First things first, and I believe we can all agree on this, Clemson was overvalued being ranked as the ninth best team in the country. Furthermore, some would say that pre-season rankings—maybe even those in the first month of the season—are, at worst, baseless or, at best, founded on unrepresentative sampling.
Plus, regardless of how stupid it is to promise the first hand-off of the season to an unproven back when you’re fielding perhaps the best tandem backfield in college football, the Tigers didn’t show what they were fully capable of.
We’ve no way of knowing what the Great Leader told Tommy Bowden when the Clemson coach called up after the game asking for advice, but if he were to ask me, I’d say let your best player touch the ball more than four times.
And, sure, Alabama could be fairly described as having “dominated” the game, as the nation’s sports press dubbed it. One of this site’s polestars, Cecil Hurt, even went so far as to suggest the opening coin flip as the most competitive moment of the game. But surely some of that is due to Clemson’s playing catch-up right off the bat and being knocked, not just off the line, both lines, but out of their game plan.
Obviously, Alabama’s defensive effort was impressive—anyone could see that. However, close observers of the Tide have been anticipating a strong, if not experienced, unit on that side of the ball. After all, wasn’t it just last year that Rolando McClain and Kareem Jackson played, and played well, as true freshmen?
Why, all last year I heard people opine that, were it not for depth issues, Lorenzo Washington would be a fine fit at defensive end, so why should we be surprised to see it come true? And haven’t fans been, half-jokingly or not, anticipating the play of JuCo-transfer nose tackle Terrence Cody?
So, really, no one should get too overexcited about seeing an already decent defensive squad play well, especially when they’ve had all fall to prepare for this first game.
Granted, the fans might be forgiven for their enthusiasm regarding Alabama’s offensive performance. John Parker Wilson played within himself, played poised, played the game as it came to him—in short, played the way fans have been wanting him to play for years. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; his best statistic of the night was zero turnovers, and that’s what you expect from a senior quarterback. So this can be classified under meeting expectations, nothing more. And that’s fine.
Of course, much attention was given to the freshmen, and given how well they played, on defense and offense, they deserve it. However, the plan was the share the load, not feature just one player. Julio Jones and Mark Ingram performed as well as blockers as they did as receiver or tailback. Don’ta Hightower recovered a fumble stripped by Cory Reamer. No one needs to be hero. After all, Rivals.com can't play the game for them.
Even though last week displayed a better, tougher, more cohesive Bama team, let’s not forget that this is essentially the same squad that lost to Louisiana-Monroe. Another heavy underdog from Louisiana is headed to Tuscaloosa tomorrow, by the way.
So let’s keep this in perspective. This was, as the Great Leader said immediately afterward, just one game. A great game? Sure—by any standard you wish to measure—but, still, just one game.
No one overreact, OK?