Alabama currently sits at No.3 in both the AP and Coaches Poll. Some argue (including myself) why the Tide aren't sitting atop the college football world right now thanks to less than spectactular outings of Florida (23-13) vs Tennessee and Texas (34-24) vs a Texas Tech team with no defense. It seems the Tide faithful may in fact have a reason as to why they should be #1. Here are the reasons why I think Alabama will be the best in the land at the end of the post season.
Richardson has added a new weapon to the deadly backfield of the Tide...COMBINATION...a combination of speed of Roy Upchurch, the strength of Mark Ingram, and the agility of Terry Grant. Richardson is averaging 7.9 yards per carry with three td's on the season in really only two games. He has only played against lesser teams and has yet to show his talent against a top notch defense but the Tide has faith in his ability.
The Tide have already knocked off a Top-10 team in Virginia Tech and have disposed of two Sunbelt teams with a 40-14 win over FIU and a 53-7 win over North Texas. The Tide open up the SEC slate this week with a Pass-Happy Arkansas team coming to T-town. The toughest game of the season appears to be a trip to Oxford to face the Ole Miss Rebels who have yet to prove themselves against a quality opponent. The Tide get LSU at home and travel across the state to face rival Auburn who is improving each week under 1st year head coach Gene Chizik. The Tide have the luxury of not having to play the top two SEC East teams in Florida and Georgia.
McElroy has by far been the biggest surprise of the season for the Tide. In his first career collegiate start, McElroy broke former Tide QB John Parker Wilson's personal record of 220 passing yards against a low Ole Miss squad with 224 against a Top-10 defense of VT. McElroy has thrown for 647 yards and four Td's including a 13-15 completion attempt ratio against North Texas with 176 yards and two Td's while also adding on a rushing td in less than a half of play. McElroy is 2nd in the league in passing yards with 647 behind pass happy Arkansas's Ryan Mallett who leads with 717 yards. He is also 2nd in completion ratio with 66.7 percent nipping on the heels of Tim Tebow who holds a 67.2 percent completion rate on the season.
Kiffin did everything he could to keep the Vols in with Florida in their 23-13 loss. He pretty much provided the rest of the country with a blueprint on how to expose the Florida offense. His remedy??? Blitz, Blitz, Blitz..... Kiffin put his biggest defensive playmaker All-American Saftey Eric Berry in position to make plays while bringing the house. The Vol defense did something no defense has been able to do in a while, not allow Tebow a passing TD.
New Guy Lane Kiffin showed us that the No.1 ranked Florida Defense has a glaring weakness....Run Defense. The Vols amassed 117 rushing yards against a defense that returned 11, yess 11 starters from the national championship team last year. The Vols did this with two running backs, Monterio Hardesty and Bryce Brown. Imagine what a team with four running backs who could start anywhere in the country could do against them...
This years O-line was supposed to be this years weak spot...What happened to that??? The answer is O-line Coach Joe Pendry. Pendry's pupils are improving each week their on the field. The line has allowed only three sacks on the season, with two of those in the first half of the VT game. They are clearing the lanes for running backs Ingram, Upchurch, Richardson, and Grant to run through. The Tide running backs are averaging over 250 yds per game and credit is due to the surprising play of the Tide O-line.
The Tide posess arguably the best and deepest linebacking corps in the nation with starters Donta' Hightower, Corey Reamer, Eryk Anders,and led by All-American Rolando McClain. The best Linebacking corps is backed up by possibly the best 2nd team unit with Chris Jordan, Courtney Upshaw, Micheal DeJohn, Chavis Williams.
Most would say Julio hasn't done anything so far this season. I disagree. Statistic wise with only five receptions for 55 yards you would be correct but Julio draws double and sometimes even triple teams every time he lines up and with opposing defenses doing this it opens other Tide receivers to make plays. This is going out on a limb but I have to say there is no corner in the country who can cover Jones one on one.
What do you do when you have four running backs who all are capable of playing every snap of each game??? You play all of them... Super Sophmore Mark Ingram, Super Freshman Trent Richardson are the leaders of the Tide running backs with other weapons like the lightning fast Roy Upchurch and quick Terry Grant. The Tide alternate backs on just about every play and now have thrown a new wrinkle into their gameplan, the Wildcat. Unveiled against VT Ingram takes a direct snap and has several reads to decide to hand off the ball to either a motioning Julio Jones or another running back or to just take the ball himself up the middle. With this many weapons in the backfield, opposing defenses will stay up all night gameplaning against the tide.
Three weeks into the 09 season and five of the Preseason Top 10 teams have fallen. Oklahoma-BYU, USC-Washington, Oklahoma State-Houston, Oregon-Boise State (not much of an upset) and Virginia Tech to Alabama. With Texas just barely getting past Texas Tech and Florida getting all it wanted from Tennessee, it shouldn't be long before the Tide move even further up in the national spotlight.
"Mount Cody" is a monster on the D-line and was an All-American in only one season of D-1 football. He didn't earn that status for his stats (33 tkls-five tfl) but rather his ability to draw double teams on almost every play and sometimes triple teams. With other teams doing this it opens up lanes for the linebackers, mainly MLB Rolando McClain, to go unblocked and destroy the opposing running back or Quarterback.
In his 3rd season as the head man of the Crimson Tide, Saban has his squad in the national title hunt. Most consider Saban the 2nd best coach in the nation behind Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators. Saban cares about each and every one of his players and treats every game as if it's the national title game.
"Javy" not only is among the best return men in the country but is also a solid corner. At 5'9" 198lbs he's hard to see behind big blockers and is also as agile as they come. He is shorter than the ideal corner but he makes up for it with his jumping ability, grit, and hitting ability.