With a shot at repeating as national champions in the rearview mirror, where does the 11th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide go from here?
Their shot at playing for an SEC title is also pretty much down the drain, and a BCS bowl is even in doubt at this point. So, can Alabama win its final three games of the season and make a statement or will it struggle to find the intensity to finish strong in 2010?
Last Saturday’s 24-21 loss in Baton Rouge to LSU put the final nail in a coffin that some had predicted was only a matter of time.
Losing nine starters on defense from last year’s 14-0 squad that won it all, the Crimson Tide have not been able to duplicate that intensity that won them a number of big games last season. Minus the thrilling rally in Fayetteville earlier this season against Arkansas (24-20 win), Alabama has not played much of the season with the same intensity it did a year ago.
In his weekly comments to the media, head coach Nick Saban noted, “I think the real glory of it is, sometimes when you get knocked down, it’s your ability to get back up, to overcome adversity, and that’s a true test of character. When you play good teams and you don’t do things right you get exposed. I think the emphasis needs to be on teaching and doing a good job in technique. Now, we’re responsible as coaches to be those teachers and to be good teachers, and that’s certainly what we need to do to help our team get better.
“But we still need to stay focused on what we need to do as a team to play better, to get better, to play with the kind of intensity that we need to play with and to be able to execute what we need to do to have success. I know that everybody is looking for some dynamic way – and I know you’re going to ask me how are you going to this or how are you going to do that – I’m already giving you that answer. That’s the answer to the question right there. Players have to have the right attitude about doing it. They have to respond the right way. We have to do a good job as coaches to teach them what they need to do so that they can continue to have more success.”
As senior QB Greg McElroy pointed out, “I think just as an individual I have to realize that I have three games left that are guaranteed. I have to just go out there and try to enjoy my last three games wearing the crimson helmet and crimson jersey. I just have to try to enjoy it the best I can. That is my approach as an individual. As a team, I realize we just have to play for all of our pride. Obviously, there is still a lot we can accomplish this season even though we can’t go to the national championship. This team still has a lot of character and a lot of pride. Every member of this team is very proud to be a member of this team, so they try to make the most of it.”
Pride will be a factor these next three weeks as Alabama hosts Mississippi State (Saturday), Georgia State (Nov. 18) and arch-rival Auburn (Nov. 26).
If Alabama comes out and plays with pride and tradition, it will be fine.
If not, expect a long three weeks for Alabama faithful.
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Written by Dave Thomas