Halfway through the season, the mood around those following the Alabama Crimson Tide resembles the philosopher’s melancholia religiosa. The losses were wrenching and tense, the wins ugly. And with six chances gone and six more remaining, the team’s yet to put together a complete game. Alabama will have to play considerably better than a mere ‘complete’ game to win tomorrow.
Some onlookers have called for more offensive fubbery, but the results appear unpromising: the lone fake kick attempt resembled an elementary school fire drill and whichever page of playbook contains the direct snap to the tailback should be ripped out, burned, spat upon, buried, and ingested by a family of diarrheic naked mole-rats. Lo, if only the tackle-eligible were still, uh… eligible.
Others suggest scrapping the 3-3-5 for four down linemen. Indeed, had we but world enough and time to break in some new faces up front there might well be such a plan in the works for tomorrow. But such are the hidden losses of ugly wins: your young players stay young, and idle, and on the sidelines. Joe Kines may have been born on a train but he was not born on yesterday’s train, and he likely won’t try to reinvent the defense in front of the largest paying audience in college football.
Last week’s win over Ole Miss re-debuted more than just an old fashion statement. It marked a return to form for Kenneth Darby, not against a hapless and winless Duke team but against an SEC school, who was keyed in on him from the start and still couldn’t stop him.
Darby’s heteroclite, twining running style worked against him in the season’s opening half: he corkscrewed himself through the turf more than through the line. But the injuries and bad luck seem to be behind him now, and just in time. Because despite the accelerated progress of quarterback John Parker Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt and the increased optimism over the offensive line, Alabama’s chances live and die on Darby’s feet.
A few pretty runs from him, and I’ll settle for the ugliest win you can think of.