This week's Blogger Q&A comes to you from Roll Bama Roll, SBNation's Alabama blog. Our responses to their questions should be up later this morning. Check them out.
RCR: We hear people all the time talk about Nick Saban as someone who could step in and right any ship, so to speak. Do you think Saban is really the win-with-anyone talent people hold him out to be, or is his approach to the job only truly successful at a program that is storied and can attract top talent regardless?
RBR: Saban’s approach certainly isn’t win-with-anyone as the 2007 Alabama season ably demonstrated. The effectiveness of his approach really is in his fabled "Process." It’s predicated on creating a consistent scheme for the team, deliberately finding the talent that can implement it and then focusing on the details to make it work rather than targeting the desired longer-term outcomes.
I’m more and more convinced the real key to Saban’s success is his ability to identify talented coaches and bring them into the program to develop their skills and give them the space to do their jobs. His real genius is organizational and his ability to create a solid framework for the program itself is what allows what you see the success on the field.
RCR: Alabama's run defense so far has been utterly incredible. Which players specifically account for the unstoppable force that disrupts plays so early?
RBR: Jesse Williams. When Alabama brought this native of Brisbane, Australia on board last year he was seen as a project. He hadn’t played American-style football that long and it showed in the spring with his lack of technique. He clearly worked hard over the summer since he’s been a force at from the very first game.
The noseguard is the fulcrum of Nick Saban’s 3-4 defense. If he can take up two defenders it not only stymies the run at the point of attack, it also gives the linebackers an advantage off the edge. With Terrence Cody, Alabama used sheer size to handle the equation. William’s isn’t that big (6’4", 320 lbs) but he’s also strong and terrifyingly fast. He’ll be in your quarterback’s grill a lot more than you expect on Saturday.
RBR: In terms of raw talent, Richardson might have an edge over Ingram but the fact is the Alabama running game has been so deadly due to the fact they both were in the roster. Depending on one runner to carry the entire load is a recipe for disaster down the road either with fatigue (late in games), injury (late in the season) or defenses finally figuring out better ways to handle the guy.
Richardson is now benefiting from the production of Eddie Lacy in the same way Ingram prospered with #3 behind him in the lineup. Lacy’s turf-toe situation is a worry but sophomore Jalston Fowler – a Brinks truck of a runner) has picked up the slack quite well.
RBR: Barron and Lester have seemed quiet this year in light of their ridiculous interception totals from seasons past but, ironically, both seem to have improved not only their play on the field but their leadership of the defense. That last bit matters as a huge key to the success of Alabama’s pass defense is the play of the safeties in Nick Saban’s vaunted nickel and dime packages. There may be a lack of highlight film in comparison to year’s pass but the fact Alabama is No. 3 in the country for Pass Efficiency Defense is a testament to their efforts as well as the limited number of big plays for scores by the opposition.
RCR: Are they more geared towards coverage, hitting hard, or both? Please, God. Not both.
RBR: Coverage is always the priority but Barron is second on the team for tackles and some of his hits this season have been downright brutal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUPrI8sI63A
RCR What's the outcome of the game? Give a score prediction and explain how it gets there.
RBR: I despise score predictions but I will say this, the Alabama defense goal every game is to limit every team to 13 points or fewer. I don’t think they’ll have trouble doing that and I believe AJ McCarron can lead the offense to at least the minimum two touchdowns the offense has to have to keep up their end of the bargain. The fact is Alabama to achieve two things on Saturday they were able to accomplish against Vanderbilt last Saturday – avoid injuries and allow the passing game to continue to develop.
RCR: Would you mind letting us score a touchdown? It doesn't have to be on offense. Thanks.
RBR: It’s not that I don’t want to, but I’m not sure I’d survive asking that kind of favor from Coach Saban.