And to cap off our season’s run of visits with opposing beat writers, we get ahold of the electric historian Mark Edwards (@DailyEdwards), who never has a dull moment covering all that is Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. You’ll learn things about the Crimson Tide the Crimson Tide probably didn’t even know about themselves.
Aaron Brenner, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer: Be honest: do you think Nick Saban looked up from Auburn tape for even five seconds to take notice of K-State and Oregon going down?
Mark Edwards, Decatur Daily: Yes, he did, but only because Miss Terry told him to. When Miss Terry says jump, Nick Saban says, “Yes, ma’am.”
Brenner: Please rank the Tide’s three most important offensive players. Could be quarterback, running back, offensive lineman, whomever.
Edwards: Quarterback AJ McCarron, center Barrett Jones, tight end Michael Williams. McCarron is smart, a good leader and makes good decisions mostly. Jones makes the line calls and does well at it. Williams is such a good blocker, you’ll see running plays go to his side of the line much more often than not.
Brenner: Has Alabama’s defense reached the point of overly-astronomical expectations? This is actually a “down” year compared to 2011.
Edwards: Yes, yes, yes. Alabama’s 2011 defense set an impossible standard. It led the country in rush, pass, scoring and total defense. Only Oklahoma in 1986 can match that. But Alabama’s 2011 defense had six players drafted, including four in the first 35 picks. That Oklahoma defense had only one guy picked higher than the first round: Brian Bosworth went in the first round of the supplemental draft.
Brenner: How is gameday in Tuscaloosa different against Auburn than all other games?
Edwards: More of an edge to the crowd. Other games are fun and exciting, while this one is business. If Alabama doesn’t win this one, the next year won’t be fun for Tide fans.
Brenner: It’s generally agreed that Saban can pick his score Saturday. Assuming it’s a blowout, do you think he’ll take mercy on Auburn?
Edwards: I don’t think it will be a blowout, because even bad Alabama and Auburn teams usually have found a way to offer a challenge in the Iron Bowl. But if Alabama rolls early and often, Saban won’t try to rub it in. He’s been on the other side before. In his first game at Michigan State in 1995, he played a Nebraska team for the ages and lost 50-10. Cornhuskers coach Tom Osborne could’ve named the score. Saban said Osborne made a point to tell him afterward his team wasn’t that bad, but Nebraska was that good.