SEC football is all about one thing: survival. It is the football equivalent of the Wild West; you just never know what is going to happen when two conference teams tangle up. A month into the season, only four SEC teams can still claim the title of “undefeated”, and the Crimson Tide of Alabama are among them.
They have managed to get past a tough Virginia Tech team early on, but their real tests will come in October, when they face a “murderers row” of conference opponents all hoping to end the Tide’s hopes for a record, 13th National Championship.
Alabama’s opening SEC battle against Arkansas didn’t turn out to be much of a battle at all. Quarterback Greg McElroy was able to pick apart the Hog’s secondary for nearly 300 yards, as he spread the ball around to nine different players throughout the course of the game. All the while, the Tide’s defense turned Hog quarterback Ryan Mallett upside down, forcing him to flee the pocket and rely on his strong (but at times erratic) arm instead of allowing him to set his feet and read the defense.
This winning trend should carry over into next week, as Alabama is set to face an average-at-best Kentucky squad. If the Wildcat’s game against Florida is any indication, look for Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline to help pad the stats of the Tide’s secondary, as he was picked off twice and held to only 85 yards passing against the Gators. With the emergence of DBs Mark Barron and Robby Green, the defensive backfield now not only displays great speed, but a hard hitting attitude as well.
If Bama can pull out of Kentucky with a win, they will have the tough tasks of facing Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee and LSU in consecutive weeks. With the injury to sophomore linebacker Dont’a Hightower (likely out for the season), the Tide’s ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks has diminished. Look for senior linebackers Corey Reamer and Eryk Anders to step up their roles as they try to make up for the loss of the standout sophomore.
With the offense starting to fire on all cylinders, and the combination of a strong D-line and hard nosed secondary, Alabama could likely be the team that rises to the occasion this season and goes undefeated in their conference. If the Tide can indeed get past all of their opponents, Florida (with or without Tebow) is probably going to be the team that challenges them for the conference title; a rematch of last year’s Gator victory.
While most people are already giving Florida the SEC trophy, don’t overlook the Crimson Tide. With the talent that they possess on both sides of the ball, they could very well be the team to take down the Gators by season’s end.