It's Almost Football Time In Alabama

Douglas WebbCorrespondent IAugust 28, 2009

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 15:  Mark Ingram #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide carries the ball during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 15, 2008 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Summer hangs on showing no intent of giving way to the mild fall days we think of when we dream of college football. Still, while the dog days of summer may hold on for a few weeks longer, the 2009 Alabama season is little more than a week away.

The Tide will take a talented, and for the most part battle tested team, and head east out interstate 20 to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies at the Georgia Dome.

For the second season in a row Alabama will open against a team considered the odds on favorite to walk away with the ACC crown.

Both teams will likely experience a few opening game jitters though neither is likely to look as inept as the Clemson team the Tide faced in last years opener.

You have to give both programs credit for having the guts to step up against top 10 competition while most other teams have chosen to schedule the likes of the East Bumbleturd Girls School for The Blind.

The game will feature two of college football's best coaches in Frank Beamer and Nick Saban. Both are favorites of Alabama AD Mal Moore for sure. He attempted to hire Beamer several times unsuccessfully during the plethora of coaching changes at Alabama.

It took him multiple tries during the most recent coaching search before he could finally convince Saban to accept the position. In the time that has passed, Alabama football fans have witnessed an amazing transformation of the product they see.

Whether it's on the football field or on the recruiting trail the Tide is light years beyond where they were at upon his arrival.

Both teams will travel to the busy and mostly indifferent city of Atlanta to the tight confines of the Georgia Dome where for at least 4 quarters everything happening outside it's thin, membrane roof will cease to matter.

The Tide will come into the Dome with a veteran defense capable of causing significant damage to opposing skill players. The Tide's linebackers alone rank among some of the most talented in Alabama history.

That says a lot for a school that produced the likes of Cornelius Bennett and Derrick Thomas.

"You'd better pass" was of course one of the most famous lines ever uttered in Alabama football history. It would not be very wise advice to give the Virginia Tech offense that Saturday night.

Now there are two reasons for my logic, or lack thereof depending on which side of the fence your reading this from. One, Alabama has a strong pass defense. The Tide returns three starters from last years squad including both starting corners.

The second is that the Hokies passing game inhales rapidly through pursed lips.

Yes, I know that Virginia Tech fans are high on much hyped quarterback Tyrod Taylor. I've heard the spiel on how much improved their wide receivers will be this season. I'm sure the same song or one very close to it was sang by Tech fans last year and the year before that...

Taylor has proved many times over what a wonderful athlete he is, what he hasn't proved is that he's a quarterback.

No, to win this game the Hokies will have to stick to their bread and butter on offense, running the football. That brings both good news and bad.

The good news is Virginia Tech returns one of the most experienced offensive lines, starts wise, in the nation. Despite an injury to their starting tailback they do have three talented tailbacks vying to be his replacement. As discussed earlier Taylor is a marvelous athlete that can do some serious damage once he gets into the open field.

The bad news is they won't be able to run the ball either.

As experienced as their starting offensive line is, their second team has little or no game experience. Their first team will eventually get tired from getting leaned on by a bigger, deeper, and more experienced Alabama line.

Their running backs, as talented as they appear, have a total of 39 carries at the college level between them. All of those belong to sophomore Shawn Oglesby with the other two backs being freshman.

The Hokies do have a "wildcat" package featuring their 285 pound senior tightend. In all honesty though he'd probably be better having saved his energy for run blocking.

So how can Virginia Tech win the ball game? The same way they always do with defense and special teams. The Tide must take special care in limiting turnovers both on offense and special teams. Fumbles, interceptions or blocked kicks are the one thing that could turn what should be an Alabama win, into a loss.

Then again Javvy Arenas could just as likely return a punt or two for a score. Sooner or later you know they're going to let Julio loose on kick off returns and a couple of stiff arms later some defenders are going to feel awfully silly.

Then after a few renditions of Rammer Jammer have reverberated there way through the rafters of the Georgia Dome. Echoing spookily thanks to the many empty seats surrendered earlier in the quarter by retreating Hokie fans. The time clock will finally show zeros.

Both coaches will jog out to midfield amidst throngs of the celebratory and the humbled. Saban and Beamer will exchange pleasantries and condolences. Immediately afterwards Saban will be subjected by the network to give in to one of those post game interviews. Up will walk some cute little thing who as smart as she may be, would probably be much better off at home doing her husbands laundry and making him a chicken pot pie for supper.

The crowd at home watching the game on tv will be placing bets as to whether Saban will actually bite Suzie Newzie's head off or just make her cry for asking such stupid questions.

The winning crowd will wonder out of the Georgia Dome still basking in the glow of victory. The summer day will have given way to a balmy evening that with any luck, and a northeast breeze, will be just enough to fool those Bama fans celebrating the start to a championship season, that just perhaps...

Fall had arrived for them anyway.


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