Friday, January 8, 2010

Boom goes the dynamite

I guess I should start by congratulating Alabama, your 2009-10 national champions. As good as I think Boise State is, I know 'Bama is deserving of the national title. The Tide will probably be a unanimous No. 1 when the final polls are released in the morning.

As for the game, I don't know what to say. It was wild, unpredictable and incredibly unfortunate, and there are a million different things I could write about. I'm just gonna break it all down into bullets to try to be as coherent as possible.

Here we go ...

* What a terrible, terrible way for Colt McCoy's career to come to an end. After playing four years for a shot at the national championship, he finally gets his chance ... and he gets knocked out of the game on Texas' fifth play from scrimmage. You could tell in his postgame interview that he was fighting to hold back tears, and I can't blame him. Sometimes life just isn't fair.

* Mack Brown should have read my preview:
... after the Nebraska debacle -- McCoy had 17 carries for minus-20 yards as Texas accumulated 18 rushing yards as a team -- I doubt Mack Brown will even bother with having McCoy run into the teeth of the nation's second-ranked rushing defense and get drilled repeatedly by Cody and Rolando McClain.
When McCoy went down, the game was all but over. Texas' confidence was gone and the offense disappeared for the next two and a half quarters; by the time they recovered, it was too late.

* Garrett Gilbert's performance in the first half was unspeakably bad: He was 1-for-10 for minus-4 yards with two interceptions, giving him a QB rating of minus-33.36 at halftime. His deer-in-the-headlights look brought back fond memories of the "boom goes the dynamite" kid. But when the light bulb went on at some point in the third quarter, he actually made things interesting by leading a comeback I never thought was possible against Alabama's defense. Texas will miss McCoy a lot, but the offense should be in good hands for the next few years.

* All the praise for Alabama was legit. The defense controlled the game for all but about a 10-minute stretch starting late in the third quarter, and while Greg McElroy didn't look a whole lot better than Garrett Gilbert, he didn't need to. The running game was awesome, racking up 205 yards against the nation's top-ranked rush defense. Texas hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher all year, yet both Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson reached that number while scoring two touchdowns apiece. Alabama physically dominated on both sides.

* There were some verrrry odd coaching decisions, starting with Nick Saban's call for a fake punt on the opening drive. I'm all about fake punts, but that deep in your own territory? And asking your punter to throw deep to a covered gunner? Strange. And then there was the backbreaker for Texas: Mack Brown taking a timeout with 30 seconds left in the first half, then calling for a shovel/screen pass that resulted in a devastating interception return for a touchdown that gave Alabama a 24-6 lead. If the Horns had just taken a knee and gone into the half down 17-6, the ending might have been a lot different.

* Alabama should probably spend some time in spring practice on fielding kickoffs. One mix-up is understandable, but there's no excuse for just giving the ball away with excellent field position twice in the national championship game.

* Kirk Herbstreit has some serious jinxing ability. Just as the words "Texas hasn't allowed a sack all night" came out of his mouth, Alabama outside linebacker Eryk Anders came flying around the edge and crushed Gilbert from behind, forcing the game-clinching fumble. I'm sure Texas fans were thrilled.

* Nick Saban must be a miserable person, which is remarkable for a guy who makes $4 million a year and has an awesome job. When defensive lineman Marcell Dareus rumbled into the endzone to complete his spectacular, game-changing interception return late in the first half, Saban was FURIOUS!!! Why? Because Dareus had thrown the ball in celebration, resulting in a meaningless 15-yard penalty. And when the game had been decided and the Gatorade bath came calling, Saban looked like the grumpy old guy who yells at kids to get off his lawn. At this point, I'm not sure he's physically capable of smiling.

* Assuming that Saban doesn't commit suicide or leave for the NFL, Alabama is gonna be an absolute juggernaut for the foreseeable future. The defense will take some hits next year -- the entire starting defensive line (including ginormous nose tackle Terrence Cody) and All-American corner Javier Arenas will be out of eligibility and stud linebacker Rolando McClain is probably headed to the NFL -- but with Saban's track record, I don't expect a huge drop-off. And the offense loses a total of three starters: guard Mike Johnson, right tackle Drew Davis and tight end Colin Peek. McElroy is a junior, Ingram is a sophomore, Richardson is a freshman, Julio Jones is a sophomore, Marquis Maze is a sophomore ... and so on.

* I mentioned this a while back, but it's worth repeating: In two years at Alabama, Saban has brought in a ridiculous 40 four- or five-star recruits, which is 10 more than either USC or Florida has signed in that time. The wave of talent has no end in sight. With the uncertainty of the Urban Meyer situation at Florida and the allegations swirling at USC, 'Bama might have just taken the torch as college football's next dynasty.

1 comment:

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