Alabama Football team faced familiar struggles against the Tulane Green Wave

Ben CulpepperContributor ISeptember 7, 2008

Life is once again hard for the Crimson Tide players after a dismal showing against a below-average Tulane Green Wave team.  One week after dismantling a top 10 Clemson squad, Bama returned to their mediocre ways of shoddy offense and a much too forgiving defense.  A few, and I mean few, of the positives from the home opener for Bama were junior cornerback/punt return guru Javier Arenas, freshman running back sensation Mark Ingram, and steady linebacker Rolando McClain.  Arenas highlighted a mind-numbing first half with his 4th career punt return for a touchdown, which was listed as an 87 yard return but add the east-west yards to the north-southyards and you are pushing the century mark.  The game was over quick for Arenas when he left the game with a concussion due to a bone-jarring hit delivered by a Tulane special teamer.  Coincidentally, kicker Leigh Tiffin left the game the exact same way. 

Linebacker Rolando McClain ended the night with 14 tackles (9 solo) that helped Alabama prevent Tulane from scoring a touchdown.  The Tide has yet to surrender a 6 pointer through 2 games this season.  Rolando reminds me of a Latin American immigrant worker on the field, but instead of desperately looking for work, he is looking for tackles.  Es el pan nuestro de cada día, Rolando! (it is all in a days work)

Freshman Mark Ingram had the best offensive play of the night with a tough 15 yard run for a score in the second half to put Bama up 20-3.  The son of former NFL receiver Mark Ingram continues to impress with every touch of the ball.  This freshman just doesn't go down, at least not from one hit.

With all the positives from the game out of the way (yea, that's about it), it is time to turn the attention to the negatives.  Where do I begin?  Should I start with John Parker Wilson's uncanny ability to overthrow every receiver who has a defender beat down field?  Maybe I can start with the poor offensive line performance to control the line of scrimmage against a very understaffed Tulane defensive line.  How about I start with negative effects of injuries.

With big (understatement) left tackle Andre Smith sitting out with a knee sprain, Junior left guard Mike Johnson got the start at left tackle.  Redshirt Sophomore guard David Ross filled in at left guard for all of 2 minutes before right guard Marlon Davis left the game with a pulled hamstring.  This forced Ross to right guard and brought converted defensive tackle Bryan Motley into the game at left guard.  Musical chairs comes to mind after typing that. To say there was a dropoff in the performance would be putting it lightly.  They were pitiful.  Luckily for Saban and his Crimson Tide football team, they play Western Kentucky(the "get every player healthy because the SEC schedule is about to begin" game) next week which should serve to some younger players as valuable playing time and experience but Alabama hasn't allowed themselves that luxury lately.  They have been more inclinedto let teams like Western Kentucky, Tulane, Duke, Florida Intl, La. Monroe, etc(the list has ballooned over the past few years) hang around for 4 quarters forcing them to play the starters the entire game.   Louisiana Monroe didn't just hang around, they were victorious over Alabama last year in what was maybe the most embarrasing loss in the program's storied history.  Everyone wants to know what kind of player backup quarterback Greg McElroy is, but he never has the opportunity to play because JPW is on his back or overthrowing open receivers.  This horrid play prevents any backup from entering a game. Maybe JPW, in a selfish move, purposely plays poorly so he gets all the snaps in order to ascend up the record books.  For those of you into conspiracies, have fun with that one.  Without going off on a tangent(sarcasm), the hamstring injury to Marlon Davis doesn't seem to be serious and the concussed Javier Arenas and Leigh Tiffin(this particular kicker reminds me to not say anything about the debut of a freshman kicker who missed an extra point, missed a 37 yard field goal, then proceeded to kick the ball out of bounds on his first kickoff.  Is there a worse way to start a kicking career than that? I guess if he had given a Garo Yupremian  backward toss of the ball it could have been worse, but I am not going to say anything about this kicker because he is ,afterall, a true freshman) should be able to play in next weeks game.  It is a good thing too because for Bama, Western Kentucky is a juggarnaut on the schedule and they will need all the help they can get.

On to John Parker Wilson's performance.  It is a miracle this guy doesn't hold the NCAA record for interceptions with his constant lobbing of the football. He has yet to throw an interception this year mainly because of the dumbing down of the quarterback position by new offensive coordinator Jim McElwain. I will say his lobs this year have a little more zip on them than the previous two years but they sometimes resemble a slow-pitch softball game.  Note to Wilson:  Mike McCoy is 6'2, not 7'2. With the scabs on the o-line, JPW was put on his can 4 times.  Ouch.  Who has heard this before: Billy- "Did you hear JPW was sacked 4 times against a bad Tulane team Saturdee (for some reason in Alabama, the advanced age group pronounces the end of the days of the week with the "ee" sound instead of the "ay" sound.  I am stumped on this one.)  Bob-"Well shit, you'd be sacked 4 times if you had an offensive line like that!  Guess it's back to the drawin' board on Mondee"  I figured you had.  To Wilson's credit, he does have some wheels(common analogy for being able to run well, in this case, just well enough to escape decapitation) albeit, Ford Focus type wheels, for an underachieving quarterback.  He has fanagled his way out of grisly situations in the pocket only to have them upgraded to grim.  It is kind of like being upgraded from the middle seat of an airplane where you are pinned in between an unshowered Terrence Cody and a sickly Andre Smith, only to find that the witch at the check-in counter put you next to the family of John and Kate plus 8 (TLC reality show that follows the hellish life of a couple trying to raise twins and sextuplets. God Bless'em!) For Wilson, I expect his play this year will be dependent upon a healthy offensive line and productive(definition-having the power of producing; generative; creative: a productive effort See Alabama circa 1999) running attack.  We shall see.

The defense struggled to put much pressure on Tulane quarterback Kevin Moore and gave up countless short-to-medium routes.  With a huge dropoff in defensive line productivity from the Clemson game, it is no wonder that Rolando McClain and Don'ta Hightower(true freshman) combined for 25 tackles. Terrence Cody didn't get nearly the push on the Tulane offensive line as he did against Clemson.  Overrall, I thought the Tulane center did an outstanding job fending off the big man.  Cody obviously has stamina issues which should come as no surprise.  As long as the Bama defense keeps teams out of the endzone, the offense should(you never know with this team) be able to put enough points on the board to win some close ball games this year.

The proverbial Crimson Tide is out this week, but you never know when it might be coming back in. Oh yea, I have a message for Sports Illustrated:  For the love of God, please don't put Bama on your cover until they win a national championship.  It is like cheating on a test and having your teacher brag to the whole class about you getting an A.  You appear smart to your class, only to be exposed the next test when the Chinese guy is absent and you have nobody to cheat off of.  Not to say Bama can't get an A on the final exam this year, but they just need to put in the work(win) to get on the honor roll.