Tide Needs To Take Care Of ULM

One of the things to be learned this week is the name of the Alabama football opponent. It is not Monroe or even Louisiana-Monroe. The school on Bama's schedule this week is the University of Louisiana at Monroe. ULM to its close friends, I suppose.

The job of the Alabama football team is to put the game away about as quickly as one can say the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

The Crimson Tide of Coach Nick Saban will host the Warhawks at 1:30 p.m. CST Saturday in a game that is not being televised, not even on a pay-per-view basis. There hasn't been a great deal of conversation about why there is no pay-per-view, but the answer is that in order to have that type telecast, kickoff would have to be at 6 p.m. It is likely more fans would be inconvenienced by that late kickoff time than would take advantage of the pay telecast. Additionally, Bama football players and coaches could benefit from the additional time following the game.

There is a danger in looking ahead, but one can't help but be aware that on the Saturday following this one, Alabama will be going to Auburn for the final regular season game of the year. And as is often the case, the Tide will be playing against a team that has an open week before playing Alabama.

It could be a good thing to be playing a game this week rather than having the weekend off. That's because Alabama was not successful in its previous outing, losing to Mississippi State in ignominious fashion. Although players get over losses more quickly than fans in ordinary circumstances, there has to be a hangover from a bad loss.

Prior to Monday's press briefing, some of the beat writers were passing the time sharing potential facetious questions for Coach Nick Saban. One suggestion was along the lines of how this might be an opportunity to rest the starters and give experience to the back-ups. No one would dare pose such a question, we knew. Or at least thought we knew. Late in the press conference from way in the back came a question along those lines. The unfortunate reporter didn't even get to finish the question before Saban was explaining to him that Alabama had to win the game, that the coach hoped that the starters would play well enough to do that.

There is no reason Alabama should not play well enough to defeat ULM. There is no reason the game should not be decided very quickly.

Of course, had Alabama punched in a touchdown in the final seconds of the first half against Mississippi State, that game might have been decided in favor of the Tide in quick order. Instead, a poorly designed play and poorly thrown pass was intercepted and returned 100 yards for a touchdown, propelling the Bulldogs to a 17-12 win.

One thing that loss to State should have done is have Bama coaches and players focused squarely on the job at hand: beat the ULM Warhawks. We have heard from Alabama's players and even from Coach Saban how Monroe had players who looked very good against the likes of Clemson and Texas A&M. Just for the record, Clemson won by 49-26 and A&M was a 54-14 winner.

ULM is 4-6 and the other losses have been at the hands of Tulsa, Troy, North Texas and Middle Tennessee.

It will be very disappointing this week if those Alabama fans who have been clamoring for Greg McElroy to get some playing time at quarterback do not get their wish.

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