First off, a little levity because we need it.
When I said I liked getting choked I didn’t mean by bama— gym dawg (@dawgwholifts) December 5, 2021
If I wasn’t already married, I think I’d just buy a ring, find that gym and take my chances...
I began writing this at 5:30 A.M., with a few edits here ‘n there in between cleaning out my garage and stringing Christmas lights. Not much sleep, but I don’t sleep anyway. The narrative on what transpired yesterday is already brutal, and deserved.
1. First off, congrats to Alabama. As great as Bryce Young played on Saturday, I think you have to credit whatever wizard sprinkled wizard-dust on their offensive line because what was supposed to be a major weakness was the strength of their entire game. Our entire defensive game plan was predicated upon pressuring Young, a la Auburn, and their O-line simply stoned everyone for most of the day.
1B. Where do Alabama keep finding these quarterbacks? Is there some secret laboratory on some isolated Pacific island where these things are created and somehow find their way to Tuscaloosa, and delivered on a bass boat coming up the Black Warrior River under cover or darkness?
2. We have so many questions as to what happened to our ability to affect their QB. Was it Alabama’s scheme, or are we not as good up front as we thought we were? I doubt this. Our guys played hard, but everything prior to yesterday that worked: twists, stunts, etc. just ended up being a mish-mash of blocked rushers that never made Young uncomfortable.
3. Having said the above, when we did begin to rush more than 4 (after Bama’s last offensive touchdown), we were able to pressure Young into some rushed throws and several consecutive 3-and-outs.
4. This was a systemic defensive failure and the most calamitous 2nd quarter of “defensive” football in a year where I didn’t think this could happen. Anomalous? I hope so. I’d like to think it was just fixable miscommunication that got us burnt so many times for so many points...
Points allowed by Georgia in the entire month of November: 30— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 5, 2021
Points allowed by Georgia in the SEC Championship: 41 pic.twitter.com/zxBjzaUmEG
5. ...but then whatever was said at the half to the defensive backfield surely didn’t resonate as Bama struck quickly coming out of the half. In reality, that was the ballgame right there. We got exposed in the one area that showed signs of being a weakness during our 12-0 run.
6. The early returns on moving the football were promising. We were running effectively and getting James Cook on the edge, Zamir White on some hard runs in the middle. This could only hold up if we keep Alabama’s offense off the field and force their defense to play.
7. I can’t say enough about Brock Bowers. I hope the Mackey Award folks had as bad a bout of indigestion last night as I did. Ten receptions for 139 yards and a score would have been good enough for the game’s leading receiver if Alabama’s Jameson Williams had not gone “Super Mario” with 7 balls for 184 yards and 2 scores.
There’s your Mackey Award winner, sans the actual award...
8. I knew this would put a little pep in Nick Saban’s step. Of course it did. Rat Poison. It’s real and it’s spectacular.
9. About our quarterback situation. Look, my love for Stetson Bennett hasn’t diminished. Yours might have, and that’s fine. However, he struggles when a game like this calls for more. Bennett went 29 of 48 for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns...and 2 very bad picks. The first pick was a drive-killer when the outcome was still not decided. His 2nd was the end. This can’t happen, not on this stage. We’ve got another chance (I think) coming up in about 4 weeks, and 4 weeks to figure some things out from a personnel standpoint. I suspect this will dominate the interwebs from now until December 31.
10. Having said that, Stetson Bennett did not cost us this game. That falls squarely on the defense, but Bennett is not the QB who can win a shoot out, which is exactly what this game devolved into after our 2nd quarter defensive disaster. Third and long is killing us. It would’ve been worse had Bama not committed 83 pass interference penalties. That’s an attempt at levity, BTW...
Here’s a telling statistic from tonight…— Graham Coffey (@DawgOutWest) December 5, 2021
Stetson Bennett when pressured: 1/10, 11 YDS, 1 INT
Stetson Bennett when kept clean: 28/38, 329 YDS, 3 TD/1 INT, 4
11. It was great seeing George Pickens back and being effective, however limited. I don’t think he asked to run too many routes that would cause undo torque on his knee. His 37-yard reception reminded us all how great #1 is as he perfectly adjusted and out jumped 2 defenders. Perhaps he continues to get healthy enough in time for the first-round of the playoffs to become a real difference maker. We’ll need him.
12. Ladd McConkey’s 32-yard score was the culmination of our best drive of the day. Jermaine Burton had 3 receptions, mostly in traffic. A.D. Mitchell has regressed in my opinion. He’s young, but for the 2nd week in a row on essentially the same quick-in route he didn’t come up with a catchable ball. He caught a single pass for 8 yards on the day.
13. Jake Camarda was excellent on punts, including a 68 yard cannon shot. Jack Podlesny seems to have his mojo back as he was perfect on the day, connecting with a 38 yard field goal and 3x3 on extra points. Bama punted 5 times and Kearis Jackson only had 6 return yards. This has been a disappointing aspect of special teams all year.
14. Zero sacks. None. Four tackles for loss. That’s it.
15. Wins are great, but when you lose you tend to learn more more about yourself. For the first time all season, what needs fixing is clear.
Where do we go from here? How does this team respond? A lot of those locker room “leaders” didn’t play so well themselves, so how do those guys respond? And odds are, assuming we can get through the first round - certainly not a given - that same damn 5,000 lb. elephant will be waiting for us once again. This coaching staff is once again under the microscope - especially Kirby Smart. This has become a psychological hurdle every bit as real as the Spurrier/Urban Meyer issues we had with Florida.
We get Michigan down here in south Florida. I might try to rustle up a couple of tickets, but right now I’m just too deflated to do anything but eat ice cream.
There is a lot to digest from yesterday - way too many for these “15 Thoughts” to cover. Fire away in your comments.
This team of ours isn’t terrible. They’re actually pretty damn good. We just played terribly for the first time all year on the biggest stage. Perhaps some good will come from it.
“It didn’t do any damage. What it did is reinvigorated our energy. It recenters you, right? Their greatest thing is when they lost their game against Texas A&M, they garnered some focus and some attention. To me, that’s an opportunity for a wakeup call, if anything.” - Kirby Smart on the team’s psyche and if there is any damage incurred.
Right now, nothing is good. Not the coffee I had earlier, not my sleep last night, not my long-as-hell upcoming work week, and not my ability to enjoy anything at the moment. I take these things pretty hard. This will eventually fade, but for now it hurts. I hope we fix some things. I really hope we can redeem ourselves. We do, at least, get that chance and that is a good thing. Beat Michigan.
That’s all I’ve got.