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How to beat ‘Bama: Hit, think, pray
They say no team is unbeatable. They apparently haven’t seen Alabama play recently.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide has been startlingly good this season, outscoring Michigan, Western Kentucky and Arkansas 128-14. Each of Alabama’s games has essentially been over at halftime.
And, oh by the way, did we mention Alabama is the defending national champion.
So what’s the game plan? Where do you start looking for a way to beat the Tide?
“You’ve got to say a little prayer the night before,” Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart said.
Taggart likes to kid. Before his Hilltoppers played Alabama he joked the Tide was the next NFL expansion team.
If he found a weakness on the game tape, he wouldn’t share it Monday, but he did say, as you might expect, the No. 1 priority when beating Alabama is to not beat yourself. Limit turnovers, penalties and mistakes.
The same can be said about beating any very talented team: LSU, Florida State, Oregon, etc. With Alabama, the margin for error is thinner.
Former NFL quarterback Gary Danielson, who has been the lead analyst for CBS‘ Southeastern Conference coverage for seven years, uses a hockey analogy to describe what it’s like to play against Alabama.
“If you’re going to go against Alabama you have to win the one-one-one battles against the boards,” he said. “It’s a rough, tough game. And there’s 11 battles going on on the field right now and you can’t get pushed around on the boards.”
It’s not just about avoiding the careless turnover or silly penalty, it’s about matching Alabama’s attention to detail _ which is unsurpassed.
“When you have outside leverage as a defensive end you can’t get hooked (inside),” Danielson said. “You have to do your basic job. If you’re a corner and you have inside technique, you can’t get beat inside. If you’re a safety and you have the responsibility of not giving up the deep touchdown, you can’t come up and try to make a tackle 3 yards from the line of scrimmage and get beat for a touchdown.
“On offense, if you’re a running back and you have blitz pick up, you have to pick it up. If you’re a wide receiver and you have to make the easy catch, you have to make the easy catch. They’re too good to give them stuff.”
By John R. Bolton
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