We’ve probably already won a helluva lot more than anybody thought we would already, and we're going to focus on what we need to do to get better as a team, and come out with guns a-blazin’.
-- Nick Saban addressing the 1st and 10 Club at Heron Lakes Country Club, October 29, 2009
If emotion is strong enough, the words are unambiguous.
-- Marianne Moore, Paris Review interview 1960
Critics have posited that contemporary Americans have lost the appreciation of understatement. Which is to say they have lost their recognition of hyperbole. Which is to say they lack bullshit detectors. Which is to say they are suckers.
As readers, they find Plath and her daddy suitable vehicles for the tenor of the Holocaust, or vice versa, which is not to say they cannot read poetry, only that they cannot read it well. As sports fans, they become scoreboard watchers. As pollsters, they remain suckers.
For this audience, the Great Leader has decreed that the offense, the passing game, really, must do more than manage games but should become a downfield threat. However, there is more than opinion at stake. Continued victory demands it, as does the continued health of Mark Ingram.
Math quiz: for each yard Ingram has gained thus far in the season, divide by two. Take that total and divide by the number of carries. At this new integer, place a football player at equal interstices for the length of the sum yardage divided. Now have Mark Ingram run headlong through that distance being tackled by each player.
That is the cacophony through which Ingram has hummed this season, where half his yardage has occurred after initial contact. Bye week’s rest or no, that is not song that will end well--for Ingram or the team. And tomorrow’s game is as good a time as any to try a new tune.
For an audience who takes hyperbole as neutrality, the Alabama/LSU match-up has everything the contemporary viewer could want. High-profile teams. Bigger-than-life personalities. Violence. Obsession. Greatness. One preview of the game stated there would be more NFL talent on the field tomorrow than would be present in a Lions/Buccaneers game.
Hyperbole? What hyperbole?
In some circles, the Great Leader’s comments this past week about an improved passing attack and Greg McElroy’s public statements of pride over his no-touchdown performance against Tennessee have elicited a wary eye and an suspicious mind.
Could it be that the coach is laying a trap for his successor at LSU, who goes through rhetorical contortions to avoid saying his predecessor’s name or that of the team he now leads?
Could the quarterback be instructed to engage in some pre-game misdirection, a public relations play-action fake, if you will?
Could all this talk about the receivers “stepping up” and “attacking the middle” be a smokescreen to distract LSU’s preparation for the same ol’ Alabama offense you know and love? (You know, Mark Ingram.)
Unlikely. When the Great Leader speaks, his meaning is unambiguous.
But if this is so, if Alabama will indeed go to the passing game more this week, why then would he spell this out for his opponent?
For the same reason avian predators evolved eye sockets to the front of their heads and prey to the side: air assaults require clear vision.