Remember the fifth of November.
That date is beginning to cast a very long shadow—so long that it seemed as if the Alabama football team was caught up in it for the entire first half against Vanderbilt.
LSU is on the horizon and it's very difficult to concentrate on the tiny tasks at hand when something so large is looming.
At least, that's what I'd like to think was going on as Alabama held a slim 7-0 lead over Vanderbilt with less than 5:00 remaining in the first half.
For a few brief moments Saturday night it appeared as if the ghost of 2010 had appeared and this Alabama team thought its aura would scare lesser foes into an early surrender. If not for the inept Vanderbilt kicking game, this contest would have been separated by just a point prior to A.J. McCarron's pass-heavy drive that put Alabama up 14-0 at the half.
Was it a lack of focus?
Perhaps it was a loss of identity.
I know Alabama would love to stretch the wings of its young quarterback while it can, but when the Crimson Tide were clinging to a tiny seven-point advantage, where was Trent Richardson?
It's not a knock on Richardson, but a knock on the play calling.
Alabama has arguably the best running back in the nation, and at the half he had a puny seven carries for 32 yards. How is it acceptable that your most dangerous weapon only touched the ball seven times on the offensive side of the ball?
Nick Saban must have pointed this lapse out at the half since Alabama's first scoring drive of the second half came with a heavy dose of No. 3. The Crimson Tide marched 94 yards, 65 of them on the ground with Richardson, to virtually seal the game with a 21-0 lead.
What was most impressive about that drive was the fact that Alabama knew it was going to run it. Vanderbilt knew the Tide were going to run it, but yet it could not stop them.
As lethargic as the first half was, the second was very impressive. Despite the slow start and stuttering momentum, this team stormed back out of the locker room and finished the game.
The 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide are becoming know for their slow start but devastating ends to games.
Along the way we are seeing the maturing play of their young quarterback. McCarron produced his finest performance of the season against Vandy, despite the lapse in judgement on the first-half closing drive.
Rather than take the clear path by foot to the end zone, McCarron elected to toss up a wild throw in which true freshman wide receiver DeAndrew White resurrected his inner Julio Jones and made a circus catch to bail out his quarterback.
Finally Alabama was able to stretch the field with some long throws and would have had another had Darius Hanks not been tackled by a Commodore defender in the third quarter, resulting in a pass interference call.
After six games, the passing attack is solidifying itself. The ground game is a well oiled machine and the defense is punishing.
With two more contests remaining before Nov. 5, perhaps we should all forget that date for the time being.
Alabama has other teams to finish first.