By Shane from Centerpoint
With seven minutes left in the 2009 SEC championship game, the television announcers were attempting to keep people tuned in because it was evident by that point that the game was over. CBSâ€™s Verne Lundquist finished by pointing out that Urban Meyer and his Florida Gatorsâ€™ 22â€“game winning streak was over and Alabama was now turning its thoughts to Pasadena and the national championship.
That night there would be no appearance by â€œSupermanâ€ in the fourth quarter. He had already been neutralized by Alabamaâ€™s â€œCrimsoniteâ€ defense. Tim Tebowâ€™s last shot at college football glory melted away as he kneeled on the sideline and cried while the Crimson Tide used its brutal running game to extinguish the remaining time left on the clock.
Truthfully, the overall dominance displayed by the Tide Saturday was phenomenal and its fundamental execution was textbook in nature.
From holding the Gatorâ€™s offense to 88-yards rushing, to ripping the nationâ€™s number-one defense against the run for 253 yards, Alabama took the Florida Gator linemen behind the woodshed, whipping them all night on both sides of the ball.
Bama quarterback Greg McElroy stole the show from Floridaâ€™s â€œgolden boyâ€ Tim Tebow. While Tebow looked intense as he sprinted in the pre-game warm-ups, McElroy brought his killer-instinct to the field for the battle. He threw with deadly precision (66%), made some beautiful key runs, and even threw big blocks for his runners. Tebow only ran for his life.
Alabamaâ€™s first Heisman trophy winner-to-be, Mark Ingram, earned the right to claim the prize Saturday in Atlanta by serving as the Tideâ€™s main weapon in the nationâ€™s most dangerous pro-style arsenal. He is the most important player on the number-one team in the nation. His 29 touches produced 189 yards and three touchdowns â€“ all against the best defense in the country.
The receivers were stellar as well, providing McElroy with crisp routes. And, Julio Jones â€“ who had modest numbers catching the rock â€“ was like an extra tight end in the running game, leading every long gain by knocking defensive backs on the ground. He is a leader by example, playing his role to perfection.
Alabama did all the little things well against Florida. They were 73% on third-down conversions, had only one penalty, and did not turn the ball over.
The Crimson Tide defense cancelled the Gatorâ€™s main weapon â€“ the triple option, and pressured Tebow relentlessly every time he dropped back to pass. It nullified Floridaâ€™s speed by holding Demps, Rainey, and James to a combined rushing-total of 25 yards.
Actually, Nick Saban coached a perfect game and made Urban Meyer look (Les Miles) clueless at times during the contest. Bama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain also made the Gator defense look like its defensive signal-caller Charley Strong had already left for Louisville.
The Florida offense was mostly bewildered from the start. However, Tim Tebow made some great throws in the first two stanzas. Florida even held on – showing some fight – by trailing only 19-13 at the half.
But, after Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and his top G.A., Nick Saban, made adjustments the party was over. Defensive quarterback Rolando McClain took their plan to field and shut the â€œfighting-Tebowsâ€ out in the second half.
As the end neared, the Tideâ€™s new field general, Greg McElroy, proceeded to execute the most beloved play in the Crimson Tideâ€™s playbook â€“ the â€œvictory-kneelâ€, a true display of class.
Meanwhile, across the field, Tim Tebow wept as he felt the agony of defeat â€” his teammate holding his head. He had the look of a man who was realizing that a new sheriff is in charge. A devastating loss in his last SEC game sent him the message loud and clear.
This victory and SEC championship are very big. Alabamaâ€™s done it 22 times now. Admittedly, Tide fans should be proud, considering a program of Floridaâ€™s quality has only eight titles. But, at Alabama, SEC championships are expected.
Understanding that, Nick Saban will give his guys a few days to enjoy being the conference champion, then heâ€™ll begin to prepare them for the grand prize â€“ the national crown.
By the way, I donâ€™t think Saban will miss the one big stat that should motivate this team â€“ the Texas Longhorns are one of the few teams the Crimson Tide has faced and never beaten (0-7-1).
Do I think that â€“ or anything else â€“ will factor into the championship gameâ€™s results? Not really. Saban is far too lethal when he has a month to custom-design a defense for an opponent.
In the championship game, Longhornsâ€™ superstar-quarterback Colt McCoy will probably suffer the same fate that broke Tim Tebow last Saturday. Simply put, if Alabama shuts McCoy down, Texas is toast!
â€”Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.