Unless something unforeseen pops up, this will be my last blog post for a few days.
It’s the bye week so this sports writer is saying goodbye to the state of Alabama for the weekend and heading back to Bowling Green, Ky., for a little homecoming action at Western Kentucky University — home of a one-game football winning streak for the first time since 2008.
Have a nice bye weekend, but expect the intensity to ratchet up by Monday with LSU on the Crimson Tide schedule next Saturday.
Before the season, I put together a genius list of the 10 keys to Alabama’s football season. Now that we’re at the bye week eight games into the season, let’s see where they stand.
1. Forget the past. It’s hard to evaluate this one since it is more abstract and less tangible. 2. Waste no time. The Tide did a good job of starting fast by navigating the first portion of the schedule without a loss until going to South Carolina. 3. Keep Julio healthy. Alabama was half successful on this one, but it didn’t seem to matter much when Jones broke his hand and then hauled in a school-record 221 receiving yards two weeks later. 4. Stay out of trouble. No issues there. Nobody’s been arrested or suspended so far. 5. A wildcard must emerge. There hasn’t been one as prominent as Mark Ingram was last year, but safeties Robert Lester and Will Lowery came out of obscurity to make an impact in the secondary. C.J. Mosley has also played a big part in the defense as a freshman linebacker. 6. Kick it long, straight. They’ve kicked it longer and straighter than I may have expected in August. The young kickers/punter have done a fairly good job of not playing the Tide out of any wins while maturing along the way. 7. Beware of the traps. Not so good on this one. In the preseason preview, I warned of the danger lurking in Columbia. Turns out, I was right. 8. Embrace the media. Hmm…. 9. Fast-tracked maturation. Another hard one to evaluate, but it hasn’t been a disaster. 10. Be innovative.The offense hasn’t always stepped out of the box, but it did an excellent job using the “Wildcat” to set up the pass from Marquis Maze to Michael Williams in the Florida win.
Stay tuned to see how the Tide will navigate the final four games of the regular season and how it relates to this master list.
The offensive honor went to Auburn QB Cam Newton instead who ran for 217 yards against LSU. Julio Jones was the runner up for the SEC offensive player of the week for piling up a school-record 221 receiving yards against Tennessee on Saturday.
Alabama left tackle James Carpenter picked up SEC offensive lineman of the week after receiving the top grading on the O-line.
Other than that, there’s not a whole lot going on this Monday of the bye week. There is no Monday news conference so that update will not be coming later in the day.
If news breaks, though, you know where to find it.
All is quiet for now in Neyland Stadium, but the atmosphere outside is pretty solid. For a first timer in Knoxville, I have to say I’m impressed with the size of the structure, but not crazy about the aesthetics.
All eyes in the press box are trained on the Auburn/LSU game that Cam Newton leads 10-3. Come on back for updates as warranted.
Update: We’re about 90 minutes away from kickoff now and Auburn is tied with LSU 10-10 at halftime. Former Heisman winner Eddie George was just grabbing some food in the nice new press box here in Neyland Stadium. The ex-Ohio State/Tennessee Titan is doing radio work today for Westwood One.
Update: My alma mater, Western Kentucky, leads UL-Lafayette 10-0 after one quarter as the nation’s longest losing streak could be in trouble. In Alabama news, the “Million Dollar Band” just took their seats as the trainers/managers play catch on the field.
Update: Contrary to any crazy internet rumor, Greg McElroy does not appear to be injured in any way. Both hands look like they are working and there are no indications that AJ McCarron will get the start instead.