The sky isn’t falling. The sun came up today, as scheduled, beaming brightly into the second floor of the Hilton Garden Inn: Tuscaloosa, rousing me from nightmares of Tyler Wilson chucking the football like George Costanza in a game of pickup basketball.
So let’s get to it.
Let me get this out of the way. If you have not made the trip to Tuscaloosa, you need to. It is a fantastic time. From the tailgating at The Quad, to the strip of bars a FLAT, five-minute walk from the stadium, to the aesthetically pleasing symmetry and gargantuan size of Bryant-Denny Stadium, game day at the University of Alabama is finely tune and something Arkansas could aspire to. On top of that, their fans were exceedingly nice. Anxious to make sure we enjoyed ourselves, to the extent that it almost felt like they were trying to overcome their reputation for being so hated. No fewer than three different Bama fans bought us drinks pre-game, and one couple bought our lunch. Buffalo Phil’s is a wing place about three blocks from Bryant-Denny, and while their wings were awful, the atmosphere was tremendous.
Jeers to the uninformed Bama fan who we asked to take our picture standing in front of the statue of Bear Bryant. I said “We’re from Arkansas, he’s from Arkansas, will you take our picture?”. His resonse was “Really??? I never knew that.” In his fifties, dressed in Bama head-to-toe. Inexcusable.
I’ve ridden Jeff Long for his misuse of our ribbon boards. Same story at Alabama. Nothing but ads. No stats. Not anywhere. The only thing about BDS that disappointed me.
So, about the game… Three things. Offensive line, quarterback, missed tackles. That’s what it boiled down to for me. I think we expected the offensive line to struggle, and they did mightily, but I don’t think it mattered as much in pass protection as it did in the run game. Wilson got hurried, but even when he didn’t, he was never comfortable. A lot of the credit goes to Alabama for that, but we’ve seen it all season. Wilson stood in there a few times and made good throws. On both of the series that we scored on. Hmm.
I said it last week. Primary, dump. Those are our options with Tyler Wilson. His best pass is the underneath one. It’s the one he can see. It’s also one that we had NO chance of winning the game with against a team like Alabama. It will keep us in the game against every other team on the schedule for the rest of the year, including LSU, but it gave us no shot against the Tide. Their linebackers are too fast, and their secondary tackles too well. They don’t need a dime package because the pass coverage of their linebackers provides it already.
Our linebackers and secondary need work. A lot of work. But I’m not down on the defensive line the way most seem to be. We bottled Richardson and Lacy up pretty well when they ran inside. We did a good job of stringing them along outside. Then we couldn’t make tackles on the edge. We have to be able to make tackles on the edge.
Turnovers. Where are they? We have two on the year, right? Two interceptions? Maybe three? I don’t recall any recovered fumbles. I don’t even recall any FORCED fumbles. Have we had any??? At all?? I thought we were going to have a hard hitting defense this year, but I’m not seeing it over the past two weeks.
Cobi Hamilton is the best player on our team. We just can’t get him the damn ball enough because he is our outside guy. It’s the same reason Childs is absent. Jarius and Joe run the short-to-intermediate routes over the middle of the field, and that is what Tyler can throw right now.
I don’t know that Petrino got outcoached yesterday. I think he brought his best gameplan, which was to work the middle of the field if possible and hope our guys could make a play. And they just couldn’t. They nullified those routes, diverting Tyler right where they could eat our lunch. And when we DID complete those routes, they were into tight coverage and the receiver was tackled immediately. Their defense is better than LSU’s. Mark it down.
I still think we can win 10 games. I still think we can win 11. Nobody else on our schedule has Alabama’s defense. And nobody else on our schedule has Nick Saban. But to do it, Wilson is going to have to get in better command of our offense. He showed yesterday he can take a hit. He’s tough. Now he’s got to own that, stand in there, and find where he needs to go with the ball, instead of bailing out on so many plays.
Join the discussion. Or check out the postgame comments in the game thread. Seems pretty level headed for the most part. At least nobody’s calling for Petrino’s head, like on some other sites. Ridiculous.