Shane: Who’s number one?

By Shane from Centerpoint

I saw the best team in the country play football Saturday, and it wasn’t playing in Austin, TX or Gainesville, FL. Urban Meyer and his Florida Gators struggled at home to beat a very average Tennessee Vol team and Texas still hasn’t played anybody yet. Before you throw it out there, no, I don’t think beating a rebuilding and unranked Texas Tech team at home is very impressive. However, the Alabama Crimson Tide started the season by hammering the 7th ranked team in the country. In the two ensuing tune-up games Alabama’s looked the part of a champion, scoring 93 points to the opposition’s 21. Through the first three games Alabama’s execution (on both sides of the ball) is sharper than the Longhorn’s or the Gator’s. Bama also appears to have the most talent on defense.

Prior to Saturday’s kickoff, most people believed that Urban Meyer’s offense was an unstoppable juggernaut. After watching their game against Tennessee closely, I see that Florida has an Achilles heel on offense – they are very deficient in their outside game. Florida also doesn’t seem to have its normal level of talent at the wide–receiver position.

Actually, Tennessee’s Monte Kiffin developed a blueprint before and during the game that other defensive coaches will use to slow the Gators down.

With a solid quarterback the Vols might’ve even won. I could end up being wrong, but I don’t think this year’s version of the “Fighting Tebows” is going to be as dominant as the Florida team of last year.

One other thing I noticed about the Gators’ defense while watching their game against Tennessee – they had a hard time stopping the run. If they don’t get that corrected it could hurt them later during the SEC wars.

Mack Brown’s Texas team is loaded with talent and will probably win the Big 12 this year. However, it won’t mean much since the opposition they‘ll have to beat to win the championship is mediocre at best.

As I watched them play last Saturday night I tried to gage the Longhorn’s talent. I was amazed how much faster SEC linemen are than the type of interior players that Texas had on the field. Nothing would convince me that Texas could beat Alabama or Florida along either side of the line of scrimmage.

Besides, Texas has an easy schedule. The only supposed challenge down the road that Texas has to face is Oklahoma. After the Sooners got slammed by BYU, who recently gave up 50-plus to Florida State, I don’t believe Oklahoma is that good anyway.

Texas is nothing more than a beneficiary of media hype.

They are over-rated. If the Longhorns face an SEC opponent in the BCS championship they will probably get shellacked, just because of the difference in overall speed.

On the other hand, the Alabama Crimson Tide’s performance level in the first three games has been impressive and efficient. This team has talent and depth at every position. It is also very aggressive.

Quarterback Greg McElroy has exceeded expectations. He displays the poise and accuracy of an experienced playmaker. If he continues to progress at the rate he’s going and stays healthy, Alabama has a solid shot at the national crown – “G-Mac” is that good.

Realistically, this Tide defense stands a chance to be as good as any defense that has ever worn the Crimson jersey. I don’t think anyone will dispute that. And, yes, defense definitely wins championships!

By the way, Alabama also has two of the best running–backs in the nation. Mark Ingram is Heisman material. He may not get a vote, but I think Ingram can do it all. He is an NFL–caliber back right now. And, what about freshman Trent Richardson! There isn’t a more talented young player in the country. I’m looking forward to seeing that “stallion” running wild in the future – he is f-a-s-t!

Maybe it truly doesn’t matter at this point in the season what team is ranked number-one, but I know that among the top three, only Alabama has taken down an equal foe with comparable talent. For that reason alone, I believe that Alabama should be considered the best and ranked at the top.
—Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.