry to build another one for the embattled city.

* The game atmosphere itself was atrocious. I swear, one hour before game time they actually had the 1991 Jock Jams CD playing. After “Pump Up The Volume” and “YMCA” rocked the house, I was simply amazed. The pregame pyrotechnics crew–which created something I could recreate if Crazy Bill’s were open tonight–were clearly clueless. They positioned and repositioned their gear five different times before settling on a spot…nice move in front of 70,000+. The AT&T commercials (and others) on the jumbo tron during the game killed any excitement the game might have created (for a Bama fan, anyway). My grandmother calling from an open window to ask if want cookies as I’m rounding second with my wife wouldn’t kill the mood any faster. I love that commercial with the mom fretting over not getting the call about the damaged dinosaur suit, but not when it’s 3rd and 11 and we’ve got to get this stop to stay in the game. Once again, the Sugar Bowl committee could learn volumes from the SEC folks, and even the ladies and gents who make it happen on game day in Tuscaloosa. I’m sure they’d be willing to help for some Christmas money.

* The game announcer sounded like a bad Regis Philbin impersonator. His voice was grating enough, but then he was just downright awkward, adding information as he just felt like it…I mean, as it came to him. As if YOU wandered down to your high school football stadium today, flipped the switch and just started talking. His delivery sounded like what you might hear at a Locust Fork vs. Corner high school football game (no offense to either school). But to quote Bill Walton, he was terrrrrrrrrrrrrible.

* The Utah fans themselves were a shocking delight. Maybe because SEC fans will cuss you, spit at you and hurl insults in your direction on-sight. And that’s just their children. I know some of you experienced otherwise…statistically you would have to. But overall, the ones I encountered were pretty incredible. Polite, well-mannered, and just happy to be there. They cheered for their team and not against ours. Yes, some did the Gator chomp before the game, but that one’s just too easy to pass up. Can you blame them?

* Utah’s band had 80 something players in it. From my seat at 30,000 feet, it looked pretty funny, especially taking the field after ours. Their uniforms were almost identical, so I’m surprised they didn’t pull the trick some softball teams do, asking the other team for a few players. If you play in a softball league, you get what I just said.

* The pre-game and halftime field festivities were honorable, just not spectacular. I was impressed that the rockets shot during the national anthem went into the holes in the Superdome’s ceiling. Not sure if that was on purpose, but it’s not like it could have done any more visible damage.

* For those of you watching at home, our team took the field almost single file. Not like NFL introduction style. It was more like, “Oh crap, we’re supposed to be out there NOW” style, each one seemingly leaving the dressing room as soon as they could get their shoes tied. Our players were still making their way onto the field after the band stopped playing the fight song. That lack of gusto was a foreshadowing of things to come, unfortunately.

* Fan Jamz before the game (outside the stadium) was pitiful. Again Sugar Bowl, LEARN FROM THE SEC. The SEC’s fanfare is so well done it may not be fair to compare them. But whatever the Sugar Bowl was trying to create, it failed. Unless of course it was trying to recreate City Stages. In that case, well done!

* Great move on the part of the Superdome officials to NOT include the tops of bottles to beverages it sold to its patrons. Yeah, let’s give that guy who’s already had seven beers in the first quarter another one, then asking him to climb Mount St. Superdome to his seat without spilling it. And can we ask you not to fill to the rim on beers and mixed drinks in plastic cups? I and all others in attendance sitting on the aisle seats would like to thank you for the beer shampoo we received all night.

* The food in New Orleans remains a draw, but the city itself is like walking around in an above ground sewer system. I personally loved observing the giant mole rat in the outdoor court yard of the restaurant we were about to drop $150 in. The food at the restaurant was exquisite, but I have to admit I involuntarily lifted my feet off the floor throughout the evening.

* Kudos to the New Orleans police department. They were visible and in charge. I never felt unsafe. In need of a bath and a tetanus shot, but never unsafe.

* I truly hope Mt. Cody means what he’s said about coming back next year; I would hate for this to have been his last game at Bama. I don’t think it will be, but with Utah’s scheme, there just weren’t many run downs for him to clog up the middle on.

* And to the guy I yelled at to sit down (who stopped in the aisle, beer in hand with his eight year old at bay to watch a 3rd down play, blocking the view from my $135 seat), the only reasons I didn’t put my fist through your head was (1.) you had a child with you who didn’t get to pick an oaf like you to be his dad, for which sake I didn’t embarrass you when you slurred profanities my way, again spilling your beer on the row in front of me, and (2.) I didn’t want to spend the night in jail in a city like New Orleans. Again, I hate drunks because of the fat ticks on society like yourself.

Finally, after a 7-6 season in 2007–which needed a nail-biter in Shreveport to finish above .500–this team finished 12-2. We defied the critics and jumped over the two teams projected to win the SEC West. We snapped losing streaks to our opponents in November. We had a hand in showing Fat Phil the door. We stomped on fingers. We held the top spot in the polls for five weeks. We competed in the SEC Championship and BCS bowl games. We’ll finish in the top ten, and start 2009 doing the same….and in his second year, this is the second least-talented team Saban will lead during his tenure at Alabama. The future is bright as recruiting will again leave us in the top five programs nationally, and by way of our own blood, sweat and tears–along with some charitable, bad decisions across the state–we have a firm hold of the state title for a while. DJ Fluker and James Carpenter will add to a pool of red-shirted talent to fill the holes left on the offense line, and the beat will go on in T-town next season.

It’s still great to be from Alabama…just wasn’t so good Friday night. But who knows…there may be a rematch with the Utes in January 2010. I’m confident Utah could make it to the big game. Could we? Only time will tell.

Just wish we had a basketball program to pass the time until signing day and spring practice. But don’t get your hopes up. We don’t.

Roll Tide!