Winning is simple. Just do it.
Easier said than done. And as years go for the Alabama Crimson Tide, this has not been the worst one. However, high expectations are never easy to let down. And that is exactly what Tide fans had this season. High expectations.
Coming into the fall camp the talk of repeating was flourishing the airwaves. The hiccups were simple and obvious to the naked eye. Replace nine starters on defense and make sure the secondary could handle the passing game.
The offense was going to be so explosive with Trent, Mark, Julio, Maze, Hanks and a seasoned McElroy staying in the fold. They were going to score points galore and actually win games for the Crimson Tide this year. Power, power and more power.
This offense would make up for the glaring fact that a young or inexperienced defense would not be able to handle the opposing team.
How Tide fans and prognosticators became so wrong this year, me included.
I want to point out a couple of observations about this season.
Once again the Alabama defense leads the league in total defense. And they are second only to LSU in passing defense. So much for a weak secondary issue. Yes, I know, they did get burned more than once on the deep pass. Those were crucial plays I might add. Can someone say "pass rush defense"?
The offense which was to be so explosive was in one area. The passing game. The Tide went from being ranked 89th in the country (regular season play) in '09 to 28th this season. Why? Well, because the rushing game went from 13th to an astonishing 38th. This considering the Tide had two of the best running backs in the business. The offense stayed pretty much static in the scoring department, dropping from the 25th to 22nd spot.
We all know the issues with the offensive line. The Tide usually rolled in instead of rolling out. And this didn't bode well for Greg McElroy, who was garnering jeers from opposing fans as "McSack-Elroy". Couple that with the whole running back nicknaming saga plus perceived defensive issues, and you have a recipe for lack of focus, miscommunication and team dysfunction.
So, why lose when you can win?
A prime example of that statement is the Arkansas game. We can dissect it from Monday through Saturday and twice on Sunday and come up with several plausible points. However, only one aspect holds the truth: The will to win from both sides of the Alabama ball.
As we saw in this past 2010 SEC Conference Championship game, South Carolina was the team we thought they were. However, upon meeting up against Alabama, they had the will to win on both sides of the ball. The Alabama win is their only marquee win of the season. And, don't say the Gators, because every Western division team they played beat them this year. Sure, South Carolina is an improved team from years past, but they are no Alabama.
I might add that because of Alabama's history, most teams play up to them.
It is hard to have the "will" every game of the season. Auburn has it right now. 'Bama had it last year. LSU had it in every game but two this year. The same goes with Arkansas. And yes, sometimes luck is part of that will, but it is not a relied-upon factor. It is just happenstance, and one team is willing to move forward with it, utilize it, and profit from it while the other team is willing to let it bring them down.
The will to win consists of three components: focus, execution and talent. At times Alabama had all three. And in other instances the Tide only had one or two of the three working. A team only becomes a team when, first, a player focuses on the present task at hand, second, that player executes his part, and third, the player utilizes his talents to follow through on that task.
Alabama has the talent. So where is the focus and execution? Where is the will to win?
Alabama fans hope it is at the Capital One Bowl, because why lose to Michigan State win you can win?