Thursday, May 27, 2010

Recruitment Update

I found a great article by Chris Low of ESPN who runs their SEC blog. It is an article called SEC Recruiting Scoreboard and it breaks down how well the SEC schools have recruited thus far for 2011. Below is the breakdown for Alabama so far in 2011

2011 verbal commitments: 12

The “spotlight” of the class so far is Defensive end D.J. Pettway of Pensacola FL says Low.

The list also includes 9 ESPNU 150 Watch List Members. They are:

  1. LB Brent Calloway of Russellville, Ala.
  2. S Hasean Clinton-Dix of Orlando Fl.
  3. TE Malcolm Faciane of Picayune, Miss.
  4. DE LaMichael Fanning of Auburn, Ala.
  5. DE D.J. Pettway of Pensacola, Fla.
  6. WR Marvin Shinn of Prichard, Ala.
  7. WR Bradley Sylve of Port Sulphur, La.
  8. ATH Jabriel Washington of Jackson, Tenn.
  9. WR Danny Woodson of Mobile, Ala.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Crimson Tide Opponent Preview: Game 4- Arkansas

8 The Crimson Tide will open up their in conference play in 2010 playing Arkansas in what could be an early season matchup of two potential SEC West champions. Arkansas may be poised to have their best year in a while and the best under coach Bobby Petrino. Last year, Arkansas came into Bryant Denny Stadium and had to go home with their tales between their legs. However the Hogs will have every intention of knocking off the defending national champions and adding an SEC championship trophy, some even think a national championship trophy, to the halls in Fayetteville. Already, Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet and tight end D.J. Williams have had interviews where they shared their goal of winning a national championship and hoisting the crystal ball at the end of the season.

Last season however was a less than stellar year for the Razorbacks. They went 3-5 in the SEC and had an overall record 8-5. However, they look to build off last season’s play with 9 returning starters on offense and 7 on the defensive side of the ball. The biggest returner as we all know is Ryan Mallet, who will again lead the team from under center and be fully healed from his broken foot. While many thought he would have entered the NFL draft after last season, Mallet says he had no intention of leaving the team for the pros. Who wouldn’t come back knowing that he will again have the best wide receiving core and tight end in the country. In fact, returning wide receiver Greg Childs led all SEC receivers a year ago in league games in receiving yards, yards-per-catch, and touchdown catches. Also, it is probably well known that D.J. Williams will also be a force to be reckoned with at the tight end position. With the playmakers around him, some think Mallet may challenge for a Heisman Trophy this season. With all the firepower around him and Bobby Petrino’s interesting formations, the Hogs will pose quite the challenge on the Tide’s defense this season.

The Hogs defense will also be improved this season, a defense that ranked last in the SEC in passing. In fact, there have been some moves on the defensive side of the ball on the Hogs part to sure up the secondary. The biggest move we saw this spring was at safety. Rudell Crim moved from his cornerback position to safety, a position he played in JUCO. The Hogs will also have some key cornerbacks returning including Isaac Madison who missed all of last year with a knee injury. They Hogs secondary will definitely be faster and more physical then it was a year ago. Julio Jones, and the other Tide receivers will have to play well to separate themselves from this unit. The real question the team has is at the linebacker position. Jerry Franklin will start out  on the weak side, while Terrell Williams and Jermaine Love will continue their battle from spring this fall to get the starting slot at middle linebacker. Other than that, the Hogs will have to rely on some new names to fill key depth at the linebacker positions, and they can not afford to loose any this fall to injury.

As for now this game looks to be the Tide first SEC battle of the season, and we know the Arkansas team will come out with something to prove. The offenses will both be explosive and it may even come down to who has the ball last and makes the fewest mistakes. But, again we are along way from September 25th, and a lot may change between now and then. I still think the Tide will come out on top, it just may not be the blowouts we have seen the last couple of seasons.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mark Ingram Honored in Flint

What better way to honor a hometown hero than to have his name become part of his high school stadium. That is how the city of Flint Michigan honored University of Alabama running back Mark Ingram in his home town stadium Atwood Stadium.

Ingram played his high school ball at Flint Southwestern Academy and played his seasons there at Atwood.

The stadium itself now has two new signs above the scoreboards that read, “Home of Mark Ingram II, 2009 Heisman Trophy Winner.”

The Heisman Trophy made the trip as well and was displayed on stage for the hundreds of people in attendance, and when he spoke, Ingram said that is was “good to be home.” This has also been a victory for the city of Flint, whose mayor named December 12th “Mark Ingram Day” after he was announced as the Heisman Trophy winner.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Opponent Preview: Game 3- Duke

duke-logo2

The Crimson Tide will make their road debut in Durham, NC against the Blue Devils of Duke. While Basketball might come to mind when you think of Duke, the football program has begun to make strides under the direction of coach David Cutcliffe.

I reached out to a former Duke Football Student Athlete, Matt Rumsey,  and asked him what his thoughts on the current state of affairs of the program. He said,

"When talking about Duke Football, one must always deal in terms of relative scales.  To most teams and their fans, a 5-7 season in 2009 would not have qualified as a "success", much less "progress" or "moving in the right direction".  However, when your record over the past decade (19-97) warrants your team being legally named the worst in Division I Football, you're forced to reevaluate what qualifies as success.  Having personally played at Duke for 4 years (in which we won 4 games along with 42 losses, 22 of which were part of the nation's longest consecutive losing streak at the time), my definition of "success" transformed from "winning" to "competing" to "looking good stepping off the team bus".  Thankfully, in the short span of 3 years, times have changed.  With the emergence of some upper-tier talent, legitimate support from the university administration, and a guy by the name of David Cutcliffe, Duke Football is no longer the whipping boy of the ACC. Duke is moving back towards the "competing/winning" end of the success spectrum.”

So while most Alabama fans will think of Duke this season as an automatic “W”. Let’s not forget, that last time the Devils made a trip to Bryant Denny, they almost went home with one of the biggest upsets to date. This is now a Duke team that has goals of bowl bids, not just moral victories.

This season will, however, be a tough road for the Devils. They will most likely be led by a first time starter at quarterback, Sean Renfree, who is coming back from tearing his ACL. Renfree missed a large portion of spring ball due to his recovery. Renfree, will however still have wide receivers Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon to throw to. Both were ranked one and two in receptions last season.

In all, Duke is returning a total of nine starters on the offensive side of the ball, and have added true freshman Josh Snead who will add an extra explosiveness in the backfield. The offense for the Blue Devils will definitely have growing pains this season with Renfree and Snead having to make key decisions and plays. The players around them have the experience to help make this task easier.

On the defensive side of the ball the Devils return 6 players, however the defense will have a different look due to Marion Hobby who has taken over play calling on defense due the departure of Mike MacIntyre, who the Tide will see as the coach of San Jose State. The key concern for the defense will fall on the defensive line and their two fifth year seniors Patrick Egboh and Wesley Oglesby. Other than them, the defensive line will be pretty inexperienced and the depth of talent at line positions will also become a factor. Add in the likes of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson barreling through the line and it could be a long day in the trenches for the Devils. As for the linebackers and secondary, the biggest loss might be Vincent Rey at linebacker who lead the team last year with 98 tackles. As with every other team the Tide will play, there is always a question on defense as to who will match up one on one with Julio Jones and handle the speed of the other Tide receivers.

Though Duke has made strides in the right direction, they will have a tough day when the Tide comes into town. Though as before, we know they will throw everything they have at Alabama and leave it all on the field, especially with Cutcliffe running the show. Look for them to challenge for a bowl bid this season, and remember that the days of 22 loses in a row are over for the Devils.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Alabama Sports Hall of Fame will Induct Former Tide DB

This Saturday, The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame will induct 10 athletes into this year’s class. Among them will be former University of Alabama defensive back star, Bobby Johns. Johns is probably most remembered for his three interceptions in the Sugar Bowl against Nebraska in 1967, which is a Sugar Bowl record.

Johns also was named a three time All-SEC selection in 1965, 1966, and 1967. He was also an All-American selection his junior and senior year of 1966 and 1967, and served as co-captain his senior year.

He has been named to the Team of the Decade for the 1960’s and still has his mark on today’s program with the award for the Most Improved Defensive Back named in his honor. The award is given each spring.

Also, he was the coach of the University of West Alabama from 1997- 2000.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Star Jackson Looking to Leave Alabama

Back up quarterback Star Jackson has begun looking into the possibility of transferring from Alabama. Where is he headed you ask? Sounds like he will be heading to Georgia State, who will be facing the Tide this fall at Bryant Denny.

While it is all speculation at the moment, Jackson’s former high school coach shed some light on it saying, “Star is still in the process of getting his release from Alabama, but Georgia State is definitely a possibility for him, definitely one of his options.”

One possible reason for choosing Georgia State is that Star’s former high school assistant coach is on the staff under Bill Curry. There is also no question that Star wants to play quarterback, and his chances of starting at Alabama are small with the solidification of A.J. McCarron in the number two spot.

So, before the season even starts, looks like Georgia State 1 – Alabama 0.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Saban’s Thoughts on Coaching

Every once and a while a coach gives us a little insight into what his approaches to coaching are. Saban himself can be a man of few words, however left us with a killer quote at his Crimson Caravan event last week.

Saban said,"I can't coach players without talent.  I can't coach someone without talent to play at this level.  You have to start with talent...I figured that shit out a long time ago!" 

Though his way with words are truly unique, you have to give him credit for passion, and it makes you feel better about the kids he will be targeting for the new recruitment class. So lesson today…. If you don’t have the talent to play college ball at Alabama, go play at Auburn.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lindy’s Sports Picks Tide

Lindy’s Sports has released their latest preseason Top 25 for college football, and guess who holds the top spot.

If you said the Tide, you are correct. Just add it to the other top rankings so far for Alabama.

Here is the breakdown of the top 5:

  1. Alabama
  2. Boise State
  3. Ohio State
  4. Texas
  5. Florida

Friday, May 14, 2010

Swooshes for All!!

The University of Alabama and Nike have agreed on an eight year extension worth over $30 million for the University in cash and apparel/ equipment. The Tide will receive around $4 million annually, a deal that ranks second only to the University of North Carolina’s deal with Nike. The Capstone will also receive a 12% royalty on all Nike products associated with the school.

Opponent Preview: Game 2- Penn State

150px-Penn_State_Nittany_Lions_svgThe Tide’s second week opponent needs no real introduction and will most likely spur conversations of matchups of the past involving desperation field goal blocks and goal line stands. On September 11th, the Tide will welcome Penn. State who will bring their legendary coach Joe Pa down south. With two big name teams, and two traditions that are probably even bigger, the match up will definitely garner some national attention, and again fuel the debate on which conference reigns in college football.

The Nittany Lions however will be missing some key players, including last year’s starting quarterback Daryll Clark. Clark’s 3,003 yards passing and 24 touchdowns lead the Nittany Lions to an 11-2 season, not to mention a Capital Bowl win over the LSU Tigers. The offense does however return 7 starters from last year including their leading rusher Evan Royster, and top two receivers Derek Moye and Graham Zug. The biggest questions left are who will lead the team under center, and who will protect the quarterback.

This spring did not cement any starters at quarterback, in fact it may have opened the debate even more. The two most probable starters in Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin will have to distance themselves this fall from true freshman Paul Jones, who is starting to see himself as the fan favorite. The chances of Joe Paterno starting a true freshman is slim to none, but if the top two can’t separate themselves it is anybody’s job. As for the starting offensive line, the spring saw some big time shuffling. The offensive line did struggle last year protecting their quarterback and failed to consistently open significant running lanes for its running backs.

On defense, we know Penn State will probably be fine. They do only return 5 starters, but much like Alabama, look for them to fill the holes with some quality talent. In fact, even though the defensive line lost a monster in Jared Odrick in the first round of the NFL draft, there is the potential for their defensive lines to be one of the most consistent units. Also, much like Alabama, they will be a fan favorite back at linebacker from an ACL injury suffered last year. In fact, they will be replacing three starters at linebacker.

Overall on offense, the Tide should have some great matchups go in their favor especially when if comes to Julio Jones on the outside and matching up power in the trenches. While Penn States defense is usually sound, the Alabama offense will still be too much for them to handle. Especially as the game goes on, and they begin to wear the defensive line and linebackers down just in time for Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson to be at their best. As for the matchup for the Tide’s defense, it will be a long day for whoever is calling the plays. With the talent  the Tide has on the defensive and at line linebacker, matched with our secondary’s speed (who looked like they were playing at  mach II the entire A-Day game), Saban will again come up with multiple looks that will force the Nittany Lions offensive line to struggle and create confusion.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Opponent Preview: Game 1-San Jose State

sanjose_spartans300x180 The Tide will open their 2010 campaign against the San Jose State Spartans on September 4th. The Spartans will be lead by their new head coach, Mike MacIntyre, who was a former Duke assistant. While Spartan faithful look forward to the new start, it is hard to overlook just how bad this team is. The Spartans were last in the WAC last year, winning only 1 game in conference and losing their other 7 in conference bouts. Overall, the Spartans had a 2-10 season last year. In fact, the Spartans have only had two winning seasons in the last ten, which most likely contributed to the MacIntyre’s new gig.

While spring practice has been mostly learning a new system under a new coach, we will also have to wait until closer to game time to know who exactly will be running the team on the field. In fact, the only real returning skill position player who has his job safe is the Spartan’s tight end Ryan Otten. With the new system being put into place, the offense will be shifting from a spread offense we usually see out west to a more traditional system which will try to feature Otten. In San Jose’s spring game, Otten caught three passes for 92 yards, two of which were for touchdowns.

As for other skill positions on offense, the returning senior quarterback is Jordan La Secla who threw for 1926 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2009. He also threw 11 interceptions and had a quarterback rating 116.7. Though he comes of the 2009 season as the number one, the Spartans do have a juco transfer in Matt Faulkner who will challenge for the job this spring and in the fall. If the passing offense was bad, the word on the street is the running offense is even worse. In fact, SJS recruited 3 running backs to join the team in 2010, all who will try for the job. The incoming freshman with the best chance is Forrest Hightower. Last season, their leading rusher was Lamon Muldrow who ran for a team leading 592 yards and three touchdowns.

On defense, the Spartans run a 4-3 base, however the defensive line is probably their worst unit on the field. They have only one returning starter, and most of the other lineman were hurt this spring. Their rush defense was ranked 119th in the country. And with the Tide’s potential on the ground, their first game will be a challenging one. While MacIntyre wants a more attacking offense this year, with the potential the Tide has on the offensive side of the ball, this game could get ugly.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Alabama again a Pre-season Favorite

The University of Alabama once again had its name atop another pre-season ranking.

Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com has the Tide at the top of his top 25 rankings, ahead also of four other SEC teams.

The Five other SEC teams to make the list are:

  • Florida: 4th
  • Arkansas: 17th
  • LSU: 18
  • Auburn: 21

Dodd also had the tide number one going into spring practice. While we shouldn’t put too much into the preseason polls, it does look good to have the Tide on top once again.

Roll Tide!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jacksonville adds its name to host cities for Tide Football

While speaking at a Crimson Caravan event, Coach Nick Saban announced that the city of Jacksonville has shown interest in hosting the University of Alabama as a neutral site in upcoming seasons. This is now three cities, including Dallas TX, and Atlanta, GA, who has seen great success hosting the Chick-fil-A kickoff game for the last couple of seasons.

Saban did not expand on the subject into who the Tide’s future opponents would be, however he is probably excited about returning to Jacksonville to avenge his lose to Florida State in 2007.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

How bad do Alabama fans love the Tide?

What is the best way to gauge how much a program’s fan base cares about their team? How about counting the number of fans that show up to their teams spring scrimmage games.

This year, no other school in the country had more fans show up than the University of Alabama. The A-Day game brought 91,312 people through the gates at Bryant Denny. So, again, how bad do Alabama fans love their Tide? It is clear they love them.

In close second place was Nebraska, who had 77,936 cornhuskers show up. That’s more than 13,000 less that showed up in Tuscaloosa.

Making the top five also, were Ohio State, Auburn, and Penn State. If you combine the Alabama and Auburn crowds, that over 155,000 people who attended their respected games, by the way that’s about 3.5% of the state of Alabama’s population.