Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Bye Week

A few teams I wanted to win yesterday didn't. 

I wanted Arkansas to beat Texas A&M. They couldn't put the Aggies away when they had the opportunity in the fourth quarter and eventually lost in overtime. 

A similar story line played out in Columbia, South Carolina. After playing the Tigers tough for three quarters, the Gamecocks played crappy defenses against Mizzou and lost. 

NC State lead for much of the game against Florida State, and then the Seminoles took over. 

From what I can tell from reports on the U of Memphis-Ole Miss game, it sounds like the Rebel defense played quite well, but their offense got into trouble with self-imposed mistakes. 

I expect Ole Miss will give Alabama everything it has this Saturday. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Music Friday: "Troubled Man"

As the artist has admitted in interviews over the years, it's never been cool or hip to like John Mellencamp. 

I guess I'm not hip then. 

Mellencamp's new album, Plain Spoken, came out this week. 

If you're not cool, watch this video of the opening song of the new album. Kudos to all of the troubled men out there in the world. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Florida

This game would have been a shutout if the Tide didn't commit stupid turnovers. The longest drive Florida had yesterday was for 31 yards. 

I got what I wanted: Blake Sims throwing the ball down the field. And he did a great job. 

He had two really bad snafus though. 

In other news, Amari Cooper has put himself in the Heisman conversation. 

Yesterday afternoon he amassed 201 yards on 10 receptions and 3 touchdowns. One of the big mini-battles within the game was Cooper against Hargreaves, who could be the best cornerback in college football. Coach Kiffin strategically moved around Cooper during the game, but for the most part, Cooper won most of the battles against Hargreaves. 

Given a short field in the first half, the Tide defense played well. 

Tony Brown, a true freshman, started at corner and looked quite good. They brought him off the edge at least a couple of times on corner blitzes. 

On the D-line, Jarran Reed's name was called out often by the announcers. The D held Florida to 107 net yards rushing. 

Yeldon had sort of an off game, but I was surprised when Yeldon worked out of the wildcat. Those plays brought back memories from Ingram's stellar performance against South Carolina in '09.  

Through the first part of the game, one of my refrains was, "Where's Henry?" We got a steady dose of 27 in the second half though. Overall, he gained 112 yards on 20 carries. As much as I really like Yeldon, Henry is a beast that they don't use enough. 

For some gaudy stats, check out Blake Sims: 23 completions on 33 attempts, 445 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception. 

I would imagine that in the bye week two matters will be emphasized: ensuring ball security and avoiding stupid penalties. Those two matters kept Florida in the game when they shouldn't have been. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Music Friday: "Born in the U.S.A." & "Downbound Train"

This week Dead Man's Town came out. It's a tribute album to Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. 

There are all kinds of solid covers on the album ~ particularly the Quaker City Nighthawk's "Darlington County," Blitzen Trapper's "Working on the Highway," Low's "I'm on Fire," and Trampled by Turtles' "I'm Going Down ~ but my favorites so far are the ones below: Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires' "Born in the U.S.A." and Joe Pug's "Downbound Train." 

Enjoy the covers and have a good weekend, folks. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stay Positive: Meetings

The video below is emblematic of a number of meetings I've attended this month. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Southern Mississippi

If I remember right, the last time Alabama played Southern Miss, Tyrone Prothro made his improbable catch.

That game was back when the Golden Eagles were a consistently good football team. The past few years, they haven't been.

As is typical these days, Southern Miss now runs a typical hunh offense. 

For the most part, Alabama handled them. The Golden Eagles had some decent drives, but the Crimson Tide didn't give up any touchdowns. The first quarter got off to a rocky start with the USM QB connecting on some longer passes that defensive backs were in position but got beat on the play, unfortunately. 

The defensive line played a good game and pressured the quarterback, especially in the middle and later parts of the game. Trey DePriest, Jonathan Allen, Xzavier Dickson, and others had strong performances. 

Blake Sims has started the first three games, and I'm sure he'll start against Florida next week. He commanded the offense effectively, made some plays with his feet, and connected on some solid passes. He went 12 for 17 for 168 yards, had 2 touchdowns passing, and ran a touchdown in. 

Once again, Amari Cooper was his main target as Coop hauled in 135 yards on 8 catches. 

There weren't any 100-yard runners for this game. The Tide gained 333 net yards in the rushing game but spread the yards to five different backs. Tyren Jones, who looks to be fourth on the depth chart, was impressive in mop-up duty with the second-team offensive line. 

Next week begins SEC play for the Crimson Tide as the Florida Gators visit T-Town. Florida narrowly escaped losing to Kentucky last night, so it's difficult to evaluate whether Kentucky is vastly improved and/or the Gators aren't as good as people think they are. 

I know Alabama will face a much stronger defense than they have faced the first three games. I expect them to stack the box to stop the run and challenge Sims to beat them. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Music Friday: "Elvis Went to Hollywood," "John Appleseed's Lament," & "Raining in Baltimore"

This week I stumbled upon the fact that the Counting Crows have a new album, Somewhere Under Wonderland. It came out this month. 

I snapped it up. It's a pretty darn good if you like the Counting Crows, which I always have. 

August and Everything After is one of those albums that brings me back to a certain time and place in my life. I heard "Mr. Jones" played a lot at my fraternity house. I might have even danced to it while cavorting with women and buzzed by Schlitz, which is a key to getting me to dance. 

The final song is from the their first major release. I remember my friend and brother Roy telling me that "Raining in Baltimore" was his favorite song on that album. When that song played at his funeral, I broke down crying. I miss that ginger-haired, music-trivia-knowin', goofy-ass, argumentative, loquacious bastard. 

And I say "bastard" with love. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Florida Atlantic

This game turned out to be about what most people expected except for it being stopped with a little under eight minutes in the fourth quarter because of a storm and lightning in the area. 

The on-the-field lightning yesterday was another stellar game from Amari Cooper. He tied the single-game reception record for Alabama with 13. Cooper amassed a career-high 189 yards in the game. 

If he stays healthy, he could be as good if not possibly better than Julio Jones. But no one will ever be better than Don Hutson

The Tide defense welcomed back two key players: Trey DePriest and Eddie Jackson. DePriest is key because he makes all the calls for the front seven, and Jackson is probably Alabama's best corner right now. 

The offense gained 620 yards with 416 yards coming from the passing game. 

Jacob Coker got his chance to "show out," as they say in the South, but Blake Sims looked more confident, threw the ball with more velocity on the short passes, and overall commanded the offense quite well except for a major screw up on the goal line. 

Here are the QBs' respective stats from the game:
  • Blake Sims: 11 completions on 13 attempts, 214 yards, 2 TDs
  • Jacob Coker: 15 completions on 24 attempts, 202 yards, 1 TD
Those stats disguise reality though. Sims threw a bunch of short passes that then turned into long pass plays because both Cooper and Drake caught the ball and ran like hell for touchdowns of 52 and 39 yards.

Coker looks the part of the pro-style passer ~ tall, big body, big arm ~ but he missed some pretty basic reads, and some of short throws looked lethargic. 

I doubt Coker can do this though.

What I'm a little perplexed by is that Sims didn't have many pass plays called where he could attempt to stretch the defense with vertical throws. If Sims is going to be the starter, he has to be able to make the big throws against SEC defenses, and I can only recall a handful over the first two game that might approach the moniker of "deep balls."

He's going to have make longer passes sometime, so he might as well start doing so against Southern Miss next Saturday. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Music Friday: "Headin' Home"

As I related in my previous Music Friday post, my daughter is taking up the saxophone, so I've integrated some jazz CDs into my rotation for the car. 

When I dropped her off at school today, this song was playing from Joshua Redman's MoodSwing

I'm not usually a fan of jazz that uses an electric bass. I like the traditional stand-up bass, which some jazz musicians call a "dog house." 

But I dig this tune. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bourbon Subterfuge

As I wrote about a while back, I've become a bit of bourbon dork/connoisseur, so I'm reading up on the history of the spirit and the current boom of America's spirit. 

Some bourbons and ryes out there craft interesting narratives for their products. Some of them are relatively true, but many of the stories behind the brands should be considered very creative non-fiction, and others stories are outright bullshit inventive marketing lies like the nonsense surrounding Templeton Rye

If you're interested in learning about some of those lies, check out Eric Felton's "Your 'Craft' Rye Whiskey Is Probably From a Factory Distillery in Indiana." 

In the article, you discover the shenanigans of Diageo and smaller producers. One of hyperlinks in the article via Sku's Recent Eats provides a comprehensive list of who is really producing what. 

It's good to see both Cedar Ridge in Swisher and Mississippi River Distilling Co. in Leclaire, Iowa are making their own stuff. I doubt the juice they make is as solid and consistent as many of the products from Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, and Four Roses, but it's good to see smaller companies out there hustling to make bourbon on their own.