Blog Entry

Back from the Georgia Dome

Posted on: September 7, 2009 11:01 am
I just got back from Atlanta, where I attended my first Bama game since the 1993 Southern Miss game.  Some things have changed in the ensuing 16 years, but overall, it was well worth the trip.

I stayed at the Ritz-Carleton, which was fantastic.  The service and amenities were above and beyond my Motel 6 taste.  When I called down for a plunger to unplug the vomit filled toilet, they refused to give me one but sent a concierge up to perform the unpleasant task.  Needless to say, I embarrassingly tipped him handsomely for his efforts.

Our seats were in the nosebleed section in the corner of the Bama endzone, 5 rows from the top.  I was on the VT side, but there were as many Bama fans in our section as VT fans.  Both were thankfully well-behaved.  Still, the view was good except for anything beyond the far 20 yd line.  Gotta love the Jumbotron.  I don't know if it the sound reflecting off the all to near ceiling or if it was stadium wide, but the noise was deafening.  I could barely hear our band playing, and the VT band not at all.

The fans have changed over the years.  95% are well-bahaved and classy, but the 5% are more verbal and in your face.  I saw this more after the game from our fans than from the VT fans.  Nothing in the manner of LSU, but a few instances of drunken smack that brought nothing to the discussion.

Some random observations on our play:

  • We racked up 498 yds on a good defense.  This is kind of a catch-22.  If they gave up 498 yds, are they really a good defense?
  • McElroy played superb after a shaky start.  He followed a 2 for 12 with one INT start with a 13 for 18 finish with one TD.  It seemed that after he started looking for someone other than Julio Jones, he completed more passes, which opened up the run, which led to more completions.  Kinda proves the adage that success breeds success.
  • Mark Ingram is the real deal.  I'd start the Heisman chatter if not for...
  • Roy Upchurch is a beast!  Not only was he ripping off huge chunks of yardage, he was looking for defenders to whom to mete out bone-jarring punishment.  If he hadn't been benched for fumbling, he may have had more yards than Ingram.  He's gonna push Ingram for playing time and they may be Bama's first 1000yd tandem backfield.
  • The defense played superb.  Subtract our penalties, and VT scores only 10.  Subtract our turnovers and KO lapses, and they're shutout. 
  • We contained and harassed Tyrod all night.  He only beat us twice (1 pass, 1 run) due to his mobility, both resulted in gains of less than 15 yards.
  • Rolando's leadership.  He crawled up one side of Marquis Johnson and down the other when he blew the coverage on Williams long pass play.  His frustration with Johnson led directly to the personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties tha gave VT a touchdown.
  • Lee Tiffin.  He missed one, but he made four, including a 49 yarder.  I'll take 80% success from a kicker anyday
  • Penalties.  We gave them 14 points on penalties.  If this were an SEC game, we'd have lost
  • KO coverage.  See above if this were a SEC game
  • Throwing on 3rd and 1 from midfield.  Hopefully it was just an attempt to catch them off-guard and not an indication of our inability to play smashmouth.
  • Red zone offense.  Five field goal attempts is not indicative of a team that has the toughness to punch it in.  We'll lose an SEC game if we don't improve
  • Secondary breakdowns.  Blown assignments in the secondary led to both of Williams long gains (pas and run).
  • Loss of composure.  McClain's penalties led directly to a VT score.  He was lucky he wasn't ejected from the game.  I'm not sure we won't see a conference or team suspension resulting from him knocking the ref's arm away.
  • Penalties.  It merits mentioning twice
Overall, it was a great game and validates our pre-season ranking.  Our strengths developed late and our weaknesses were mostly confined to the first half, which I interpret to mean we were learning and correcting as the game progressed.  I hope we'll refine our skills and apply the lessons learned over the coming games against lesser opponents.
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