Shane: Ring of Crimson Fire

By Shane from Centerpoint

In spite of the over-hyped pomp and pageantry surrounding last Saturday’s match up between Alabama and LSU, the Crimson Tide resolved the contest in its typical business-like manner, using brutal football fundamentals to relentlessly pound the Bengal Tigers into eventual submission.

With Nick Saban football is a four-quarter game, and his squad consistently brings its “A-game” every time the ball snaps.

As the game progressed, with their players being knocked-out by the Tide’s relentless hammer blows, LSU’s offense finally succumbed to the “beast” (Alabama’s defense). For the second year in a row, Coach Les Miles watched his championship hopes burn away in a ring of “crimson” fire.

Alabama’s football team left no doubt that it is better than LSU, but then again, Bama has much better players than anybody that’s been on their schedule so far.

The reason Alabama won this game is brutally simple: the Tide has great playmakers all over the field.

Just like they’ve done to nine other teams this year, the big, red elephants poured the gas on LSU at the end of the third stanza and lit them up in the final chapter.

Alabama was also exceptionally crisp and effective during the last thirty-minutes of the game due to the quality of their second-tier players.

Everybody knows what Ingram, Jones, and Arenas can do, but players like defensive end Marcell Dareus (two critical sacks) and defensive back Robby Green (game–ending interception) are perfect examples of Alabama’s enormous talent pool.

On the other hand, after LSU lost its starting corner, Julio Jones was able to exploit the second-team corner and burn the Tigers for a beautiful seventy-three yard go-ahead touchdown.

Alabama’s entire offense made strides against the Tigers as well – racking up 452 yards against one of the nation’s top-ranked defenses. The passing game was revived with Greg McElroy throwing for 276 yards and two TD’s on 19 of 34 attempts.

Like most of the stop-units that he’s faced, the Tiger defense couldn’t slow Heisman leader Mark Ingram, who ripped the Bayou Bengals for 174 yards on 27 touches.

As highlighted above, Julio Jones returned to form making 4 catches for 102 yards and delivered that brilliant, long touchdown. Just as important was the fact that other receivers had stellar days. Marquis Maze had 6 catches for 88 yards and Darius Hanks caught a clutch 21-yard touchdown pass.

Additionally, several “key” developments occurred in Saturday’s contest that should send waves of concern through the coaching staffs of the Crimson Tide’s next five opponents.

First, this offensive line is proving to be even better than last year’s version. Their pass–blocking is much better, with both running–backs averaging around 6 yards per carry.

Secondly, the defensive backfield completely understands Coach Saban’s elaborate schemes. They ran it to perfection Saturday, holding college football’s best receiving tandem to 8 catches for 74 yards and no touchdowns.

Thirdly, this Alabama team tackles almost as well as an NFL team. In fact most of the guys on this unit are lock-down tacklers.

Also, I’ve watched years of football, and Bama’s defenders hit as hard as any defense I can remember. Just ask LSU’s “stud” tailback, Charles Scott. It was two corner–backs (Arenas and Jackson) that snapped his collarbone when they slammed him to the turf after he broke through the first wall of defenders late in the game.

Finally, Alabama handled the pace of LSU’s (no huddle) “speed” offense well. Actually, it appeared that the Tigers wore themselves down more than they were able to fatigue the Tide defense.

To a large degree, Bama’s defensive coordinator Kirby Smart was able to use Les Miles’ offensive game plan against him, especially in the fourth quarter.

Prior to the show–down, the experts said that LSU would be the best team the Crimson Tide would face this year – in the regular season. If that’s the case, the end result (Bama 24 LSU 15) doesn’t bode well for the last three opponents remaining on their schedule.

Alabama’s remaining foes face a daunting – almost impossible – task indeed, mainly because the Crimson Tide proved against LSU that – beyond any doubt – they are the best in the SEC West.

My prediction last August – that Alabama would win the 2009 national championship – is looking stronger with each passing week. We’ll see?
—Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.