Posted on: September 7, 2009 11:01 am

Back from the Georgia Dome

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.
Posted on: September 3, 2009 4:11 pm

Going to Atlanta

Headin' down to Atlanta tonight for Saturday's game.  I'm going with 3 VT fans and another Bama fan (my daughter).  The VT fan riding with me is in a no win situation.  He has to listen to my mouth the entire trip if Bama wins, or find himself stranded in Atlanta with no ride back if Bama loses.

This is the first Bama game I've attended since the 1993 Souther Miss game and I'm super excited.  I can't wait to start yelling Rammer Jammer and Roll Tide Roll.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 6, 2009 8:47 pm

The differences between Coach Bryant and Urban Me

Mike Bianchi of he Orlando Sentinel recently anointed Urban Meyer as the "2nd coming of Bear Bryant" and inferred that he was Bryant's superior in ability.  Rejecting the inclination to question the judgment and character of so insidious a blasphemer, I thought I'd list a few of the differences that come to mind.

323 victories vs. 83 victories

38 seasons as a head coach vs. 8

37 winning seasons vs. 8

6 NC vs. 2

Every opposing coach respected Coach Bryant.  Some disliked him, but few, if any despised him.  The opposite seems true for Urban Meyer.  To put his stature in perspective; can you conceive a coach treating Coach Bryant the way Lane Kiffin has treated Urban Meyer?

Coach Bryant never sobbed openly after a loss (UF-LSU 2005) or wept silently (UF-Bama 2005).  There's no crying in the SEC, and I'm sure Coach Bryant rolled uncomfortably in his grave when he saw Urban's display.

Coach Bryant was raised by his mother (his father was an invalid) in heart-rending poverty in Moro Bottom, AR.  Urban Meyer was raised in an upper middle-class (private school, trips to Europe) family with an active and athletically involved father.  There is no fault in Urban for enjoying the advantages of his birth, but the hardships that Coach Bryant spited served him well in later years (see Wally Butts travesty).  He knew he could handle anything life threw at him.  Does Urban have the breadth of experience to persevere during hardship?  Not having been tested, does he know beforehand that he will not be found wanting?

There are parrallels between the relationships between Coach Bryant and Pat Trammell and Urban and Tebow.  Both won their initial NC with these QB's.  Both were extremely close (the only time Coach Bryant ever wept in public was at Pat Trammell's funeral in 1968).  Again, the relative stature of the two coaches is illustrated by the many joking references to Urban's and Tebow's homosexual relationship.

No one ever accused Coach Bryant of arrogance.  I'm tempted to give Meyer a bye on this as the modern media circus surrounding CFB requires a coach to be tight-lipped and careful.  This can be mistaken for arrogance.

Coach Bryant beat the snot outta many teams.  Several times a year he would hang 60+ on a cupcake team.  Still, he never had to defend himself against the charge of running up the score.  His bench saw more playing time than his starters during these games.  He certainly never called time out
to add a meaningless score to humiliate an opponent as Meyer did against UGA.

Coach Bryant never coached a Heisman winner at UA (he had JD Crow at A&M).  Bryant certainly had the athletes, but his system of heavy substitution prevented the stats necessary for a Heisman.  I think one of the main reasons for his success was this system of substitution.  It gave younger players experience, preventing a large talent drop-off after starters graduated, and perpetuated depth.  It helped in recruiting because a player wants to play, and he knew if he came to Bama, he was gonna see significant playing time even if 3rd string (as well as play for the NC).

Coach Bryant contended late for the NC in 20 years (60-67, 71-82) at Bama as well as 1950 at UK and 1957 at A&M.  Meyer has 2 seasons of late contention (with a NC in each).

Posted on: July 29, 2009 10:36 pm

Appeal of NCAA sanctions

Good article in The Huntsville Times about the University's appeal of the NCAA's "irrational," arbitrary," and "Orwellian" sanctions.

The gist of it is that 4 other programs committed the same infractions but did not have to vacate wins.  The 4 were cited for the more serious "lack of institutional control" and not the lesser "failure to monitor" for which the University was cited.
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