Is Tide Fun Worth The Wait?

It didn't take a football genius to see that Alabama did not get off to a good start in its first loss of the season. The Crimson Tide was porous on its first defensive effort and unable to sustain offensive consistency until the Bama back was to the wall in falling to Georgia.

That's a recipe for disaster against most teams. Alabama doesn't have the firepower to overcome poor performance against most opponents on this year's schedule. Florida State, this week's opponent in neutral Jacksonville, Fla., is not the strongest team assembled by Coach Bobby Bowden, but the Seminoles have good players and good coaches. That means the Crimson Tide needs to be at its best.

There was a suggestion among Alabama followers this week that perhaps the loss to Georgia had been a good thing, that Bama needed a wake-up call.

One former Alabama coach who knew something about football, Paul Bryant, said that nothing good came of a loss, but it was important that a team learn from its mistakes.

Current Tide Coach Nick Saban had hoped that Alabama would learn from its mistakes in the thrilling come-from-behind, last minute victory against Arkansas two weeks ago. The Tide obviously took something from that game against the Razorbacks because Bama had another thrilling last ditch drive against Georgia. Unfortunately, the Tide miracle against the Bulldogs was just to get the game into overtime, and in the extra period Georgia came out with a 26-23 win.

No one in crimson wanted to have a slow start or have poor plays against Georgia. And Bama's coaching staff worked hard to get the Tide going. A hurry-up offense (Red Ball in Bama nomenclature) midway through the third quarter seemed to get Alabama untracked.

It is commendable, too, that Alabama won the fourth quarter against the Bulldogs (10-3). Winning the fourth quarter will pay dividends in a lot of games. But, again, it would be nice to not have to come from behind in the fourth quarter.

Alabama has an experienced offense with good linemen and wide receivers and tight ends. New tailbacks Terry Grant and more recently Glen Coffee and Roy Upchurch have been impressive.

It's not fair to put the blame for Bama's slow starts on quarterback John Parker Wilson, but that's the way it goes in football. The QB gets an extra dose of credit for wins, more blame for losses. Wilson has shown that he can do the job. He was a record-setting quarterback with fewer assets in 2006.

Is it taking him a little longer to learn the new offense? Possibly. But Wilson would probably be the first to admit that hitting open receivers is about the same in any offense. It's hard to imagine that Wilson won't revert to effective form. When he does, Alabama should be hitting on all cylinders. From the beginning.

Things are a little different on defense. The cupboard of defensive players was left without as much stock as on the offensive side. Saban pointed out early that Bama was thin both in size and in numbers up front. The loss of inside linebacker Darren Mustin for the second half of the Arkansas game and the entire Georgia game was noticed. Rolando McClain is a proven performer in his freshman year at middle linebacker, and Prince Hall showed some signs of his Freshman All-America ability in his first start of the year last week at weakside linebacker. Mustin, McClain and Hall should make those inside positions strong.

Brian Motley is getting closer to a return at noseguard, but that won't be this week. And maybe not for a few weeks. Meanwhile, Lorenzo Washington, Brandon Deaderick, and true freshmen Nick Gentry, Josh Chapman and Alfred McCullough have to man up.

After last week, the Tide needs to step forward this week.

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