In case you haven't noticed, in the words of Wayne and Garth, it is definitely "Game On!" for this weekend's matchup against the Crimson Tide.
- Some Alabama players have trumpeted their own gridiron virtue by contrasting their style to that displayed in a game we won last year that they didn't even play in (if you're scoring at home, the Tide were off the weekend of the Cocktail Party, while preparing to embark on a losing streak that would have made Mike Shula woozy).
- Like every strength and conditioning coach I've ever met, Alabama dumbbell manager Scott Cochran has trouble expressing his excitement without expletives.
- Nick Saban's modeling the latest in "Bama's Black!!!" attire, and Evil Richt has emerged from his lair beneath the Butts-Mehre Building.
- College Gameday is coming to our Cit-aaay, where two top ten teams will face off in primetime with the winner solidifying it's hopes of being in the National Championship discussion during the meat of the conference season.
It really would be impossible for me to get you any more jacked up for this game than you already are. So, instead, I'm going to do something that I don't usually do on Cocktail Thursday. Instead of focusing on a player or unit who will need to perform, I'm going to focus on the team's overall mindset.
There are some outstanding units that will battle during Saturday's game. It starts in the pressbox, where Kirby Smart and Mike Bobo know each others' tendencies, philosophies and personel very, very well. Many forget that it was Smart who recruited a talented running back to Athens back in 2006 by the name of Knowshon Rockwell Moreno. Our offense against their defense is going to be a chessmatch.
All eyes are also going to be on the matchup of the freshman receivers, A.J. Green and Alabama's Julio Jones. Jones got the nod from many as the top recruit in the country last season, but so far it's Green who's put up the superior numbers. Jones will be a matchup problem for our corners, and it will be interesting to see how much Green's emergence opens up the running game and the underneath passing attack. If the teams' rushing offense and defense trends hold up, this one could come down to who makes a big play in the passing game. I'm looking at you, J.P. Wilson. You'd know that if you'd brush the hair out of your eyes.
There's also the mixed weightclass bout between Alabama's large defensive front (including 375-ish pound DT Terrance Cody) and the slippery tailback who'll be wearing #24. I very much like the idea of Knowshon out in space against Alabama's defense, but we'll talk more about that tomorrow.
But when it comes right down to it, Saturday's game is just going to be about proving that, man for man, we're just a better football team. Alabama comes in with a lot of swagger, hyped up like they've been financing Jimmy Johns' education, and believing that they cannot lose. More and more, I think this is a game that will not be close on the field. Though the score may tell a different story, one way or the other, one team is going to lay an emotional stomping on the other.
I'm talking about the kind of savage, primal beating that leaves a mark. The kind that is emblematic of SEC football. I not only want us to beat Alabama, I want us to, as the old saying goes: "steal their supper, go dancing with their best girl, and drink all their whiskey so they can't forget what happened. "
And their whiskey, at least nominally, is Clyde May's Conecuh Ridge Whiskey. It's not a bourbon, but a 90 proof mash whiskey which is the state spirit of Alabama. That's appropriate because, like Alabama football, Conecuh Ridge has a past as checkered as a houndstooth hat full of $100 bills. We kid, 'Bama fans, because we like you! At least more than your neighbors from Terry Bowden's School of Creative Roster Financing.
Admittedly, this is largely a symbolic gesture, because if you can put your hands on a bottle of Conecuh Ridge, you'd be the first I know of. The stuff ain't cheap ($40+ a bottle) or plentiful (I'm not certain that it's even still sold in Alabama, though earlier this year it was available in North Carolina). But it's the thought that really counts, after all. Unlike Alabama grads, many of whom couldn't count past 12 if Jeremy Elder held a gun to their heads. Again, we kid, Crimson people. We know you can count at least to 21, because we read your message boards after the Louisiana-Monroe game last year.
In all seriousness, here's to a hard fought game between two proud programs. For the Alabama fans coming to Athens, we hope you have a great time until 7:50 rolls around. And if you have any of Clyde May's stuff, how 'bout you bring it with you? Back tonight with the somewhat delayed Nick Saban unofficial bio. Until then . . .