Here are the three things that I’m NOT worried about Saturday:
1) Night Games. Saturday’s kickoff will be 7:30 pm on SEC Alternate network. This will be 3 games in a row for the Classic City Canines to contest a game under the lights, and we’re 2-0 so far. To be accurate, we’re 2-0 against teams we were supposed to beat and were ranked higher than entering the game. We’re 2-0 with Jake Fromm playing in the first quarter. We’re 2-0 with at least 40,000 fans wearing Red & Black in the stands. We’re 2-0 after sunset, so I’m personally glad we’re keeping up with what works.
2) Spike and Rex, Samford University mascots. I respect a Bulldog in most every form. But honestly, I don’t know who is who. It’s like the HGTV Property Brothers (one wears a suit), or my neighbor’s twin girls (one walks on my lawn too much), or Chip and Chad Kelley – I never can tell them apart. A Google search only gave me links to Pinterest, so I promptly ignored them. I think I’ll take Uga and Hairy Dawg. Every. Damn. Day.
3) Samford Passing Game. These guys can sling it. Head Coach Chris Hatcher has been known to develop tremendous passing offenses (he threw for over 11,000 yards in college himself). In his first full year at Samford, the Bama Bulldogs averaged over 332 yards a game, then improved that to over 349 yards a game last season. The former Mount De Sales Cavalier now has his system fully entrenched. But Junior QB Devlin Hodges hasn’t seen the pass rush our boys have displayed this season, nor the sideline to sideline linebacker pursuit, nor the aggressive secondary coverage. Even though Hodges set school records last year, call me crazy, I’m not worried about the Samford passing game.
Here are the three things that I AM worried about Saturday:
1) Looking ahead to Mississippi State. Which is another night game, which I’m fine with. Which is one against a talented Quarterback, which I’m fine with. Which is contested against even more Bulldogs (which does bother me some). A conference opener, which I can’t wait for. But Kirby Smart’s squad better wait for it. As in don’t even mention it until after midnight Saturday. Focus on this week’s Bulldogs. These from the Alabama version of Mercer. These coached by a boy born and raised in the State of Georgia. These who can wreck a season, spoil a dream, and get your sweet fanny run out of town. That is who our team needs to be focused on.
2) Penalties. A lot has been made of the 12 infractions last week (roughly equivalent to our 2017 passing yardage per game average). First the blame was on the refs (damn SEC crew). Then it was attributed to undisciplined players (did they actually run the stadium steps as punishment?). Now, after a cooling off period, it is generally being chalked up to aggressive, tone-setting defensive play. All I know is it kept Notre Dame drives alive, negated a couple of big plays by us, and this is living on the edge (Molly Hatchet’s Flirting With Disaster is probably more apropos). We got away with it, we won in spite of it. I just worry it’s going to bite us where we sit.
3) The Samford Bulldog Rushing Defense. This is an FCS team. One that is currently giving up over 530 yards of offense to their opponent this season, and gave up over 420 yards on average last season, and 419.6 the year before that. The rushing defense isn’t exactly stellar either: 175 yard average through 2 games so far, 211 yard average on the ground last year, and 221 yards on the ground in 2015-16. This against fellow FCS competition (with Prescott’s Miss St and Louisville thrown in). If we don’t take advantage and run these guys absolutely ragged with toss sweeps, off tackle runs, RPOs out of the pistol, draws, and Chubb straight up the gut… well, I just don’t know what I’ll do.
What worries you about Saturday’s Bulldogs vs. Bulldogs? Leave it in the comments below, and as always…