Alabama 30, Southern Miss 21
The Negatives: Holy crap, I don't think I can take too many stressful games like this one, and yet, I'm sure it's going to be a long season of them. Where to start? Bama isn't going to be able to spot another team 14 points like this and get away with it again. We are not a come from behind team and getting down 21-10 against a better SEC opponent isn't something I want to think about. After the opening drive ending in a touchdown pass I was settled in to leisurely flip back and forth between this, UAB/Troy and Texas/Ohio State but as it turned out I checked the UAB score a couple of times and forgot about Texas all together. I don't care about Texas or Ohio State so missing it wasn't that big of a deal for me. I know there was a lot of hype about two top five teams facing off in the regular season, but I just can't get up for hot Big 12 on Big 10 action especially since rankings that high two weeks into the season mean exactly nothing, a lesson learned the hard way by OU last week and Iowa today. To be perfectly frank, I'd have much rather seen the Vandy/Arkansas game. How long has it been since Vandy opened their season 2-0, and how awesome would it be if they ran the SEC East? A Bama/Vandy match-up in Atlanta? Hell. Yes. But I'm rambling. Sorry. Since UAB was never in any danger against Troy I didn't even bother watching it and instead focused entirely on Bama. Other than that costly turnover by Croyle our kicking game/special teams play was the biggest black mark on the game. Southern Miss's second touchdown came off a long return of a terrible punt. Tack on a missed field goal and a missed extra point and it's looking more than rough. Maybe they should let Prothro start doing all the kicking, too. Just a thought. The defense stood up as expected, but I was a little dissapointed in the secondary's pass coverage at times. You can bet Spurrier is going to notice and hopefully Kines will have the situation rectified before next Saturday. There was also some sloppy play that killed a few drives but penalties were a bigger factor for Southern Miss. Another negative is this is the end of the series for the foreseeable future. I'm actually kind of sad about that. Southern Miss is by no means a rival on par with AU or UT (mostly because we own them), but we've played them almost every year of my life and it's kind of weird thinking about a season without them.
The Positives: Brodie Croyle can still walk, Prothro has completely redeemed himself, the timers on the sprinklers at Bryant-Denny function perfectly, and Joe Kines continues to show brilliance in his defensive strategery. To begin with, the defensive showing in the first half was better than you'd surmise from the score. The offense gave up 7 of the 21 points and another 7 came from special teams play allowing the Golden Eagles to start from their own 11 yard line. The defense only gave up 14 points the entire game and that was all in the first half. Kines made the adjustments necessary during half time to, once again, completely dominate the second half which is extra impressive since this is the second week in a row that he's had to prepare without the benefit of game tape (since USM's opener against Tulane was canceled). Seriously, the man should enter the stadium to his own theme song like a pro-wrestler since he's totally carrying this team right now. May I make a suggestion? I was also glad to see the passing game open up a little more, but the O-line is still shaky and pass protection for Croyle is seriously key to our success. I have a little more faith in Wilson stepping in for Croyle than I did in Guillon or Pennington but I'd rather not have that faith put to the test. Overall, once I settled down at the start of the second half I was pleased with the progress since last week.
I'm a little antsy about going on the road to face Spurrier next week, but since we'll actually have something to prepare by Kines should be able to take the SC offense apart. The biggest question mark is still our offense, but Georgia pulled it out by grinding away with the running game and isn't that really what Alabama does best?