11 October 2009
While coming back from Oxford last night, every discussion that was had in the vehicle centered on just how much Alabama dominated Ole Miss. A look at the score doesn't really tell the story, though. When you see 22-3, a 19 point differential, the word domination typically doesn't come to mind. If you saw the game, though, I don't know that you could describe it any other way.
Here are some thoughts from the game:
***** I think the two teams could still be playing on Sunday and Ole Miss would yet to score a touchdown. The Rebels found a couple of plays that worked in the second half, but the first half was as dominant as any half of football that I've ever seen - and that includes the 34-13 win over Miami in the Sugar Bowl.
Ole Miss had 19 yards of total offense in the first half, with five of those coming on two rushing plays that closed the half. Bama was in the dime defense preventing a big play. The four yard run on second down of that possession was the third longest play of the half for the Rebels. Four yards.... third best play of the half. Damn.
At the half the Tide had five players who had accounted for more yards than Ole Miss - Mark Ingram, Greg McElroy, Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, and Colin Peek. Hell, prior to those to rushing plays to close the half Alabama had more points (16) than Ole Miss had total yards (15).
Of the 22 plays that Ole Miss ran in the first half, six gained yards. The other 16 either went for zero or negative yards, including two interceptions. Jevan Snead completed just two passes in the first half; which means he had two completions to Ole Miss and two completions to Alabama.
It doesn't get more dominating than that.
***** While the game yesterday possibly put an end to the "Greg McElroy for Heisman" talk, it should probably get Tide fans started on a campaign for Mark Ingram. He now has 659 rushing yards on the season, with an average carry of 5.99 yards per. Throw in his 17 receptions for 163 yards (9.58 per), and you get a total of 822 yards in six games. That total comes up to 137 yards per game.
That number gets even more impressive when you realize that he carried the ball just ten times against Florida International, and eight times against North Texas. He's put up those impressive numbers despite not playing full games in Bama's two cupcake affairs. That means he's putting up huge numbers despite the fact that his coaching staff isn't directly trying to give him huge numbers. That's tough to do.
And if the yards aren't good enough for you, there is also the matter of 10 total touchdowns - seven rushing and three receiving. He leads the Tide in rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions (tied with Peek), and receiving touchdowns. One guy leading any team in that many categories is impressive. When that team is the #2 team in the nation, and the #17 total offense team in the country, it's even more impressive.
I don't think Mark has a real shot at winning the award this season, because I don't think the coaches are ever going to put his Heisman campaign ahead of winning football games. Had that been their interest, he likely would have stayed in the game for another four minutes yesterday, and Bama probably would have snapped an extra few plays, with the sole inent of getting him over 200 yards.
***** Of course, if "Heisman" had been on the mind of Bama coaches, Mark probably would have gotten a few more carries inside the five yard line, and that likely would have been a good thing.
I've been a big fan of Jim McElwain's play calling this year, but I was unclear exactly what Bama was trying to do on offense yesterday, especially inside the five yard line. I get that Ole Miss has a good front seven, and that the Rebels were loading nine guys into the box. But Bama averaged 4.9 yards per rush.
Give me the Tide's goal line package with Alfred McCullough as an extra tackle, with Colin Peek on one end, and Preston Dial and Terrence Cody in the backfield ahead of Ingram, and I like the Tide's chances of getting five yards on four plays against any defense in college football.
If Bama had punched in just two of those red zone opportunities where they settled for a field goal, the score would have been 30-3. That looks a little more dominating.
Really, though, it doesn't matter. A 6-3 win would have gotten the job done, so I'm just being nit-picky here. But I would like to see Bama do what it does best when the Tide gets down near the goal line. And when you consider that Mark Ingram has 22 total touchdowns in 20 career games, that means giving #22 the football.
***** For the fifth time in six games, Marquis Johnson had a really good football game. After being the go-to guy for folks who wanted something to bitch about on the Alabama team, Marquis has quietly put together a really solid first half, only struggling against Virginia Tech. He's certainly getting a lot of help from a defensive front that is actually getting pressure on the quarterback, but I think it's time for some Bama fans to give credit to a guy that deserves some.
***** Kickoff coverage still worries me. After Bama got up 16-0, I was almost ready to advocate that Bama take a knee on four straight plays near the goal line, so that Ole Miss would be forced to go the length of the field. The Rebels never broke the huge return to get them back in the game, but a couple of them were longer than I wanted to see in a game where the Rebel offense had no chance to move the length of the field to score.
***** According to sources at LSU at the time, Nick Saban recommended that the Tigers hire Houton Nutt to replace him. You can see why. Forget the score for a minute, and compare the way that Ole Miss finished the game compared to how other teams finished their blowout games against the Tide.
The Rebels never looked like they had given up. They never looked like they were ready for the game to end. They played hard football all the way to the final whistle. And they never showed the type of frustration that poorly coached teams show. It doesn't much after you've been whipped, but Houston Nutt gained some respect for me for the way his team took their beating and just kept playing hard.
We'll have more coverage of the game later in the week, as well as our normal reports on Tide practice leading up to Saturday's 6:45 Homecoming kickoff against South Carolina.
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