The blood-and-thunder serial known as Hog fandom takes a break this week, gratefully, as players, coaches and fans alike pause to take a deep breath and come to terms with the season-defining matchup that awaits next week with Auburn.
And let's face it. The Auburn game very likely is season-defining. I believe we're beginning to resemble the team we envisioned would inhabit 2015, and the showing in Tuscaloosa was encouraging. Well, on defense anyway.
And while I certainly believe Arkansas could get a win in either Baton Rouge or Oxford, we'll be underdogs in both. It's probable we'll need to win out at home to go bowling.
A few housekeeping items from Bryant-Denny:
- Not sure how a D-1 crew misses the OPI on Bama's second touchdown. I mean, I realize the game essentially was over once they hit the bomb over the top, but geesh.
- With all due appreciation for what it was up against, you'd think the OL could win at least a couple of battles. Then again, when a defense the caliber of Bama's settles into the box, daring us to go over the top or simply stretch the field in any measurable way, it's like ripples breaking against a brick wall.
- That said, we didn't seem to try and stretch the field in any measurable way.
- Brandon Allen is tough and gritty. But man, he locks on while other targets, some fairly big, roam free and clear.
- Really, 48 minutes into the game, we're up 7-3 with Bama pinned deep and the defense playing valiantly. I guess that was about all we could ask for. Sadly, I actually called the deep ball. Ramirez will be a good one, but their guy made a play...and we missed a sack by a split second.
- The D carried us Saturday. Our hat is tipped.
- I have no problem with the fake. Play to win, I say. If Loewin makes a block, we pick it up.
- As for Flopghazi....ugh. I confess that when I first saw the video, it did look like Bielema egged it on a little. But the whole thing's been so blown out of proportion. The main issue is the video itself and why it even exists.
One day, we'll out-Bama Alabama. I truly believe we will. We're in year 3 of the Bielema era, and let's remember what the man inherited. Bama is in year 9 of Saban, and let's remember that the Tide was upset at home by none other than ULM in Saban's first season of 2007.
We'll get there. And on Saturday, despite feeling like we were walking a high wire and one slight misstep would lead to ruin (and it did), we looked the part of a good team. We're improving each week.
The 11 a.m. kickoff for Auburn is unfortunate. Given "the feud," real or imagined, you'd think this matchup would warrant an afternoon kickoff at least. The open date, however, is welcome. Psychologically as much as physically. We need to go 4-2 against Aubie, a 1-AA school, Ole Miss, LSU, Stark-vegas and Misery. Doable. While we've certainly underachieved so far, we're capable of closing 4-2.
Given the twists and turns of this crazy ride that we call the Hogs, one that sometimes feels like the plotline of a Mexican soap opera, who knows what awaits down the home stretch. I think it starts, though, with a satisfying win on Oct. 24.