I certainly get all the Derrick Henry talk, but for all that, he’s not the guy on Alabama’s offense who concerns me the most.
That would be this dude.
[TE O.J.] Howard leads the team in receiving yards despite not catching a touchdown this season. At 6-foot-6 242 pounds with wide receiver skills, the Alabama native creates matchup problems for every team The Crimson Tide faces. He’s quick and athletic enough to gain clean releases at the line of scrimmage. He’s too big and physical for defensive backs to cover him but too athletic for linebackers. It’ll take a strong game plan and proper execution to throw him off his game.
Howard is one of those guys when you watch him on certain plays, you can’t help but see a three-time all-SEC tight end. Obviously, some combination of inconsistency and play calling has not led to that, but he still scares the crap out of me, especially when you consider that Georgia hasn’t figured out a way to handle the mid-field passing game.
I may not be a big fan of Lane Kiffin, but there’s no doubt he schooled Georgia’s defense in his one previous meeting. I hope we’re not adding Beyond Howard to the Lexicon on Sunday.
I’ve already mentioned that I think Georgia’s mental preparation for the Alabama game is the biggest key on the day. But that cuts both ways, as it sounds like ‘Bama players have done a little soul searching in the wake of their loss to Ole Miss. And they’ve got the pressure of plenty to deal with, too.
If Alabama wants to remain in the national title hunt, it’ll need a good performance this Saturday in Athens against No. 8 Georgia. Another loss would make it unlikely for Alabama to win its division let alone make it back to a playoff semifinal. The ever-lofty expectations would go unrealized with one more mishap.
The Alabama players are well-aware.
Besides trying to eliminate outside noise, the veterans made abundantly clear in the players-only meeting that there was no more room for error.
“We put ourselves behind the eight-ball a little bit,” Jones said. “I think we’ve been in this situation before, so it’s not new. We have to keep trudging on and take it one game at a time to keep that from happening again.”
Unfortunately for us, those guys have more experience dealing successfully with those kinds of expectations than Richt’s guys do.
This can’t be good.
And if this is the best he’s got, Roger Goodell is an idiot.
N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking at a conference in New Orleans this month, said the sport was “safer than ever” because of awareness about injuries.
“I had a concussion playing baseball, and they didn’t do anything about it,” Goodell added. “We’re smarter about how long we practice.”
The reality is that the problem starts long before the pros get players.
Youth leagues and high schools have followed the N.F.L.’s lead and reduced contact in practice, but most serious injuries occur in games. Safety standards also vary widely. Many schools, for instance, still do not require trainers and emergency workers to be present at games. Coaches are sometimes unable to recognize the symptoms of concussions and unwilling to take players out.
Long term, that doesn’t bode well for the colleges or Goodell’s league. Ignore it at your peril, fellas.
UPDATE: More thoughts from Charlie Pierce.
If Georgia does indeed win on Saturday, the irony shouldn’t be lost on us that, at least in part, it can be chalked up to the program emulating much of what Alabama’s done to build itself into college football’s best program over the past eight years. And credit for some – okay, much – of that approach has to go to Jeremy Pruitt, who obviously absorbed a lot during his time in Tuscaloosa.
Take this quote, for example.
“I think one that we’d like to do is create the standard and the expectations here, do it over and over and hold everyone accountable that don’t do it the way that we want them to do it,” Pruitt said. “That’s what you have to do in any organization if you want to have success. You have to define the roles for the individuals in the organization, and if they do it right, pat them on the back. If they don’t, you have to correct them.”
I mean, close your eyes and listen there. All that’s missing is an “aight?” for it to sound just like his former boss.
Let’s just hope the results on the field match the talk.
Okay, I admit any story with the header “How ESPN plans to deal with college football games running longer” sounds potentially ominous, but the WWL’s approach turns out to be fairly benign.
For a game that started on a linear network running long with an outcome not in doubt, ESPN will often finish that game on WatchESPN/ESPN3 and a lesser linear network. That’s what happened with the Ole Miss-Alabama game. The Georgia-South Carolina game leading into that game was running long and the outcome was no longer in doubt. So ESPN placed the Georgia-South Carolina game on both ESPN3 and SEC Network Alternate, a non 24/7 sports channel that often handles overflow games. They also promoted the switch on social media and on a bug on the screen. While it’s not a perfect solution for fans—there is none given divided loyalties—it’s an attempt to serve fans.
So, they’re not stupid. And I applaud this:
What about moving to a 12, 4 and 8 start time scenario in order to end the spillover? Not going to happen. Ben-Hanan said ESPN wants to put on as many games as possible so they won’t be doing windows with just three games a day. Studio programming is also not going to draw nearly as well as a game broadcast. “We will put on as many games until fans tell us they don’t like it and we have never seen fans say that,” he said.
If the price is hunting around for where the last five minutes of a thirty-point blowout are being shown, I can live with that, for sure.
Of course, let’s not make Mickey out to be a saint here. Part of what’s pumping up the jam is “… the in-game commercial inventory that has inched up in newer rights deals to help justify the price.” Yeah, I think we’ve noticed.
Jim McElwain reminisces about a certain shitty night in Sanford Stadium.
The last time Alabama invaded Sanford Stadium resulted in the worst first-half beating of the 15-year Richt era. The Crimson Tide spoiled Georgia’s third appearance in black jerseys, racing to a 31-0 lead after two quarters of the 2008 matchup and coasted to a 41-30 victory.
Crimson Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson completed 13 of 16 passes for 205 yards, and Julio Jones caught five for 94 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown.
“They had a ‘blackout’ that night or something, and I just remember JP having a really good game,” said current Florida coach Jim McElwain, who was Alabama’s offensive coordinator in 2008. “We got off to a fast start, and when we were walking out of the press box to go down at halftime, a couple of Georgia fans started throwing some stuff at me.
“I was like, ‘Wow, we must have done something right.’ It was a lot of fun.”
Man, I’m surprised anyone had it in ’em to react at halftime. Everybody around me was too shell-shocked to do anything more than sit in disbelief.