Alabama Football is Like Chess

jrwhiterabbitContributor ISeptember 26, 2010

Razorbacks Give Tide a Challenge!

"That was really not a good half of football, and I really don’t want the players to put it behind them...I want them to remember what it’s like to not play the way you’re capable of playing."  Nick Saban

That is why mistakes become lessons learned. Alabama did not play their best ball during the first half of the Arkansas game. However, they seemed to find a sense of urgency at the half-time break. I am almost certain it was the Saban pep talk at half time that inspired that passion. That or the right team showed up after half time.  Either way, the Tide came out and took care of business.

Saturday's game against the Razorbacks will prove to be one of the important, pivotal games this year. It was the first corner (sometimes being the hardest) in proving to the fans, the other team mates, coaching staff, and nay sayers that you are playing at a different level of football and that your mold is being formed with every game.

Competition is the best way to guage your weakness, your strength and your will.  Adversity is the only way that lessons are learned from the mistakes that are made. If football were a cake walk, there would be no factors to set apart the best.

There would be no bar to raise and expectations would become complacent. What we learned from yesterday will benefit us more and prepare us more for making another run at a National Championship.

What I learned from yesterday....

1. Alabama has a young defense but show promise to how strong they will be in the future. The veteran's from both the offense and defense need to take them under their wing and mentor them. Help shape them in a way that gives them confidence as their talents continues to bloom.

2. The ability to face adversity calmly and keep the game "their" game. Not wavering to the pressure and allowing the other team to play their game until they wear themselves down and then dominate them in most every aspect but more importantly to dominate them mentally. 

That is what we saw yesterday. Arkansas is a good team and probably the toughest all around we will face this year and wearing your opponent down mentally is easiest way to beat them physically. That is where we are so strong and where our patience is our biggest virtue.

3. Our flexibility is second to none. Literally at a moments notice we can change course and challenge what ever the moment brings us.

4. WE learned that this is a team work team. A team that will rally behind a player and push that player to their capable level. Coach Saban does not expect anything from the players that they don't expect from themselves. He expects you to give everything you have for 60 min and leave nothing on the field.

That makes him happy and the reverse will upset him quicker than anything. He pushes for excellence and so does his team. It's all about the mental conditioning of your team, expectations, according to your plan.

5. I also learned that Ryan Mallet is not all that. All the Heisman talk that surrounded him should succumb to the reality.There is no comparison to the Heisman Winner Mark Ingram to the Heisman hopeful Ryan Mallet. Other than the obvious different positions they play....that is irrelevant. Its  the quality of the play action. Hands down no comparison.

6. Finally, when it comes down to the wire...Alabama simply knows how to win. That is something you cannot turn your back on. It's as if it's just another day at the office. They do their job and they get the job done. In other words they finish. That was the difference in yesterdays game plan...Arkansas has not been taught to relish the moment and finish it before it passes un-done.

Finally...I do not want to discredit Arkansas because they are tough. They are a very good team. But the cohesion as a working unit and the strength from within is not that of the Tide. The tide is a one for all and the "I" mentality is what can I do above what is expected to make this work for us. That is the biggest difference I see in the Alabama Football Talent over any other team in college football today.

This is a group of good kids who have come from all types of backgrounds but thing I am the most proud of is their respect to the game, the coaching staff, the school and the fans. They have heart and love for the game. Time and time again you will hear Saban say...I would rather have a player who is less talented with a heart to play football than a player who is a 5 star recruit who wants the fame and name.

Yesterday, point and case, proved why. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that Alabama does more with less talent, and that is because we actually have kids playing that want to play ball at Alabama and most importantly love to play football. The heart will take you places your talent may not. It's that little bit of difference that makes an ordinary extraordinary.

Lastly, if you question the strength of this team or their dedication to this team I ask you to look at the Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson way of life. This is something that you will never see in competition and I hope you appreciate what it is that you are a part of. You have two of the best players in all of college football not only playing on the same team, but, playing the same position.

In most cases, this would result in a very destructive internal conflict. However, both Richardson and Ingram have the most disciplined respect for each other. Mark Ingram last year said that Richardson will be better than he ever dared to be. Richardson says of Mark Ingram that he wants to learn all he can from Mark and that he is the best in the league.

Richardson has stepped up to the plate without hesitation during the two times Ingram was out for injuries. Richardson never once saw this as his opportunity to secure the position. He simply done his job without consideration of "what if?" He simply took the opportunity and gave everything he had because he is part of that team unit.

When you see them alternate playing time in different situations you realize just how special they are and how they differ in what attributes they bring to the table and where they are the best.

During the SEC Championship game last year, Ingram went to Coach Saban on one of the drives during the game and told him that he needed to put Richardson in the game for this drive because the certain situation they were in was Richardson's forte and where he was hands down better for the job.

Coach Saban listened to him and instead of Ingram worrying that it would hurt his Heisman chances he put the team first. He already practices what Saban coaches: "the right now principle." It's not about's about the team and right now I am focused on the game at hand and the finishing of this task.

I have often wondered if the admiration they have for each other is a show and all for the media.  However, after watching them the first few games this year I can safely say that it has nothing to do with appearances and that they both are truly cut from a different cloth and that my friends is why we will make a run for another National Championship, and better than that, that is why we are Alabama football.

We live what we love and it shows in every methodical move that we make.  Alabama Football is like chess—there is no move made that is not well planned and practiced. We also know that a wrong move will cost us more than any advantage we would receive if we strayed from our game.  

We have a plan and that is the first step in everything you do in life and just like every well thought plan comes a series of well thought steps in order to achieve.


Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant. -Horace


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