Friday, August 19, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 8/19/05

Two-a-days began this week in Tuscaloosa, and early reports are cautious but hopeful. In intersquad scrimmages, every good play on one side of the ball means a bad play on the other, a zero-sum game no matter who’s keeping score. Coach Kines had his men running laps and earning their degrees in push-ups after the first scrimmage. As a man born on a train, he expects constant movement from his squad.

And speaking of moves, the pride of Brookhaven, Mississippi, Jimmy Johns has decided (with momma’s approval, of course) to join the backfield this season, and not as a quarterback. On one hand, there’s a bad omen in his switching to running back in that – compared to the other incoming freshman – he’s hard to miss, not a compliment to most runners. However, his brickhouse physique and eagerness to contribute (he even wants to play special teams!) are probably the reasons he’s being considered for this year’s roster in the first place.

The Johns move and the offense’s success in scrimmages this week portend at least some evolution of the Crimson Tide offensive strategy. With a converted quarterback and wide receiver both filling in spots on the tailback depth chart, even the less than creative can see the potential. Is it too much to ask for one halfback pass out of the wishbone? Even if it is against MTSU?

But evolution is a tricky thing. And changes based on circumstance rarely coincide with an ultimate goal. Over the eons, how many paramecia stretched forth their cilia only to be absorbed into the larger trichocysts of another? Seemed like a good idea at the time, I’m sure.

And sometimes imbalance may be preferable to natural selection. Current ecological thinkers posit it would be good for the long run to “re-wild” the Great Plains. Does middle America need rhinos in the breadbasket? Would you trust this man with a cougar in Kansas? There’s little doubt of that happening though. He’ll never convince the school boards to listen.

It’s a shame that the creationists don’t accept evolution; it could warn them about unexpected consequences. When they successfully teach a generation to assume an intelligent designer rather than induce knowledge from the world around them, what happens when they take their assumptions further? If one assumes the world is so complex that there must be someone (wink, wink) behind it all, then one would also assume, looking at the world’s savagery and brutal necessity to spill blood, that whomever this designer may be (nudge, nudge) he at best doesn’t care much for us poor slobs or at worst harbors a serious grudge. What happens to the creationists’ concerns then? Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. At a point, they must suppose, the long run can screw itself if the short term gain is good enough, which brings us back to Jimmy Johns.

In the long run, it may be best to redshirt Johns, make him listen to recordings of Kenny Stabler reading the playbook while he sleeps, and start him under center to see what happens when you put the ball in his hands 100% of the calls instead of 50%. But for right now, the coaches are at least humoring the short term gains (pun intended) he could rack up on the field now.

When Jimmy Johns turned 18, the federal government said he was old enough to be drafted into its military and state of Mississippi said he was man enough to get a tattoo. Thankfully, option two is the only one being exercised for the time being. On his right arm, his – now former – throwing arm, Jimmy Johns has a tattoo of Mississippi with a marker placed over Brookhaven. Above it reads “Rep your city.” The tattoo first saw action in the Mississippi state championship, which Johns’s team won, but after the game, the Crimson Tide’s latest addition to the backfield went back onto the field the celebrate – by playing touch football with the elementary school kids. No word on whether he played QB for both sides.

Rep your city.

Roll Tide.