Alabama's Loss to Utah Not on Account of Disrespect and Lack of Preparation!

Damon WildmanCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2009

When is everyone going to quit blaming Bama's loss to Utah on not respecting Utah and not being prepared to play?

I think our guys were as prepared to play as they could have been. Maybe some of the guys on the team were shocked at how good Utah really was, especially after Utah's fast start and after all that they had heard about Utah, but I think they were ready to play.

Losing Andre Smith from the offensive line was devastating to the offense's performance, and then to have another lineman go down early during the game with an injury certainly hurt Bama's chances to be successful on offense. But Utah has a real good defense, certainly SEC caliber, and it wasn't going to be an easy task even if all things had gone perfectly for Bama.

Utah plays the spread like Florida, but they play a more passing scheme spread than Florida's and one that Bama's defense didn't match up well with in hindsight. The best chance Bama had at beating Utah would have been to have success offensively, which they didn't.

I don't think Bama's players and certainly not the coaches disrespected Utah. I think they were shocked at how good Utah played to start out, and it took them by surprise, but I don't think Bama ever disrespected Utah.

I know what some of the players said in the postmortem, but I doubt they really disrespected Utah. I think a lot of what they said was just making excuses for the shock they were in for being beaten as they were. Remember, these players are basically kids in grown bodies.

Yes, teams have off nights, and Bama sure didn't look ON! But you would think that they would be ready to play a game in such an environment after such a long layoff and after having suffered a defeat in their last outing. I mean, football is a game, and what kid doesn't like to play games? They were ready to play, I promise you!

Maybe they were a little rusty, I don't know—but anything other than saying that they got beat by a better team is just making excuses and in my mind demeans Utah's win more than anything that was said before the game was played.
They fought hard in the game though and did all they could to come back, but it just wasn't good enough to make it happen with that big a hole that they were in. Bama was out of their element when they had to play catch up from that far down, and I knew it was probably game over at the end of the first quarter for that reason. But they never quit!

I have read and heard Saban's comments before and after the game, and frankly, if you want to you can take them just about any way you want. But I doubt coach Saban would ever disrespect another team, even one that Bama is clearly better than, on purpose. And Bama clearly is not better than Utah! Maybe had they played earlier in the season they could have beaten Utah, especially with their offensive line intact, but not with their best team unit depleted as it was in the Sugar Bowl.

I don't think anything said prior to the game by coach Saban or the media had any effect on the game either. I really think Utah would have been highly motivated to play Bama regardless of what was said one way or the other. This was their chance to prove to the world how good they really are.

I suppose it's a shock that the second-best team in the SEC could be beaten by an undefeated MWC champion, especially with all the SEC hype that's been going on lately, but it shouldn't be. Bama, for Christ sakes, lost to UL-Monroe just over a year ago. Bama is one season removed from a 7-6 season counting the bowl win against Colorado.

Yes, 16 true freshmen came into the program in the fall that weren't there during the 7-6 season, but the real reason behind the remarkable turnaround was just having a coaching staff for a second year in a row making the right decisions and the players dedicating themselves, as well as just plain dumb luck. Who could have foreseen what looked from the beginning to be a formidable schedule turn out to be so weak?

Playing a ninth-ranked preseason Clemson on a neutral field, a preseason favorite to win the national championship Georgia on their home field, the defending national champions LSU on their home field, the defending East champion of the SEC Tennessee on their own field, and finishing with a top 10 preseason ranked Auburn, who had won six straight against Bama, who would have thought that that schedule would turn out to be so weak?

When Bama started knocking those teams off one after another and other teams across the country started losing, which Bama had no control over, they quickly vaulted up the rankings in the polls and finally to No. 1 for five weeks before they lost a thriller to Florida in the SEC championship game.

Bama, to us Bama fans, looked to be all the way back, even though there were signs that the process was still in the works to get to that point we so thought we were already at. Coach Saban cautioned us fans that there was little depth on the team and that an injury or a suspension could make for trouble down the road. The world and us Bama fans especially were so caught up in our success that we couldn't fathom the thought that we still had a ways to go.

Coach Saban in his post-Sugar bowl comments mentioned that Bama is in a building process and still has a ways to go with recruiting better talent and building experienced depth. That is as true a statement as he has uttered since he has been at Bama.

While Bama experienced a big turnaround in the win-loss department this season, Bama is not to the point that Florida, USC, Oklahoma, Texas, or even an Ohio State is. Like it or not, Bama is at least two, maybe three more top recruiting classes away from being where those programs are presently. But it is a great start!

The truth of it is, and as hard as it is to admit it, Bama had a lot of good fortune go their way to win 12 games this season. Is that anything to be ashamed of? Just ask LSU if they are ashamed of their good fortune in winning the National championship last season.

No, there is nothing to be ashamed of winning the SEC West and 12 games this year. Maybe us fans should be ashamed of some of the crowing and gloating we are guilty of this season. But dang it! After what we have been through the past decade or so, can you really blame us?

My hat is off to Utah! The only undefeated Division I FBS team in the nation. They should win the national championship in the AP poll or at least someone's poll—well, they already have. Mine!

I am a Utah fan and believer now. Not because they beat my beloved Bama team, but because they have shown another chink in the BCS armor. Anything that exposes and hurts the BCS is great in my opinion.

Could Utah have survived the same SEC schedule Bama did this season unscathed? I have my doubts, but there is no denying Utah was the best team Friday night. And honestly, there is really no reason to think that they couldn't have.

BYU won a national championship with probably a lesser team than Utah has many years ago, especially with the résumé they had compared to Utah this year. So why can't Utah win one this season? The AP could give Utah the championship, and I hope they do. I'm not holding my breath though.

As for Bama...well, in reality us Bama fans had to know it was too good to be true for Bama to be back to championship form this soon. Bama is on their way though, and Bama will build from this loss.

Folks...Bama lost to two top five and possibly to the two top teams in the nation! Not bad for a team that has gone through all the turmoil Bama has the past decade or so!

Pay no attention to our jealous rivals! Bama can and will get better! Kinda scary for a team just fresh off a 12-game win record!

Is it too early to start looking ahead to next season?

Bama should improve from this past season next season, but it may not necessarily show up in the win-loss record. A lot depends on how our QB situation and how our O-line develops. We all saw how bad the line can be against Utah.

The thing is we should have players who have another year of development under their belts that should be more talented than what we have leaving if you believe the recruiting services.

Experience will be little at the QB position, but you never know what a year can do for a young player with talent like Star Jackson is supposed to posses.

For you naysayers, look no further than this year's Heisman winner Sam Bradford. Look what he did at Oklahoma last year as a redshirt freshman. Not saying we will get the same results, but you can only hope. If next year's starter can do half as good as he did starting for the first time, we should be OK.

And the recruiting rankings so far for this season bode well for another top recruiting class—something that the Floridas, USCs, Oklahomas, and Texases of the world have been enjoying for some time now.

God I miss Bama football already!