Monday, September 5, 2011

Are We Ready to Rock and Roll the Tide?

Bleach is perfect for a WHITE OUT!
Why do eskimos wash their clothes in Tide?
Because it's too darned cold out tide!

Sorry, but the stress is starting to get to me.

While Saturday's 3:30 game with Bama has little bearing on the outcome in the Big Ten (to the extent that I think some tiebreakers involve overall results and rankings), it is one of the biggest homegames since O$U came to Beaver Stadium in 2005, and Nebraska in 2002.  You can also throw in THEM in 2006 and Miami (FL) in 2001, but the outcomes of those tilts were not so favorable for the fans clad in blue and white.  Or white alone, as will be the case this weekend.

Can Penn State win this game?  If you ask most PSU fans, including myself, we have our doubts.  Interestingly, despite being ranked #2, Alabama fans are worried about this game as well.  Maybe not all of them, but this blogger from RollBamaRoll is concerned after the Tide's performance against Kent State this past weekend.  He even dropped his Bama team in the blogpoll from 2 to 3.

Say what you will about the overall performance yesterday afternoon, but at the very least we should have a healthy squad against Penn State, which was something we did not have a year ago. 

The quarterback battle received much of the attention today, and rightly so. Both quarterbacks did some good things and some bad things, but clearly on the whole A.J. McCarron had the better day of the two. Does that result in more playing time for him next weekend, or will the three series strategy hold true for another week? Your guess is as good as mine at this point, but clearly McCarron bolstered his case yesterday afternoon. Having said that, though, even McCarron has room to improve and the play of both players left some desires unfulfilled. McCarron improved his positioning yesterday, but it's hard to see him winning the quarterback battle based upon the strength of that performance alone.

Turnovers, however, remain a major concern. McCarron and Sims each tossed two interceptions each, including one from Sims which was a de facto interception return for a touchdown, and 'Bama put the ball on the ground four more times. Fumble luck was fortunate yesterday (only one lost on four fumbles), but four interceptions and four fumbles against a quality opponent -- read Penn State -- is almost a guaranteed to yield a loss [emphasis added] regardless of how much fumble luck you may experience. Beating Penn State will be exceedingly difficult unless the Tide does not improve over how it protected the football yesterday in the season opener. The same goes for Arkansas, LSU, and many others.

While the offense had some issues and never really seemed to develop a rhythm, the defense was nothing short of outstanding in a dominating performance against Kent State. The Golden Flashes managed only 90 yards of total offense off 70 plays, and the pass defense averaged roughly one yard per pass. Making matters better, 'Bama actually stopped the run with authority yesterday, as opposed to merely limiting the run, which was the case all throughout the 2010 season. The Kent State tailbacks averaged well under three yards per carry, and the longest run from scrimmage all afternoon was a mere six yards. Throw in a few sacks and you basically did it all... stopped the run, stopped the pass, pressured the passer. A bit more takeaways would have been nice, but that's clearly nitpicking given the overall play yesterday afternoon. Yes it was against a weak offense, admittedly, but any performance of this nature is highly impressive regardless of the quality of opponent.

The biggest disappointment of the day was easily the sluggish play of the offensive line. Pass protection was shaky at times, though at least somewhat serviceable, but the run game was again almost non-existent.

Up until that last comment, you could probably have substituted Penn State for Bama and ISU for Kent State, and it would read more or less true.  However, our running game looked better than it has in several years, albeit against a different level of competition than we will face this coming week.

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