A sponsored event. This time, it was the highly regarded VT Hokies coming to Atlanta to represent the ACC. Bama was here last year as a virtually unknown commodity that went on to whip a Tommy Bowden Clemson team that was touted to be explosive on offense and stingy on defense. What transpired was an epic coming out party for Alabama and an ass whooping for Bowden who would eventually get fired since it was Clemsons M.O. to be overrated and underwhelming when highly rated. That Alabama team would go 12-0 in the regular season with a really young team, with experience in key positions. This year was a little different. We all know that the defense was supposed to be good since we bring back alot of depth and experience to the Defense that Saban takes a keen eye to. Although we lost a good Safety, we have more skill overall in the Dline and LB's, which should help our young secondary. What we fans worried the most about was our QB position. McElroy is highly touted but no big game experience to speak of. This would be his trial by fire, and he did ok once he got into a groove. He also has a cannon that can fire the deep ball, something we havent had since Brodie Croyle walked the halls at Bama.
He came on a little skittish and I could tell he was getting his feet wet by getting hit, standing in the pocket and taking his licks. Eventually, after making several mental errors on offense, McElroy calmed down, and once he did, the rest of the offense got to clicking to where if we caught them blitzing, we could check down and run right where the blitz was not gonna be, and that seemed to allow us to rip off some good chunks of yardage late in the 3rd and 4th quarters. It looks to me, the better our offense does, it motivates our defense to do better, and vice versa. It seemed we had an open audition for starting tailback between Upchurch and Ingram. I say, let em keep fighting throughout the year, cause with these kind of efforts from both backs, we can't lose.
Both are very physically gifted runners who run mad at the world and punish those who get into their way. Ingram runs like a bootleg version of Emmit Smith, and Upchurch runs like a crackhead stole his car and he is on pursuit by foot and will tackle both the car and robber. Many times he lowered the boom on some chump in the VT secondary, and more than once, that player had to be helped off the field.
As the game began, I felt as though it would be a Defensive struggle since Beamer is known for his brand of football, and damn if we didnt fall right into that trap. Many say, if you are playing VT, go ahead and spot them14pts since they will get those points off of penalties and Special Teams. Well, we gave them a few more than that, but we were able to reclaim them back in our own way by stripping the ball and getting key turnovers, and points off of turnovers. We gave them easy points when we had them stopped cold on a fumble from a bad pitch, except Rolando Mcclain decided to get into a scuffle with a VT player and a ref, which set them up 1st and goal, and that cant happen against better competition like Florida. It almost cost us here like it cost us in the SECCG last year. Eventually, our O line with our new left tackle, Carpenter, was able to wear down the smaller Dline of VT, and Ingram was able to take over the game and put it away.
Our defense looks to be spot on , minus some stupid mental errors that cost us points. I am sure Saban will iron that out. Greg and Co. on the offense settled down and we were able to go over the top and hit some long strikes downfield that helped keep VT from blitzing so much, which opened up the run and play action because it seemed like they were guessing wrong on several key passes out of the play action, and when they hung back from blitzing, we ran for 15 yrds at a click. If we tweak some things on special teams and defense, a little more refinement on touch passes and passes downfield in stride, they will look like a college version of the Patriots from a few years ago. The key, like always, is staying healthy. Julio seemed to be either hurt or double covered all night, and that allowed Hanks and Maze to get some balls thrown there way. I believe McElroy was inadvertantly locking onto Julio, trying to force the ball to him because he is a great receiver. The only problem with that, there are usually 4 or 5 players hanging around Julio, which I believe should leave the TE, Colin Peek, wide open in seams in the defense all day long. Overall, I think we are gonna get the job done, its just seeing how good VT really was, or how good we really are. If all goes to plan, our next big test will be in a few weeks when we play a new improved Tennessee......they get Florida first, so we shall see if Lane Kiffin has anything for us...