Previewing the BCS National Championship Game

Listen to the podcast. Capstone Report contributors talk about the Alabama Crimson Tide’s game against the Texas Longhorns. Topics include Keys to the game, the historical significance of the game and the SEC’s pathetic showing in this season’s bowl games. (You’ll have to click play to hear more including Shane from Centerpoint, Intheknow, and our moderator’s thoughts on the game.)

A sample of some of what you’ll hear:

Capstone Report (Alan): What does this mean to Alabama fans?
I think winning the SEC and having a shot at the national title is vindication for Alabama fans. Crimson Tide fans like to talk about championships, but there is something else more fundamental that Alabama fans expect—EXCELLENCE. Alabama expects to compete for championships, and it has historically done this through insisting on the best from its athletic department. There were lots of talking heads who said Alabama’s time had passed. They said Alabama couldn’t beat the Auburn’s, Tennessee’s and Florida’s. What is Alabama’s record against those teams since Saban’s arrival? Win or lose in this game, Alabama matters again in college football. When Mike Shula was at the helm, Alabama didn’t matter. That wasn’t all Shula’s fault—Alabama fans’ insistence on hiring Mike Dubose was a big part of the decline—but it proves having the right man coaching is the key to WINNING. What Nick Saban has done means that Alabama fans were right to want a coaching change. Just being in Pasadena is big. It is an exclamation mark on the end of Alabama’s time in the wilderness.

CR: 3 Keys to the game for Texas
I know that I sound like Gary Danielson, but I believe pass protection almost always determines the game. You have to be able to protect the QB. Now, how well can Alabama do that? How well can Texas do that after the disaster against Nebraska? There are ways to combat poor offensive line performance by utilizing quick reads and throws. I think Texas will do some of this. So this first key is pass protection and it feeds into the second key: Establish an early RHYTHM. Offense is about momentum. Napoleon said “The force of an army…is the sum of its mass multiplied by its speed.” It works in football too. Offense works best when it is pressing the defense. How do you press the defense? You do it through positive gains. So, get some rhythm in the passing game and minimize negative plays. Get Colt McCoy to run the football. Last summer when I interviewed former Alabama offensive coordinator Homer Smith, he said offenses are best when the quarterback is a threat to run the ball. I think that is particularly true in the case of Texas. McCoy is probably the best part of the Longhorns ground attack.

CR: 3 Keys to the game for Alabama
1. PROTECT Greg McElroy. There I go again, but you can’t underestimate the importance of this in big games. QB play always determines big games. Just look at the NFL. The teams that win have great quarterbacks. The teams that lose? They suck at quarterback. So, to make sure McElroy has a good game—the line has to do its job.

2. Alabama has to minimize yards after catch. Texas offense is best when it gets big runs after the catch. Alabama’s linebackers and defensive backs need to tackle well. Texas averaged less than 300 yards total offense against the best defenses it faced this year.

3. The last key for the Tide. Don’t allow a cheap score. Alabama needs to cover kicks and not turnover the ball. Those are typical points, but are even bigger in championship games.