It’s become a common theme each year under Nick Saban. Bama is back..again…and anyone wanting to dethrone Dixie’s Football Pride best start hitting their knees.
The football gods weren’t hearing it last Saturday. Prayers sent from places like Lee County, Knoxville and Baton Rouge fell on deaf ears. Partially because there is no such thing as football gods, partially because reality weighed too heavy for the fantasy of Bama’s rivals.
The Crimson Tide is, again, for real.
Bama did everything it could to help the Florida Gators on Saturday, but still smashed the once proud Gators by three touchdowns. Only Nick Saban’s mercy late in the fourth period kept it from being four.
The prayers of Bama haters have centered in part on the quarterback position. “Please let Blake Sims beat out Jake Coker.” Tabbed by the media and fans as the second coming of Joe Namath, Coker’s inability to win the job would obviously indicate a sudden drop off at the game’s most important offensive position at the Capstone. Right? Well, those prayers were answered…in part.
But be careful what you pray for, haters.
All Blake Sims did Saturday was etch his name in the Tide record books. His 335 yard first half was the second most in a half behind Greg McElroy’s 339 yards on Nov. 26, 2010 against Auburn. He finished with 445 total yards through the air on the day, also second in Bama history for most yards in a single game behind Scott Hunter’s 484-yard performance against Auburn on Nov. 29, 1969.
Oh, and his 445 yards didn’t come against San Jose State. It was Will Muschamp’s Unversity of Florida.
In short, Blake Sims wasn’t just a man, he was THE man. Alabama hasn’t had a quarterback like Sims in my lifetime. He’s mobile, with explosive bursts of speed when he needs it, coupled with a cannon for an arm when it’s time to use it. Oh, and pin-point accuracy? Check.
The other prayer? Please let Bama’s defense not be up to snuff. Well, sorry again, haters.
If Alabama doesn’t help you in 2014, you won’t have much of a chance. And even if they do, you still won’t have much of a chance. The Gators could manage just 200 yards of offense and two touchdowns on Saturday, both coming on a short field after turnovers. The Bama defense has yielded just three TD’s this season.
In head coach Nick Saban’s 98-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited opponents to under 300 yards of total offense 63 times, or 64.3 percent of the time. This year the Tide has held three of four opponents below 300 yards (Florida: 200 yards, Southern Miss: 263 yards, Florida Atlantic: 145 yards).
Okay, so Bama has found a passing game…a dang potent one, the likes that hasn’t been seen in T-Town in handfuls of decades. And so the defense is as stingy as ever. But at least the Tide’s running game isn’t what it once was, right?
Wrong. Late in the game Bama did what Bama does: Wear down an opponent in the trenches, pushing them around like little girls while grown men like Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon eat their lunches. Henry would finish the day with 111 yards on the ground, marking the first time the Tide has had a 400+ yard passer (445, Sims), a 200+ yard receiver (201, Cooper) and a 100+ yard rusher.
Perhaps the biggest surprise this season isn’t that big a surprise at all. Those who had buried Lane Kiffin among his myriad of personal miscues and mistakes in his young career are seeing the Tide’s playcaller rising from the grave like a damn zombie. The state of Alabama does indeed have a mastermind when it comes to offensive design and playcalling, and his offense has nothing to do with bush-league tactics like snapping the ball before an opponent is ready.
No, Alabama’s legion of offensive specialists in the hands of Lane Kiffin is downright scary, and the Jonathon Crompton-like job he’s doing on Blake Sims is enough to make any rival fan sit up and say “Oh, $#%@.”
And the scariest part: With the regular season a third of the way gone, Bama has zero significant injuries to speak of, and hasn’t come close to playing its best game. With paper Tiger SEC West foes LSU and Auburn showing early indications of predictable drop-off (and were we really surprised about Auburn?), Alabama looks poised to contend for it all yet again..you know, a little something called sustained success––a foreign substance in places like Lee County, Athens and Baton Rouge.
Maybe the best news is that our quarterback doesn’t sound like this:
The Tide’s off week sets up perfectly for what will be a challenging October: A stretch that includes trips to Oxford, Fayettville and Knoxville, with a visit from that peculiar bunch from College Station. Then another off week before LSU positions the Tide for the final run to glory…a run where it appears the toughest out will be Mississippi State.
Indeed, the season is still young, but you can bet no one in Tuscaloosa has lost any sleep over what they’ve seen so far this year. Unless, that is, you count loss of sleep from downright giddiness.