Saturday night, I was in Tuscaloosa for the Alabama/FIU game. Without question, the game was important. I think perhaps we learned more about the team this week than last week.
Alabama struggled early, and then took control in the second half, winning 40-14.
However, as happens from time to time, I found myself losing focus on the game. Call me what you will, but in a game such as the one on Saturday, one's mind wonders. Here is a brief synopsis of my random thoughts from Saturday night. Do not expect much rhyme or reason to this. Some of this is relevant. Some is not.
"We play Dixieland Delight/Sweet Home Alabama too much."
Am I imagining this? It really seems that the loudspeakers blast "Sweet Home" for 30 minutes before every game and "Dixieland Delight" during every time out. I love both songs, but maybe we are playing into that stereotype everyone else has of us with our affinities for those two songs. I, for one, am in favor of expanding the playlist.
On the positive side, I couldn't be more pleased at the selection of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" before kickoff. Anybody who doesn't get at least a little bit amped when they hear that may not actually be breathing.
"How worried should I be at the 'injuries' to Ingram, Jones, and Upchurch?"
I will have to admit to being a bit paranoid when it comes to injuries. I was a little concerned to find out that a) Julio rested on the bench, icing his knee, b) Upchurch was also out because, according to multiple sources in my section, "something is wrong with his back, or his foot, or his neck," (yes, we get the inside scoop), and c) Ingram is still under the weather and nursing a sore ankle, but has been pressed into playing due to the injuries.
Later, I learned that most of this was precautionary, but let us not forget that Jones and Ingram are sophomores. They each have a season and a game under the belt, and could use as much playing time as possible for the stretch run. I agree that the conservative route is the correct one when it comes to injuries, but I believe this is a bigger deal than it has been made out to be.
"Trent Richardson, at least early on, looks as good as advertised."
How much hype could one back have to live up to?
I was too young when Alabama recruited Humphrey, Jelks, Stacy, and the like to know if they came with this kind of fanfare. To hear the rumors, Richardson's strength and quickness remind people of a young Hershel Walker.
Saturday night, I got a chance to see what the fuss was about. You will not hear me claim that he has Heismans in his future or that he should be starting. What you can say is that he is of a different physical breed than everyone else on that field. He is raw and unharnessed now, but, as they say, the upside is gigantic.
"The stadium expansion is underway, I see your 92,000, and raise you 10,000."
Construction on the new upper deck at Bryant-Denny is fully underway. I don't know if others will admit this, but our stadium capacity has become a competition with the other larger schools, especially in the conference. I haven't the slightest idea why it makes me happy that our capacity is, or soon will be, larger than the stadiums at Auburn, Georgia, Florida, and LSU, but it just does. Juvenile, isn't it?
"Is it just entirely too much to ask to get some score updates during the game?"
Maybe I am the only one who is annoyed by this, but why can't we have score updates running across one of the 64 scoreboards at the stadium?
Saturday, I was anxiously hoping that Tennessee had laid an egg against UCLA (check), and that Auburn was struggling with Mississippi State (not so much). With a little less urgency, I was wondering what happened in Michigan, and what was going on in Columbus.
Total number of score updates: Two. I understand that, at least according to one of the pre-game montages, we "live" Alabama football, but I would still like to check out what else is going on. I mean, Tennessee was losing! Shouldn't this have been repeated at least ten times?
"What is the NCAA record for consecutive games in which a team has given up a kickoff return for a touchdown?"
"How good is Auburn?"
I really try to take the high road most of the time, I do. But I don't like Auburn, I don't wish them the best, I don't hope "the Iron Bowl 'means' something because it's 'better' that way."
I could lie. I won't.
I hope that Auburn loses every time they step on the field, excepting when they face Tennessee, and maybe then too.
Much to my chagrin, Auburn looks to be improved. The changes in the staff, at least now, appear to be the right ones. The team has a totally different look than the last time I saw them, and they have managed about 1,100 yards in two games. I know the competition hasn't been first-run, but the offensive turnaround has been eye-popping. I am moderately concerned.
"Florida is good."
I watched some of the Florida/Troy game. I am glad they aren't on the regular schedule. If Alabama stays healthy and gets a shot at them in December, they are going to have to play at or very near their best to stay competitive.
Most teams won't.
"Georgia and Tennessee may have brought the SEC's reputation down, just a notch."
In the few "name" non-conference games the SEC has been involved in so far this year, the conference appears to have weakened, at least at the middle level.
Georgia, although a slight underdog anyway, went to Oklahoma State and lost by two touchdowns. An acceptable loss, sure, but it would have been a badge of honor for the conference to defeat a Big 12 team on the road.
Tennessee, on the other hand, lost as a double-digit favorite, at home, to UCLA, a team that had to travel across the country to Knoxville for the game. Losing to a mid-level Pac-10 team in front of 106,000 people is not exactly a running start for Lane Kiffin, or a boasting point for the SEC.
That was the lot of it. The very random, very disjointed thoughts of your average Alabama fan. And this is just week two.