Grant’s Note: I actually wrote this right before Texas A&M played South Carolina. More like – put the beat down on South Carolina. So right out of the gate, Carolina once again snake bits me and it looks like the Aggies aren’t going to miss a beat on offense this year. One game, a season does not make but if you’re an Aggie fan – you gotta be happy with what you saw tonight.
I have missed College Football. I have missed the NFL. I’ve missed high school football. Actually, I now live in Kansas so technically I still miss high school football. HEY HEY!!!
It’s not only the start of football but a new season of my Sports Rant posts which I know is a favorite of Randi, Lindsey, and Amy. I honestly think they almost quit reading my blog during football season. Which is a shame because it’s some of my best stuff. Honestly.
Let’s talk Alabama football for a second. A quick look in the archives shows I picked ‘Bama to go undefeated last year and make the SEC Championship game against South Carolina. I was :01 away from being right about ‘Bama. Auburn – the luckiest team on the plains – played out of their minds last season. Can they do it again? Who knows. I do know that loss still sits ugly with Tide fans everywhere – me included. I’ve finally allowed Cooper to return to sleeping in the house.
As far as South Carolina goes? Every year I think – this is the year they put it all together and every year they lose some ridiculous game they shouldn’t lose and it knocks them out of the SEC Championship. I’m picking them again to win the SEC East even though my heart is telling me to get out of this dysfunctional relationship and go with Georgia. (That prediction lasted all of a about 30 minutes.)
Yeah…like that relationship is any better.
As far as Alabama goes…as big of fan that I am of Alabama, how in the world are they ranked #2? No QB. Lost some major firepower on offensive line. No QB. Do they have a kicker yet? Or a QB? And what about special teams? The wonderful, vaunted defense may not be so wonderful. They got ripped in key games last year against hurry-up offenses. Guess what kind of offense West Virginia, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and Auburn play?
Their season hinges on the QB position and the up the middle defenders – Linebackers and safeties. SPEED KILLS, baby and those middle defenders will have to be able to play sideline to sideline against these spread, hurry-up offenses. Alabama may very well prove to be among the final 4 teams playing at the season’s end but there are plenty of question marks to start the season at #2 is a bit of a stretch in my book.
I could see this season going one of two ways. Saban finds his “game manager” QB that fires lasers when he needs to and Alabama runs the ball down everyone’s throats and plays incredible defense on their way to an undefeated season (the schedule is pretty favorable) and is sitting pretty for the SEC Championship and a playoff berth.
Or it could be the kind of train wreck season that sends half the state of Alabama into depression. If Alabama’s inexperience on defense is exposed and neither one of the QBs workout – LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn games become track meets that Alabama can’t run in and all of a sudden they are looking at a 9-3 season and a trip to the Champ Sports Bowl in Orlando. (Which means I might have a chance of actually going to the game.)
I think ‘Bama fans would be well served if they hoped for the best, prepare for the worst.
Let’s look at the schedule.
August 30: West Virginia Mountaineers (in Atlanta) – W
At one time this would have been a great matchup. It isn’t anymore. WV plays an upbeat offense that gives Alabama problems but does anybody really think WV can go 4 quarters with anybody let alone Alabama? The real drama is what QB will be starting for Alabama and will that be the same QB that finishes.
September 6: Florida Atlantic Owls – W
Gosh, I hate these games. Why? And I get that these games help these smaller schools make their budget and keeps them floating. So I’ll give schools a pass for playing one of these teams but…
September 13: Southern Miss Golden Eagles – W
Two? Southern Miss had a very good program until about 2011. They would average 10/11 wins a season. Think Appalachian State or North Dakota State – very capable of upsetting any team. Not anymore. I think they’ve won 2 games in the last 2 seasons.
September 20: Florida Gators
Remember when this game was MUST WATCH TV? Muschamp is coaching for his life and Florida will be better than what they were but even if Alabama’s QB situation is a mess, Alabama should walk away from this one with a win.
October 4: at Ole Miss Rebels – W
Here’s where it can really go sideways. It’s at Ole Miss. They want to play fast. If they get scoring points AND Alabama has to shoot it out with them aka A&M game of ’13 AND the QB situation is still a mess AND the defense is still confused – this could be an upset that gets exaggerated to Biblical proportions by ESPN and the SEC Network calling for the head of Saban and the decline of human civilization as we know it.
October 11: at Arkansas Razorbacks – W
Arkansas..where have you gone? Can you believe that this game was once a feared game on the schedule? A game you dare not ever overlook or do so at your own peril. This isn’t that Arkansas. Maybe again someday.
October 18: Texas A&M Aggies – W
A&M is another team that is trotting out a new QB. They will have to reinvent themselves a bit this year and no one is quite sure what to expect. We know Sumlin is going to put points on the board but unless that defensive unit is massively improved, his margin of error just shrunk about 80%. Does he have a gunslinger that make up for that swiss cheese defense?
October 25: at Tennessee Volunteers – W
Another year, another Tennessee meltdown. They played better last year, I think they need another year before they put teams on upset alert.
November 8: at LSU Tigers – W
There are two reasons to pick Alabama in this game. 1. LSU is trying to find a new QB and who do you trust the least in finding a QB out of these three – Les Miles, Nick Saban, Kevin Sumlin? Hands down it’s Les Miles. 2. It’s LSU. Everyone hates LSU. Even LSU fans hate LSU. In all seriousness, this game could be a train wreck for either team. Bad QB play plus failure on defense against rival team who has found their QB and defense is coming together. And LSU/Bama could be on either side of that equation.
November 15: Mississippi State Bulldogs – W
Mississippi State has sort of taken over the role Arkansas used to play. Win about 8 games and be annoying good in the other games but not quite good enough to get over the hump.
November 22: Western Carolina Catamounts – W
And that makes 3 CUPCAKES on the schedule. It’s just…disheartening. I know why they are here. While Saban has voted to add another conference game to the schedule, nobody else has and he’s not going to add another killer non-conference game since the rest of the SEC doesn’t.
November 29: Auburn Tigers – W
Alabama will either be 9-2 or undefeated at this point. Not that any of that will matter this year when these two square off. Get ready for some hilarious signage and major hype if both teams come into this undefeated again. The entire state may just explode from awesomeness if that happens. Auburn is replacing some incredible lineman and RB’s from last year’s team so it’s not like they are returning the same team.
So I’ve got them going undefeated but all of this is because I’m hopeful that one of these two QBs are as advertised. But it could just as easily end as a 9-3 season.
Roll Tide and let the games begin.