Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 Spring Roster Released

 

The University of Alabama has released the 2010 Spring Roster.

Check out the Roster Page for the complete roster.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Star Jackson Sidelined at Spring Practice

Backup quarterback Star Jackson has been sidelined at spring practice until he fixes his off  the field academic problems.

Star has missed the last two spring practices and will not be allowed to participate until his academics are fixed.

Saban had a few comments on the situation Saturday saying;

"We have a system around here for academics and guys have to conform to the system," 

"When a guy doesn't do what he's supposed to do in school, there's a point I don't let him participate until he gets it straightened out. He gets it straightened out the next few days or week, we'll let him back out to practice. Right now he's allowed to come to the meetings and when we go practice he has to do school work.”

Saban did also comment on Star’s on the field work, but again reminded those in attendance how important grades are to student athletes.

"Star's worked hard, he's done a nice job this spring, did a good job in the offseason program. But what's going to affect his quality of life more than anything else is when he graduates from school."

With Jackson on the sideline, A.J. McCarron most likely solidifies himself as the Tide’s number one backup this season.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What to Watch for in Spring Practice: Secondary

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Secondary

Much like the linebackers, the secondary comes into spring practice depleted from last fall’s squad. Mark Barron is the only returning starter at safety, however he did lead the league last year in interceptions with 7. That leaves us to find another safety to replace Justin Woodall and work with Barron, and we must find new cornerbacks to replace Javier Arenas, Kareem Jackson, and Marquis Johnson.

To make things even complicated, the top contender for the starting safety job, Robby Green, was suspended and his eligibility for next season is still unclear. If there is good news in the situation, he will be at practice once it resumes on the 22nd. If Green is not able to go, the job will fall to Sophomore Robert Lester. To complicate things for the two, it will be interesting to see what combinations Saban will use for the nickel and dime packages. During the first spring practice Friday, Barron and Lester did work together in drills.

As for the corners, there is no shortage of athletes on the roster but definitely a lack of game experience and reading coverages at full game speed. With the way Nick Saban uses his corner packages, the secondary will need at least three true starters for the fall season. The top three are Dre Kilpatrick, who has all the makings of a all conference corner, but must make a true commitment to his work. The second cornerback job is a highly contested match between LSU transfer Phelon Jones and B.J. Scott. Both are very physical players, however Jones may have an edge due to the experience gained while starting some games at LSU. No matter who takes the second spot, they both must be ready to play, whether it be as a nickel back or the fifth defensive back in the dime formation.

Let’s not forget the four and five star early enrollees John Fulton and DeMarcus Milliner who are already  in spring practice and running through drills. The question for them will be if their skills on the playing field will make up for their lack of experience.

While there are some large gaps to fill in the secondary this spring, there is no doubt that  that the talent pool is full. It will come down to who can separate themselves from those around them. With Nick Saban coaching the defensive backs, they will have every chance to prove themselves.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What to Watch for in Spring Practice: LBs

Football

Linebackers

Going into spring practice, we all knew how important it was going to be to try and replace Rolando McClain and the experience and talent he brought to the linebacker corp. On the first day of spring practice, we learned how important the coaching staff thought it was when defensive coordinator Kirby Smart took over as the linebackers coach instead of working with the defensive backs.

With that said, the team has only one returning starter in Donte Hightower, who was lost last season with a knee injury. He has been cleared to practice, however was only participating in non-contact drills last Friday. The good news is that it had nothing to do with his repaired knee and he was just nursing a hamstring pull. Given his talent, Hightower is primed to take over and lead the defense, the question is who to put around him.

The most likely candidate to line up with him at inside linebacker are Nico Johnson and Damion Square , who saw time last year especially after Hightower was lost.

As for the other linebacker positions, Courtney Upshaw, Jerrell Harris, have both played a limited part in the past for the Tide, so look for them to try and solidify their names in the starting slots.

The best battle to watch for this spring will be between Ed Stinson, Tana Patrick, and Jonathan Atchison. They are all redshirt freshman who have got the physical tools to take the job. The test will be to what extent they can fit the form of the linebacker Nick Saban likes for his defense. They all have the talent to make the cut, but need to show they can play a complete game with what limited experience they have.

All said, we know that Hightower will take over the middle and they will build the linebacker corp. around him. While Johnson, Upshaw, and Square have seen some time in games, they haven’t solidified their names in the starting sheet. Again, look for some of the younger guys to make a push for some significant playing time, especially this spring.

Next fall C.J. Mosley, Alfy Hill, and Adrian Hubbard arrive on campus, and don’t be surprised if these guys try to take some snaps from the older guys and make the lower end of the rotation.

With Kirby Smart now heading up the linebackers, he will definitely have the best out there starting and all of them top to bottom playing with all they have.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mal Moore nominated as Top Athletic Director

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The University of Alabama’s Athletic Director Mal Moore has been nominated as one of the top five finalist for Athletic Director of the Year award.

The award is given every year by the Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily.

The other four finalists are Dick Baddour from North Carolina, Dab Guerrero from UCLA, Gene Smith from Ohio State, and Gene Bleymaier from Boise State.

Moore played football at the University of Alabama from 1958- 1962 under coach Bear Bryant. He has served as the Tide’s Athletic Director since 1999. While some of his previous hires have been scrutinized and may have almost cost him his job. He now has his man coaching and has been instrumental in the ever-growing Bryant Denny Stadium expansions, as well as expansions to Coleman Coliseum and new stadiums for the tennis, soccer and softball teams.

What to Watch for in Spring Practice: OL & DL

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Offensive & Defensive Lineman

On the offensive line, the Tide will say well to Senior Offensive Guard Mike Johnson, who is one of only two offensive starters from last year not returning. Another athlete you wont see this spring in starting senior William Vlachos, who is out of practice after undergoing foot surgery.

Other than that, the offensive side of the ball will look familiar this spring. Christopher Walsh reported Friday, that the first team unit was:

  • OT: James Carpenter
  • OG: John Michael Boswell
  • C: David Ross
  • OG: Barrett Jones
  • OT: Alfred McCullough

The second unit taking snaps together:

  • OT: Tyler Love
  • OG: Anthony Steen
  • C: Brian Motley
  • OG: Chance Warmack
  • OT: D.J. Fluker

The much anticipated lineman is D.J. Fluker who many have hopes of becoming the next Andre Smith. Also, given the numbers of linemen on the team, don’t be surprised to see some guys slide up and down the line.

On the defensive side of the trench, the obvious gaping hole of emptiness is where Terrence Cody used to line up. This year the D-line will have a lot more than shoes to fill. Leading the way to replacing Cody is Josh Chapman, followed closely behind by Kerry Murphy, Nick Gentry, and Brandon Moore. However, the main question will be whether any combination of Josh Chapman and Kerry Murphy can demand the same attention and respect from opposing offensive lines than Cody did. However, what the combination loose in size, they bring up in relative speed and agility. The two will still be able to create some noise in the trenches from the nose guard position.

As for the two ends on the defensive line, Marcell Dareus will hold the line down with Luther Davis. Darues led the line last year in total tackles, tackles for a loss, and of course interceptions. His biggest and only one coming against Texas in the National Championship game last year. Behind these guys will be a large group of guys including Darrington Sentimore, Damion Square, Brandon Lewis, Unda Billingsley, Chris Bonds,William Ming and Antony Orr, who are all looking to make it to the rotation in the regular season.

Adding to the talent on the defensive line will be incoming freshman Brandon Ivory, the 6-3 330 lb. defensive tackle out of Memphis TN. Ivory will try to add his name to the depth chart at nose guard, while  the defensive end from Birmingham, Wilson love will enter practice this fall at defensive end.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What to Watch for in Spring Practice: WRs

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Wide Receivers

As for the wide receiver position this spring, the picture will look almost identical to the 2009 squad. The only wide receiver from the Tide’s 2009 campaign is Mike McCoy, who finished his career at the capstone.

That said, we all know that going into spring practice and the fall, that Julio Jones (6-4, 210 lbs.) will be the number one wide out. Though his 2009 production was down in terms of receptions and yardage, Jones caught just as many touchdown passes as he did in his much anticipated freshman season. Last season, Jones caught 42 balls for 573 yards and 4 touchdowns. Going into this season, he again will be the biggest threat to any secondary the team faces, however the only thing that should hurt his chances of a big season are again nagging injuries that cut down on his playing time like last year.

Opposite of Jones, look for Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks to battle for the second spot. Last year Maze tallied 30 catches for 519 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hanks turned in 3 touchdowns in 17 catches. While it is important for Jones to have a good season, it is possibly even more important for these two guys to have a big season to take away some of the heat that Jones will be under.

Battling for playing time this fall will be a cast of players who include Earl Alexander, Brandon Gibson, Michael Bowman, Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, and Kendall Kelly. The main question here is which one will separate themselves from the rest of the pack and solidify themselves in the rotation.

The other question is which of these guys will see time at another position. With the first practice of spring in the books last Friday, we have already seen Brandon Gibson split time with the defensive backs. Other move could include moving Michael Bowman to tight end, though time will tell.

With that said, McElroy will again have plenty of targets flying around the field, and with most teams playing to stop Ingram and the Tide’s running game, these guys will have to play on all cylinders. They may also be some of the best blocking wide outs and will have to keep it up to help seal the corners for the running game.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Terry Grant & Travis Sikes Leave the Team

 

After practice Friday, coach Nick Saban announced that two fifth year seniors will be leaving the team. The two are running back Terry Grant and wide receiver Travis Sikes.

When asked of Grant leaving, Saban said," "He decided because of injuries, he's already graduated, that he would not come back.”

Grant was most known for his 2007 campaign when he started in 13 games and had 891 yards on the season and rushing for 8 touchdowns. However, his carries were cut with the arrival of Glen Coffee and others such as Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.

Travis Sikes, who would have also been a fifth year senior this season, has also graduated and decided to leave. He also saw most of his playing time in 2007, and last played last season against Chattanooga.

Best of Luck to the both of them.

What to Watch for in Spring Practice: RBs

 

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Running Backs:

Now that we know who will probably be taking snaps for the Tide after this spring. Let’s look at who they will most likely be handing the ball off to.

Coming off a season where he became the first player from the University of Alabama to win a Heisman Trophy, Mark Ingram is no doubt top on the depth chart. I mean how on earth could you possibly replace a Heisman Trophy winner. We also know who is the definite number two man in the backfield, that being the lightning to Ingram’s thunder Trent Richardson.

The next question for those two really is how you divide the carries between the two. While neither are the type to demand more carries than the other, they will both probably get all the carries they want or need. Plus, even if Trent doesn’t get all the carries he wants, he will get all he can handle next season if Ingram leaves early for the draft.

That leaves us with Lacy, Fowler, Grant, and Griffin to decide what to do something with. Lacy has had all the Tide fans in a frenzy since Alabama got his commitment. Lacy definitely stands out  among the crowd as the number 3 back. Look for him to resemble Roy Upchurch last year. He will get some carries from time to time, and probably have some plays for him to get out of the backfield in some open space. However, he can’t be seen as a specific third down/ short yardage back because the two runners in front of him handle both.

Fowler will be most likely redshirted this year allowing him to learn from those guys ahead of him. As for Grant, Griffin, and Goode playing time may come scarce. Each one will have to make a name for themselves and try to make sure people know who they are with such a large shadow over them in Ingram and Richardson.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What to Watch for in Spring Practice: QBs

Quarterbacks:


Going into spring practice there is no doubt about who the starter will be. Greg McElroy, who lead the Tide to its national championship last year will be the obvious number one and will again be the leader of the offense. At this point, unless Greg suffers a serious injury, it is his job.


The questions for the depth chart start on the backup. Last year, Star Jackson shared the backup role and there were even talks of him challenging for the starting spot this time last year, however throughout the spring we saw Greg take job and Star was pushed to the second spot. This year, Star will have to compete for the same slot against redshirt freshman A.J. McCarron, who last real competitive football was played in high school at St. Paul’s in Mobile Alabama.


While there is no doubt about Star Jackson’s talent as a quarterback, the real question for him is how he fits into the mold of quarterback that Nick Saban has created. McCarron, who also seems to have the backing as the in state native, has the most potential to take the second spot. However, this year for him will be a learning year so that he will be ready to take over the team as the starter in future years. Though his potential down the road is huge, he must learn to manage a game and not make mistakes. As for Star, depending on how his spring goes, he has probably two choices. Take the third, possibly even forth spot in the chart as a QB, or make a move and contribute at another position.


The last question for the quarterbacks is what to do with incoming freshman Phillip Sims, the stud pro-style quarterback out of Virginia. Unfortunately for him, there is probably a red shirt waiting for him at the end of spring. With McElroy, McCarron, and Jackson already on the depth chart ahead of him, there is little chance that he wont be sidelined this season. But, much like McCarron, once he gets one season of practice under his belt, look for him to challenge for a spot higher on the depth chart.


Probable Depth Chart:


1. Greg McElroy

2. A.J. McCarron

3. Star Jackson

4. Thomas Darrah

5. RS: Phillip Sims

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What to Watch for this Spring

The Crimson Tide will take to the practice field this Friday to begin preparations to defend their status as national champions and the team to beat.

We will start a series of posts to breakdown the biggest things to watch for this spring.

Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

President Obama Welcomes the Tide to the White House

On Monday, the President of the United States welcomed the Alabama Crimson Tide to the White House to congratulate them on their National Championship season.

The team presented the President with a signed football, helmet displaying the number 13, and a jersey with his name on it.

However, not in attendance was Robert Gibbs, a native of Auburn and longtime Auburn fan. I guess the rivalry does run deep.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

UA Announces New Director of Player Development

On Monday, the University of Alabama's head coach Nick Saban announced the new hiring of Kevin Sherrer as the Tide's Director of Player Development.
Of the hire Coach Saban said, “We are pleased and happy to add Kevin Sherrer to our program,” and added “This position is important in terms of developing our players in all areas during their college careers. Our goal is to create an environment that helps student-athletes be more successful in life because of their time at the University of Alabama. We feel certain Kevin will do an outstanding job in his role and will be an asset to our program.”

Sherrer played tight end at Alabama from 1993 to 1995 and will be responsible for any student athlete activities off the field.

McClain Out at Combine

Last year's leading linebacker for the University of Alabama, Rolando McClain, will not work out at the NFL combine.

McClain is still in recovery from an earlier hamstring injury he suffered.

He did however show up and measured in officially at 6 foot 3 and 254 pounds.

McClain has been receiving treatment to his injured hamstring and will workout for NFL scouts at Alabama's pro day coming up on March 10.

As it stands now, McClain is still projected to be drafted in the first round.