Shane: Through Crimson-colored glasses

By Shane from Centerpoint
The Alabama Crimson Tide cruised through Saturday’s dominating victory over Bob Petrino’s Arkansas Razorbacks like a bull elephant, stomping the Hogs with surprising ease. That’s two years in a row that Nick Saban (actually Kirby Smart) has made one of the nation’s best offensive minds look clueless. Petrino entered Bryant-Denny stadium with the nation’s second ranked offense and left with a team that looked shell-shocked after spending sixty-minutes in Saban’s meat grinder.

One thing is certain, Arkansas’s talented young quarterback, Ryan Mallet, received an instructional lesson about the type of defenses he will face if he makes it to the NFL. Smart and Saban confused Mallet from the start with complex alignments. The Tide’s defensive pressure and excellent coverage caused a major meltdown by the Arkansas signal–caller. Mallet completed only 12 of 35 (34%) of his passes for 160 yards and one touchdown. He also threw an interception and was sacked twice by star defensive-back Javier Arenas.

Alabama’s defense shut down Arkansas’ only weapon and the Tide offense burned the Razorback defense for three explosive (52, 50 & 80 yd.) touchdowns. Super-back Mark Ingram added two more to deliver the knock–out blow.

Actually, Petrino should’ve just packed the bus and left when he was down 14-0 at the half. The game was over from a physical standpoint, because it was more than evident that both of Alabama’s fronts had forced Arkansas to quit along the line of scrimmage.

I said before the game that Julio Jones and Mark Ingram could’ve gone fishing and the Crimson Tide would still crush the Razorbacks. I was right. Neither plays defense and Javier is always around to light it up. Seriously, the statement about Julio and Mark was made to point out how talented and deep Alabama really is at every position. By the way, Jones and Ingram are “superstars” – they’ll both excel at the next level.

This Alabama team puts on a consistent, high-energy performance every time it takes the field. Saturday was no different. External factors do not seem to affect this team’s focus on the task at hand. The team definitely reflects Nick Saban’s relentless nature and actually appears to get stronger in the second half of games.

The fact that winning seems to be a product of flawless execution bodes well for this football team because it displays a “killer instinct” and desire for precision on almost every play.

However, the best indicator that this team is going to win championships doesn’t originate on the gridiron. I got a clear picture in the post-game press conference of what this Alabama team is all about. Every single Tide player in that media room spoke the same message, almost as if they had one heartbeat.
They all wanted to make it known that they are only about one thing – doing the best job they can to help their team win.

For example: I asked Julio Jones if the double teams he has had to face each week negatively affect him? He answered calmly that as long as those teams choose to give him all the attention, other players would have the opportunity to make big plays. Jones is a class act and a team player.

I also asked senior linebacker Cory Reamer how the injury to Donta Hightower would affect the team. He responded with true concern for his fellow defender, but also said that he and the team would step up and insure that the defense continues to perform with the same excellence.

I watched Greg McElroy, who was surrounded by a horde of reporters, handle the spotlight like a seasoned veteran. His ability to give credit for his production to his fellow players is a sign that he is their leader. This Alabama team feeds off of Greg’s poise and knowledge of the game. Greg also stated that “efficiency” is his number one goal as a quarterback – so far he’s been deadly efficient.

In the SEC most of a team’s success is based on quality play at the quarterback position and its defense. Respectively, the Crimson Tide has two of the best in college football.
—Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.