Tide goes into two-quarter slumber after lightning delay, but dominant start and finish lead to soaking of Missouri
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Oct 14, 2012 | 4671 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy tries to avoid Missouri defensive back E.J. Gaines.
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy tries to avoid Missouri defensive back E.J. Gaines.
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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Finally, we see why six out of 232 combined voters in three major polls don’t vote Alabama No. 1, and a stormy day in Missouri opened our eyes.

Turns out the process-oriented Crimson Tide loses its edge a smidge when the process is interrupted by, say, a weather delay.

Good thing for Alabama it doesn’t happen every week, and good thing the Tide’s lulls don’t last more than a quarter or two. Otherwise, woe would be today’s release of the season’s first Bowl Championship Series standings.

And yes, this is dripping satire.

Alabama played so well to open and close its rain-soaked 42-10 rout of SEC newcomer Missouri on Saturday that the Tide’s two-quarter slumber after a weather delay stood out more than mattered.

When an undefeated team spends the first six weeks of a season building an air of inevitability — so much so that its coach sends weekly humility lectures through his media availabilities — little hiccups stand out.

“Everybody has a responsibility and an obligation to be all that they can be and play to their full potential, and that’s what we’re trying to do with this group on a consistent basis,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “We’ve certainly had some times when we’ve done that, but we just need to do it all the time.

“It can’t be a sometime thing. It’s got to be an all-the-time thing.”

For a time Saturday, it was a not-presently thing.

Lightning flashed just north of Faurot Field right after T.J. Yeldon’s 15-yard touchdown run put Alabama up 27-0 at 8:40 of the second quarter, and officials suspended the action.

By SEC rule, action could resume 30 minutes after the last lightning strike was detected within a six-mile radius of the stadium, so the teams spent 30 minutes in the locker room.

Action resumed with a Jeremy Shelley extra point to make it 28-0, then Missouri, which has lost its first four SEC games and was a week removed from a loss to Vanderbilt, showed lightning of its own.

Marcus Murphy returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards to launch a 10-0 Missouri run that lasted until almost midway through the fourth quarter.

The Tigers got within 28-10 and could have come much closer but for Alabama’s defense.

Alabama running back Eddie Lacy fumbled away Alabama’s next possession, but Missouri moved just three yards after taking over at Alabama’s 48-yard line.

Then Alabama punter Cody Mandell bobbled a snap, and Mizzou took over on Alabama’s 34. The Tigers got to the 9 before Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard came on a blindside blitz and jarred the ball from Mizzou quarterback Corbin Berkstresser.

A chase for the ball ensued, and Alabama’s C.J. Mosley recovered at Mizzou’s 49. Alabama made it to halftime with a 28-7 lead, just in time for a Saban wall-painting sermon in the locker room.

But officials called for a five-minute halftime, so Saban didn’t have much time to stoke Alabama psyches.

Early in the third quarter, Missouri reached the Alabama 23 when Berkstresser connected with L’Damian Washington for a 29-yard pass. The Crimson Tide held, but Andrew Baggett’s 41-yard field made it 28-10 at 11:50 of the third quarter.

That launched a stalemate that lasted until 8:05 of the third quarter when Lacy scored his third touchdown of the day, on a 1-yard run.

So, from 8:40 of the second quarter to 8:05 of the fourth, a Missouri team missing injured quarterback James Franklin and several injured offensive linemen went about proving every Saban rant this season right.

Apparently, Saban needs to contract a traveling motivational speaker just for weather delays.

“I didn’t do a very good job when we were on the 30-minute break, obviously, getting the intensity back up, getting mental energy back up, going out there and, you know, warming up and coming back and playing like we needed to play,” Saban said. “We didn’t play nearly as well after that.”

Good thing for Alabama that everything Saban said over a bye week worked, because the Tide spent the game’s first 21 minutes showing why 226 voters have it No. 1.

By 6:07 of the first quarter, Lacy had already scored on runs of 73 and three yards to make it 14-0. Alabama’s first two scoring drives covered five total plays, 125 yards and a minute and 57 seconds — less time than it took country music star Sara Evans to sing a long-but-strong rendition of the National Anthem.

Yeldon added two scoring runs, including a 1-yarder at 1:42 of the first quarter, and Kenyan Drake scored a garbage-time touchdown from three yards out with 2:28 left to play.

Lacy wound up with 177 yards and Yeldon 144, and Alabama outgained Missouri 533 yards to 129. The Tigers managed just three net rushing yards to Alabama’s 362.

Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron went 16-for-21 for 171 yards and finished the game after suffering what Saban called a “twisted (right) knee” in the third quarter.

McCarron did not meet with media after the game but was seen limping to the team bus with a protective boot jutting out from his crimson jogging pants. Saban said the injury will be re-evaluated today, but he’s hopeful that McCarron will not miss a start.

Odds are even better that lightning won’t strike twice in Alabama’s quest for back-to-back national titles and third in four years, but at least the Tide can now process the weather-delay experience.

“I think it was adversity,” senior center Barrett Jones said. “We knew it really couldn’t do anything but hurt us. We had all of the momentum going into that, and we hated to be off the field. When you have the momentum, you don’t want to leave the field.

“Obviously, there was a lull, but I want to reiterate, I think we did a good job of finishing strong.”

Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.

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