Saturday, December 29, 2012

Barrett Jones remains a spectator at Tide practice

In just over one week Alabama will face Notre Dame in the BCS national championship game. What’s the contextual translation? Alabama center Barrett Jones has just over one week to get healthy.

Jones, who suffered an injury to his left foot during the early stages of the SEC championship game, has been relegated to a stationary bike while his teammates prepare for the Fighting Irish.

Although Jones did play through his foot ailment for essentially three quarters against Georgia, his lack of recovery during Alabama’s “down period,” coupled with his lack of practice participation, certainly indicates the injury is significant.

When Alabama returned to the practice field in mid December, Nick Saban announced that Jones would miss the first five practice sessions and would likely return when the Crimson Tide resumed practice after Christmas break. Well, Christmas has come and gone, ‘Bama is back on the practice field, but Jones continues to pedal the aforementioned stationary bike.

In Jones’ absence, redshirt freshman Ryan Kelly has worked with the first-team offense at the center position. Kelly, a three-star prospect in the class of 2011, will have to be “game ready” to compete against the top-ranked Irish given the current status of Jones.

In an ideal situation, Alabama’s most versatile offensive lineman would return to practice next week and play in the national title game with no ill effects, but right now, that scenario appears unlikely. Having said that, time will provide the definitive answer, because Alabama will arrive in Miami in just over 96 hours.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Brandon Hill reaffirms verbal commitment to ‘Bama

Offensive tackle Brandon Hill, originally a member of Alabama’s 2012 signing class, has recommitted to the Crimson Tide following a stay at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia.

Hill, who failed to qualify academically at Alabama in the fall of 2012, enrolled at the aforementioned prep school and subsequently re-opened his college recruitment.

In November, Hill gave his verbal to Hugh Freeze and the Ole Miss Rebels, but reports began to surface on Dec. 25 that Hill would honor his original commitment to the University of Alabama and enroll in January.

With his verbal pledge to the Tide, Hill becomes the 21st commitment in respect to Alabama’s 2013 signing class.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Robert Foster gives verbal to Alabama

Central Valley High School (Monaca, PA) wide receiver Robert Foster has given his verbal commitment to the University of Alabama for 2013.

Foster, who stands 6-foot-3 and tops the scale at 170-pounds, selected the Crimson Tide over the in-state Pittsburgh Panthers.

Listed as a four-star prospect per, Foster is regarded as the 10th best wide receiver in the 2013 national class, and the fourth-best prospect in the state of Pennsylvania.

With his pledge to the Crimson Tide, Foster becomes the 20th verbal commitment in respect to Alabama’s 2013 signing class.


-Robert Foster: Single-game highlights

Thursday, December 20, 2012

C.J. Mosley to return for senior season

Nick Saban met the media earlier today following Alabama's Thursday practice session, and provided reporters, as well as fans of the Crimson Tide, with some significant news in regards to the 2013 season.

C.J. Mosley, Alabama’s most decorated linebacker in respect to the current roster, and “arguably” the staple of the Crimson Tide defense, will return to Tuscaloosa in 2013 to complete his senior season on the gridiron.

Mosley’s decision to return to school comes only a week after quarterback AJ McCarron announced that he would also be returning for his senior campaign.

In respect to the 2012 season, Mosley leads the Crimson Tide with a total of 99 tackles, including four sacks and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Road to 15: Alabama begins title game prep

The Alabama football team has returned to the practice field, and preparations for the BCS national championship game are officially underway.

Although the initial practice sessions are dedicated to basic fundamentals as a way to “shake off the rust,” the team is most definitely back in action as the days draw closer to January 7.

As of now, the real story concerning the team is the injury and recovery status regarding a plethora of players. Center Barrett Jones, who suffered a foot injury against Georgia, a setback that was not disclosed until after the game, began the Monday practice session adorning a black non-contact jersey while riding a stationary bike. As for his left foot, it was casted from foot to mid-shin.

In his post-practice press conference Nick Saban said the action, in respect to Jones, was for precautionary measures, but also confirmed that Alabama’s most versatile lineman would be out of action until the Tide resume practice following the Christmas break. In terms of practice time, Jones will miss the first five sessions, yesterday being the initial session.

Other injury news

-Nose guard Jesse Williams wore a white protective wrap over his right knee, but did participate in drills. Williams injured the knee during the second half against Georgia.

-Safety Jarrick Williams, who suffered a torn ACL in August, returned to the field for the first time since the injury. Adorning a black non-contact jersey, Williams was in full-pads and participating in drills.

-Wide receiver Kenny Bell and running back Jalston Fowler rode the stationary bike during the Monday session. Bell continues to progress nicely after suffering a broken tibia against Auburn, and Fowler continues his lengthier road to recovery after sustaining a serious knee injury against Western Kentucky in the initial month of the season.

Additional reading

-Alabama center Barrett Jones shrugs off his foot injury

-A classic matchup: Saban speaks on the epic history of Alabama and Notre Dame

-Alabama football returns to practice: Saban not hot on Cleveland

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Crimson Notes 12/16/12

While Alabama football, in terms of on-field action, is in a major lull as fans eagerly await the national championship game, the program did make news this weekend in a variety of ways, for a variety of reasons.

Pruitt to Florida State

Jeremy Pruitt, one of Alabama’s leading recruiters and secondary coach, has agreed to become the new defensive coordinator at Florida State, per several media reports. Pruitt, who played at Alabama under head coach Gene Stallings, has climbed the coaching ladder in grand fashion.

Prior to his arrival at Alabama in 2007, Pruitt worked as an assistant coach under Rush Propst at Hoover High School and was featured prominently in the MTV series “Two-A-Days” which documented Hoover football.

Pruitt’s move to FSU was made possible when Mark Stoops left the program, and his position as defensive coordinator, to accept the head coaching job at Kentucky.

Cook gives verbal to ‘Bama

In recruiting news, Spanish Fort High School defensive back Jonathan Cook has given his verbal to Alabama for 2013. Cook, who had been verbally committed to Nebraska since August, “flipped” to the Tide after receiving a scholarship offer. Describing it as a “dream come true to play for Alabama,” Cook is expected to play a pivotal role in the Crimson Tide secondary during his time at the Capstone.

Del Rio to walk-on in 2013

Luke Del Rio, son of NFL journeyman coach Jack Del Rio, has announced his intentions to join the Alabama football program as a walk-on. Del Rio, a three-star quarterback, recently broke his verbal commitment to Oklahoma State due in large measure to the departure of the OSU offensive coordinator.

One could easily regard Del Rio as a “steal” due to the fact he held, and still holds, various scholarship offers from major Division I programs.

Dial not suspended for controversial hit

Courtesy of an official ruling from the SEC, Alabama learned Friday that defensive lineman Quinton Dial would not be suspended for his controversial hit on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. Dial’s “action” will be handled internally, but in respect to a suspension, the conference felt that video footage of the hit in question did not warrant league appointed punishment.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The bow tie lives…McCarron will return in 2013

In an age where early departures for the NFL make headlines, Alabama fans can rejoice in a headline due to the contrary.

AJ McCarron, arguably the most gifted quarterback to play at the Capstone since the likes of Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler, has announced that he will return to the University of Alabama for his senior season.

Coupled with his undeniable skills at the quarterback position, mixed with a charismatic personality, McCarron has become the certifiable “face” of the current Alabama football team. One could easily draw the conclusion, especially in this era of social media, that McCarron is quite possibly the most popular and sought-after player in modern Crimson Tide history.

AJ McCarron adorns his signature bow tie
prior to an Alabama game

As the lone quarterback signed by Alabama in the class of 2009, AJ McCarron, the once heralded four-star prospect and current redshirt junior, will earn his undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama this Saturday.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lacy and Yeldon hold the “crystal” key for 'Bama

The Alabama Crimson Tide average 224 rushing yards per contest (20th in the nation) and that average is due in colossal measure to the output of junior Eddie Lacy, and true freshman T.J. Yeldon.

While it never hurts to run behind what is considered the best offensive line in the nation, both Lacy and Yeldon have shown their ability to make yards after contact and seemingly turn minimal gains into explosive plays.

In what has proven to be the ideal complement of talent, the success of Lacy and Yeldon has allowed the Alabama passing attack to flourish, which has given AJ McCarron the platform to showcase his skills. Both McCarron, and true freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper, have played “starring roles” in the Crimson Tide offense which has been “opened up” courtesy of a potent rushing attack.

While the Notre Dame Fighting Irish also possess a nice mix of run and pass, the prevailing consensus suggests that Alabama’s physicality on the ground is in a different “league” than that of the Irish. Couple that assumption with Alabama’s offensive line, and the postulation does form a more than plausible conclusion.

Similar numerical results (stats) don’t always indicate the entire picture, especially when the “picture” is comprised of different levels of competition, and individual talent.

One can easily deduce that if Lacy and Yeldon achieve the team average mark of 224 yards, Notre Dame could find themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

Season superlatives

Eddie Lacy: 184 carries - 1,182 yards - 6.4 yards per carry - 16 TDs
T.J. Yeldon: 154 carries - 1,000 yards - 6.5 yards per carry - 11 TDs

Both Lacy and Yeldon have individually rushed for 100 yards-plus on four different occasions in 2012, and both set career-high rushing marks against Georgia in the SEC championship game. Lacy rushed for 181 yards, while Yeldon earned 153.

Additional reading

-Alabama has four AP All-Americans
-Demand for Alabama tickets to BCS Championship Game far greater than 2009

Russell Athletic

Friday, December 7, 2012

Media and retailers take "dust rag" to Notre Dame

If you’re in your teens or early 20s, you can’t honestly remember a time when Notre Dame football was nationally relevant. Sure, you’ve seen them on television countless times due to their contract with NBC, but the storied program known for leprechauns, golden helmets, and Knute Rockne, have been nothing more than a “history book” since the early 1990s.

Since 1991, all Notre Dame home football games
have been aired exclusively on NBC

What are the younger fans missing? Ironically, what they’re missing has very little to do with the team, but everything to do with the “hype machine” that has been buried like an old time capsule...until now.

In 2012, the “hate” is directed towards the mighty SEC, and their current crown jewel, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Unless you’re a fan of the Tide, your disdain for Alabama runs as deep as an ocean while you wait for someone, anyone, outside of the SEC, to dethrone the juggernaut that has been built under head coach Nick Saban. SEC fatigue and Alabama fatigue are the two items that comprise a grand recipe for abhorrence in 2012.

Saban is attempting to capture back-to-back titles
at the University of Alabama

Enter Notre Dame…

Disdain and hatred, you say? Media darlings, you say? For those old enough to remember a different time, the only school in the country…was Notre Dame. Current “fans” who’ve grown tired with the SEC dominance of college football, obviously missed out on the late 80s and early 90s. The “era” that saw Notre Dame merchandise in virtually every “sports store” in the nation, regardless of store location. Notre Dame was the “home team” in SEC markets, yes…SEC markets.

Championship hat from 1988

Notre Dame, home of Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, you see, he was “the man” the last time Notre Dame held this stage, and Lou Holtz was the wise and fearless leader of college football. The Irish were college football, and everyone else, well; they were simply the “other teams” battling for second place. While certainly not the case in the literal sense, the media did a fantastic job at painting a "slanted" picture.

Although the Fighting Irish only won the national title on one occasion (1988) during their most recent glory era, the time period, as aforementioned, will be mostly remembered for domineering media coverage, propaganda, bandwagon fandom, and merchandise sales that rivaled anything the college sports world had ever seen.

Back in my day, you weren’t considered “cool” unless you had Notre Dame apparel. Only the rise of Florida State, under legendary coach Bobby Bowden, even came close to that of Notre Dame in terms of social attention during this time. In the current age, young people wear the colors of the team(s) they root for, twenty years ago; kids wore Notre Dame gear, even if they rooted for Alabama. No, I’m not joking…

Raghib Ismail graces the cover of a 1991
edition of Sports Illustrated

What is the underlying statement?

Notre Dame is back, and congratulations to them for an amazing 2012 season, however, nobody could be happier, than the media. The same media who propped them up to seemingly unreachable heights twenty years ago, have waited twenty years to bring them back from obscurity.

For the younger crowd who’ve waited for someone to interrupt the mighty SEC, you got your wish in terms of media coverage, but the older crowd will tell you, Notre Dame is not the team you “prayed” for. History has documented, that when Notre Dame is “back,” the media circus that surrounds them is more suffocating and toxic than any SEC bias.

Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame, the media is waiting to chant your name!

Alabama fatigue? Stomach 30 days of Notre Dame, and then call me with your regrets...

Additional reading material

-Why I won’t be cheering for old Notre Dame
-The problem with Notre Dame football
-NBC Sports to kick off 2013 with 10 hours of Notre Dame football on 1/1

Edwin Watts Golf

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Jones uses football platform for higher purpose

Courtesy of the website, Alabama center Barrett Jones has been given yet another outlet to share his dedication to family, football…and faith.

The site, which promotes the good deeds of those who serve God, has provided visitors with reading materials and videos which are devoted entirely to the Alabama football star, and his testimony of faith. In the offerings, Jones documents his journey in a video introduction that provides a glimpse into his life through his mission work, and his view on the game of football through the “eyes” of faith.

Barrett Jones has played a vital role on the Alabama football team, not only this season, but every season he has adorned the crimson helmet. Regardless of personal faith and conviction, take a moment to explore the life of one of the greatest, and most versatile, offensive linemen in Alabama football history.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Dial’s status in question after controversial hit

The Alabama Crimson Tide will play for the national championship, but the playing status of defensive lineman Quinton Dial is very much in jeopardy.

With less than two minutes to play in the initial half of the SEC title game, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was intercepted by Alabama safety Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix. As Clinton-Dix returned the ball, Murray, who was physically “absent” in respect to the latter stages of the play, was ferociously “steamrolled” by Dial which drew the ire of many, most notably Gary Danielson of CBS Sports.

While a penalty was not called on the field, the hit, which did appear unnecessary given the flow of the play, has garnered plenty of attention.

The NCAA has clear rules when it comes to “targeting” and striking a “defenseless” player in the neck or head. Based on the replay, it would appear that Dial did indeed violate the NCAA rule in question.

What does the SEC have to say?

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive will have to review the tape and make a final decision, but according to Steve Shaw, the SEC coordinator of officials, a penalty should have been called on Dial for his actions.

The court of public opinion, has had, and will continue to have, many “verdicts” on this matter, but in the end, Dial’s fate in respect to his participation in the BCS national championship game, will rest in the hands of Mike Slive.

The hit in question…

TomTom Go Confidently

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Alabama tames Georgia, wins SEC crown

In “arguably” the most dramatic and finest SEC championship game in conference history, the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs by the score of 32-28.

Courtesy of a contest that will be talked about for years in the annals of SEC history, the Crimson Tide not only captured their first SEC crown since 2009, and 23rd in program history, but also punched their ticket to the BCS national title game in Miami.

The run to glory

With so many dramatic moments in the SEC title game, it was simply the Alabama offensive line and the rushing attack that made the difference, especially in the second half of play. Although many, and rightfully so, will reference AJ McCarron’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper (who finished the contest with 127 yards receiving) as the game winning play, it was the overall consistency of the Tide running game that chewed the clock, and allowed Alabama to wear down the Georgia defense.

In respect to rushing superlatives, Eddie Lacy rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns, while T.J. Yeldon garnered 153 yards, and one touchdown. As a team, the Crimson Tide combined for 350 rushing yards, and won the time of possession battle by the tune of 37:35 to 22:25.

>>>Complete stats and scoring summary<<<

The importance of team

The 2012 Alabama football team is not as talented as the “title teams” of 2009 or 2011, but when it comes to mental and physical toughness, the 2012 squad is without question the most resilient in recent memory. When the chips were down, Alabama came together as a team to beat the Georgia Bulldogs, and that quality of unity, while seemingly simple, is often a lost and unachieved concept.

Tweeting up the party

In a departure from the standard, on the occasion of such a significant victory, a collection of “tweets” from various Alabama football players have been compiled in order to enhance the importance of the moment.

The 2012 SEC championship game was certainly a game for the ages, and a contest teeming with raw emotion. Why “talk up” the players, when they can express themselves…



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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

UGA/Alabama: Stats, C. Black, and the ideal analysis

The following information is simply a mere glimpse at the “mirror image” that is Alabama/Georgia from an offensive standpoint. Granted neither offense will face each other in the direct and literal sense, but it is always intriguing when two potent offenses do battle.

In many respects, the “roughly” identical statistics convey the message that defense will be just as pivotal as advertised.

The question is not which offense will prevail, but which defense will fail to execute…

Points per game

Georgia: 38 (17th nationally)
Alabama: 39 (15th nationally)


Aaron Murray: 213-of-320 (66%) - 3,201 Yards - 30 TDs - 7 INTs

AJ McCarron: 178-of-265 (67%) - 2,507 Yards – 25 TDs – 2 INTs

Primary running backs

Eddie Lacy - 164 Carries – 1,001 Yards – 6.1 Yards Per Carry – 14 TDs
T.J. Yeldon – 127 Carries – 847 Yards – 6.6 Yards Per Carry – 10 TDs

Totals: 291 Carries – 1,848 Yards – 6.35 Yards Per Carry – 24 TDs

Todd Gurley – 176 Carries – 1,138 Yards – 6.5 Yards Per Carry – 14 TDs
Keith Marshall – 107 Carries – 720 Yards – 6.7 Yards Per Carry – 8 TDs

Totals: 283 Carries – 1,858 Yards – 6.6 Yards Per Carry – 22 TDs

Primary receivers

Tavarres King
34 Receptions – 704 Yards – 20.7 Yards Per Reception – 8 TDs

Malcolm Mitchell
36 Receptions – 532 Yards – 14.8 Yards Per Reception – 4 TDs

Totals: 70 Receptions – 1,236 Yards – 17.75 Yards Per Reception – 12 TDs

Amari Cooper
45 Receptions – 767 Yards – 17 Yards Per Reception – 8 TDs

Kevin Norwood
26 Receptions – 395 Yards – 15.2 Yards Per Reception - 4 TDs

Totals: 71 Receptions – 1,162 Yards – 16.2 Yards Per Reception – 12 TDs

Injuries (receivers out for the season)
Marlon Brown
27 Receptions - 469 Yards – 17.4 Yards Per Reception - 4 TDs
(Torn ACL left knee – Ole Miss - Nov. 3)

Michael Bennett
24 Receptions - 345 Yards - 14.4 Yards Per Reception - 4 TDs
(Torn ACL right knee – Injury sustained in practice prior to the contest with South Carolina)

Even though Brown and Bennett were injured several games ago, both players still “rank” third and fourth on Georgia’s statistical receiving list.

Kenny Bell
17 Receptions - 431 Yards – 25.4 Yards Per Reception – 3 TDs
(Broken left tibia – Auburn)

DeAndrew White
8 Receptions - 105 Yards – 13.1 Yards Per Reception – 2 TDs
(Torn ACL right knee – Ole Miss)

Bell and White are Alabama’s second and eighth leading receivers this season. One can venture to say that White would have been a “top five” statistical receiver at this stage in 2012 sans the injury.

Collegiate debut of Chris Black

As mentioned earlier this week, and what was confirmed earlier today by head coach Nick Saban, freshman wide receiver Chris Black has been cleared, and given the proper approval, to make his collegiate debut this Saturday.

Not only will Black provide Alabama with depth at receiver, but he will also provide the Georgia defense with an “unknown” threat to defend.

The “nuts and bolts” of it all

In respect to an overall game analysis, look no further than this article courtesy of “BanditRef” via The content found in this piece is “arguably” the best anyone will unearth this week. Job well done!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tide injuries open unlikely door for Chris Black

When wide receiver Chris Black injured his shoulder at the “Fan Day” public practice session in early August, it was essentially a foregone conclusion that the highly-touted freshman would be lost for the 2012 season. However, with the SEC championship game just days away, Black “could” make his Crimson Tide debut, on the grandest SEC stage.

Following surgery, and the necessary rehab, Black “quietly” returned to the practice field in early November. Adorning a black non-contact jersey, Black’s return was nothing more than a “feel good” footnote that dotted the end of most every practice report. While Black was indeed back on the field, Tide fans would have to wait until September of 2013 to see him in “real game” action.

And then everything changed…

While the season-ending knee injury to DeAndrew White (in late September) was a big loss, it wasn’t a critical loss. The Crimson Tide continued on with the core group of Amari Cooper, Kenny Bell, Christion Jones, and Kevin Norwood. However, in the second quarter of the contest with Auburn, Kenny Bell broke his tibia. This injury opened the door for Chris Black to play…this season.

When the Tide took the field Monday afternoon, in preparation for Georgia, Black was wearing a white jersey and working with the second-team offense. Cleared for contact and working with an “on-field” unit, rather than the scout team, was, and is, certainly a sign that Black could make his collegiate debut this Saturday.

Alabama beat writer for the Tuscaloosa News

While participating in Saturday’s contest will dissolve his redshirt and reduce his entire freshman season to a mere two games, if the proper channels grant approval, and Black can make a positive impact, then he will most likely play. The Crimson Tide have an “ace in the hole” in respect to Black. Logic would suggest that Georgia could have trouble defending a player they’ve never seen. Black has never played in a college football game, so Georgia has nothing to go on.

If Chris Black plays a vital role in an Alabama victory, removing the redshirt could be a decision that will go down in Crimson Tide football lore.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Alabama routs Auburn, punches ticket to Atlanta

The ball was kicked, and the game was over…quite literally.

In what can only be described as utter decimation, the Alabama Crimson Tide claimed the 77th “Iron Bowl” by the score of 49-0. The contest put an end to Auburn’s 3-9 season, and advanced Alabama to the SEC championship game.

Prior to the clash with Auburn, a previous blog post referred to the contest as nothing more than a “pay win” for Alabama, and that is exactly what transpired. Auburn was essentially Western Carolina…part two. For the second straight week Alabama led 42-0 at the half, and for the second straight week Alabama won 49-0. The Crimson Tide, in an “eerie” turn, even went as far as to hold Auburn to 163 total yards…the same amount achieved by Western Carolina.

How lopsided was the game? The Auburn offense garnered seven first downs, while the Alabama offense mounted seven touchdowns. AJ McCarron, in limited action, threw four touchdown passes, while Eddie Lacy ran for two, and T.J. Yeldon rushed for another.

The 49-0 triumph is the second largest margin of victory in “Iron Bowl” history. Alabama’s 55-0 smackdown of Auburn in 1948 still tops the list, but had Nick Saban allowed the starters to play even 10 more minutes of game action, the record would have certainly been broken. Truth be told, the 49-0 victory could have easily been 77-0.

On another note concerning series history, the Auburn offense hasn’t scored a single point since the 2010 meeting in Tuscaloosa. In that contest, Cam Newton led a ferocious Auburn comeback to capture the victory, and eventually propel the Tigers to their first national championship in more than 50 years.

With yesterday’s win, Alabama now leads the all-time series by a count of 42-34-1. The Crimson Tide have won four of the previous five meetings, and two in a row.

>>>Complete stats and scoring summary<<<

Kenny Bell suffers broken leg

The only dark cloud in an otherwise ideal day came in the second quarter of play when wide receiver Kenny Bell suffered a broken tibia while attempting to run block for T.J. Yeldon.

In his postgame press conference, head coach Nick Saban formerly addressed the situation and detailed that Bell’s injury will require surgery (rod insertion) and Bell will be out for five to six weeks.

SEC championship game

While a victory over the hapless Auburn Tigers was essentially a foregone conclusion, the 49-0 "trashing" did cement a trip to Atlanta for the SEC championship game. The Crimson Tide will tangle with the Georgia Bulldogs for not only the SEC title, but a spot in the BCS national championship game.

The Crimson Tide, winners of the SEC Western Division, will compete for the SEC title for the first time since 2009, and will also play someone other than Florida for the first time. Alabama met Florida in the inaugural SEC title game in 1992, then again in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2008, and 2009.

Saturday’s meeting between Georgia/Alabama will be the first contest since the infamous “blackout” game in September of 2008. On that night Alabama defeated Georgia 41-30 in a contest that catapulted the Crimson Tide into national title contention.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

IRON BOWL '12: Atrocious Tigers take final swing

With one game remaining in the 2012 regular season, the only thing that stands between Alabama and a birth in the SEC championship game, is quite possibly the worst Auburn team in program history.

While the “Iron Bowl” is, and will always be, one of the most storied rivalries in college football, the current momentum favors Alabama. The Crimson Tide have won three of the previous four meetings, lead the all-time series 41-34-1, and will enter the 77th clash favored by more than 30 points.

As for the Auburn Tigers, the 2012 season has been atrocious. AU has a record of 3-8, with all three victories courtesy of “pay wins” against Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State, and Alabama A&M. In fact, the Tigers were taken to overtime by LA-Monroe, so things could actually be worse, as difficult as that is to imagine.

Auburn has talent, but lack of cohesion and player development within the current system have been the most glaring issues. The Tigers have used a total of three quarterbacks this season, and the third selection, Jonathan Wallace, is the current starter. Both Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley each had a turn at the offense, but failed miserably. When the third-stringer is the best option, someone has failed to analyze talent.

In respect to the offense as a whole, the Tigers are more “traditional” thanks to new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. Running backs Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb have been utilized in the more conventional sense under the new system. In respect to productivity, Mason, one of the best running backs in the SEC, is only 80 rushing yards shy of 1,000 for the season. The duo of Mason and McCalebb have combined for 14 of Auburn’s 16 rushing touchdowns in 2012.
While the quarterback position has been a revolving door, Emory Blake has been as solid as ever at wide receiver. Blake leads AU in receiving with 47 receptions for 733 yards, including three touchdowns. When it comes to the “deserves better” category, look no further than one of the most productive receivers in recent Auburn history.
Although one could attempt to “deeply analyze” this contest, it would arguably only be done to promote the rivalry, not the individual game. Auburn has three victories on the season, each of them coming in the aforementioned “pay win” fashion. Oddly enough, the 2012 edition of the “Iron Bowl” is shaping up to be a “pay win” for Alabama.

At this stage in the season, Auburn could just as easily pass themselves off as UAB or any other lower-tier FBS program. Alabama is a great team, and quite possibly the best team in college football, but the 77th “Iron Bowl” requires no additional talk, not because Alabama is the best thing since Thanksgiving turkey, but simply because Auburn…is that bad.

Come Saturday night, Alabama will be SEC Western Division champs, and the Auburn Tigers will be looking for a new head coach, and a new identity.

Alabama 45
Auburn 7

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tide rolls Western Carolina, jumps to No. 2 in polls

Eddie Lacy rushed for three touchdowns, and AJ McCarron threw for another, as the Alabama Crimson Tide rolled over the Catamounts of Western Carolina by the tune of 49-0.

The “pay win” over WCU was nothing more than a glorified scrimmage that allowed the Tide to empty the bench, and also work on essential fundamentals.

Alabama, although against lesser competition, garnered 460 yards of total offense, while holding the Catamounts to a mere 163. The defensive highlight of the afternoon came in the latter stages of the first half when defensive back Deion Belue recovered a fumble and raced 57-yards for a Tide touchdown.

With a record of 10-1, 6-1 in the SEC, the Crimson Tide must defeat the Auburn Tigers next week to clinch the SEC Western Division, and a spot in the SEC title game.

>>>Complete stats and scoring summary<<<

‘Bama back in title hunt

Alabama’s victory over Western Carolina proved to be the “appetizer” in a day of college football that Tide fans won’t soon forget. In what could be considered a replay of last season, Alabama, yet again, received the help they needed in order to have a “straight shot” to the BCS title game.

By the time Saturday turned into Sunday, Kansas State had been destroyed by a mediocre (record wise) Baylor team, and the Oregon Ducks had been ousted by Stanford in overtime. Alabama entered the weekend needing two of the top three teams to fall before the regular season came to a close, and what the Crimson Tide received were two of the top three teams losing…in a matter of four hours.

With new resolve, Alabama will need to defeat the Auburn Tigers, for the aforementioned reasons, and also defeat the Georgia Bulldogs to not only win the SEC title, but to clinch a spot in the national championship game. For Alabama, and what they can control, the situation has not changed, however, what has changed, is the control of winning without the need of outside assistance in the form of other teams.

While the loss to Texas A&M was certainly heartbreaking, that game, and loss, have essentially been erased courtesy of last night’s events. Alabama is back in command, and two victories away from back-to-back appearances in the national title game.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Western Carolina/Alabama: Back to basics for Tide

While the schedule shows that Alabama plays Western Carolina this Saturday, most will tell you that Alabama has a date with discipline and fundamentals this Saturday.

The Crimson Tide, 9-1 overall and No. 4 in the BCS, will need to sharpen the “basics” if they want to accomplish something of major significance this season.

LSU and Texas A&M are two very fine football teams, but lack of discipline, especially on the defensive side of the football, almost cost Alabama back-to-back games. In order to move forward in a positive way, the Crimson Tide must return to the essentials that once propelled them to the nation’s highest ranking.

Nick Saban coaches and preaches a certain “standard” of performance, and when that standard is not met, Alabama can look like a very average football team. The second half at LSU, and the first quarter against Texas A&M, are the most obvious examples.

Western Carolina, out of the Southern Conference, will enter the contest with Alabama with a record of 1-9. Their lone victory of the 2012 campaign came in the first game of the season against Mars Hill. While a Catamount loss to the Crimson Tide is inevitable, this game for Alabama is not about who they play…but rather how they play.

The first game of the “new” Alabama football season begins Saturday morning…

Alabama 49
Western Carolina 0

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Alabama refocuses, fans begin scoreboard watch

Courtesy of the 29-24 loss to Texas A&M, the Alabama Crimson Tide have been ousted from the top of the BCS standings, and currently find themselves holding steady at No. 4.

With Kansas State standing tall as the new BCS No. 1, the one-loss Tide will now find it paramount to finish victorious in respect to their own schedule, but also hope that at least two of the top three teams suffer a loss. While the Crimson Tide players will focus on what they can control, a large majority of Alabama fans will openly cheer for a little help.

Excluding Alabama at No. 4, here is a look at the remaining schedules for the current top-three BCS teams.

1) Kansas State

Nov. 17 @ Baylor
Dec. 1 Texas

2) Oregon

Nov. 17 Stanford
Nov. 24 @ Oregon State
Nov. 30 Pac-12 Championship Game

3) Notre Dame

Nov. 17 Wake Forest
Nov. 24 @ USC

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Manziel, Aggies topple top-ranked Tide

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel accounted for 345 yards and two touchdowns, as the Aggies shocked the college football world with a 29-24 victory over Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

In a game that Alabama never led, the Aggies jumped out to a quick 20-0 lead, and the Crimson Tide found themselves relegated to playing catch-up the rest of the way.

Manziel kept the Tide defense guessing at every turn, and used his legs, and wide receiver Ryan Swope, to torment the defense much of the afternoon. For the game, the aforementioned Swope was on the receiving end of 11 Manziel passes for 111 yards and one touchdown.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, who had yet to be intercepted in 2012, threw two picks against the Aggies, both of which came at critical times in the game.

While the initial stages of the contest were dominated by the Aggies, the second half was a rollercoaster of emotion for everyone involved. The drama reached a climax when Alabama, trailing 29-24 in the final minutes of the game, garnered a first-and-goal at the Texas A&M six-yard line courtesy of an AJ McCarron 54-yard pass to Kenny Bell. The four plays that followed proved to be heartbreaking for the Tide, and monumental for the Aggies.

In a sequence that could be analyzed for days, the Crimson Tide, by many accounts, ran a series of inexplicable plays. With only six yards to go and four possible downs to achieve those six yards, Alabama only ran one designed run play. Following a scramble by McCarron, which set-up fourth-and-goal from the two, McCarron was subsequently intercepted at the goal line, to effectively end the game.

With arguably the best offensive line in the nation, and two of the most talented running backs in the league, the Tide became “pass happy” in an effort to get six yards, with four downs allotted.

While Alabama will most certainly fall in the standings, the Crimson Tide, now 9-1 overall, and 6-1 in the SEC, can clinch the SEC Western Division with a victory over Auburn. If victorious, the Tide will play for the SEC title for the first time since 2009, and will do so against the Georgia Bulldogs.

In respect to the national title, hope is small, but hope is not lost. Sounds like 2011, eh?

Physical and mental healing is paramount for Alabama. While so much is left to play for, so much could also be lost without taking the necessary measures.

>>>Complete stats and scoring summary<<<

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mental and physical fortitude imperative for Alabama

Has Alabama recovered from the LSU victory? Has Alabama recovered emotionally and physically from the most dramatic and grueling game of the season?

What do the above questions have to do with Texas A&M? Potentially everything…

Pundits often refer to a “hangover” when a once dominate team comes off a loss, but what about a currently dominating team…coming off a win?

Couple every question with the fact Texas A&M has a solid offensive line, a dynamic offense, solid running backs, and one of the most gifted dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, and Alabama could be in for tears of defeat, rather than tears from an emotional victory.

If psychology is your study, this contest is ideal. Alabama is the better team, but will the Crimson Tide have enough mental and physical fortitude to leave Tiger Stadium in the rear-view mirror? Playing from the “neck up” has potentially never been so critical for a Crimson Tide team under the guidance of Nick Saban.

Texas A&M has faced two quality defenses this season in Florida and LSU. The Aggies have lost two games this season, one to Florida, and the other to LSU. Coincidence? No…

For as fruitful as the A&M offense has been, Florida was able to hold the Aggies to 17 points, while LSU limited quarterback Johnny Manziel, and the A&M offense, to 19 points.

Denard Robinson is the closest thing the Alabama defense has seen to Manziel, and it will help them come Saturday afternoon. Expect Alabama to blitz less, if any, and allow Manziel to stay in the pocket. While A&M has capable receivers, and though Manziel is a respectable passer, the Crimson Tide would much rather have “Johnny Football” being forced to make a throw, rather than being forced to run.

Physicality will be the name of the game, and Alabama, while beaten and battered courtesy of a “slobberknocker” with LSU, will have enough to prevail, but the task will be daunting, given the entire spectrum of recent events.

Once the horn sounds to conclude this contest, the “Alabama hasn’t played anyone” crowd, can officially go for a very long walk…

Alabama 31
Texas A&M 17

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Texas A&M/UA: Manziel leads dynamic Aggie offense

While the Alabama Crimson Tide are only days removed from arguably the most dramatic victory in program history, the top-ranked team in the nation must recover both mentally and physically, just in time for yet another daunting task.

Enter Texas A&M…

While aesthetically, and perhaps physically different than LSU, the Crimson Tide defense will have to combat the most dynamic offense in the SEC, which is led by the most dynamic quarterback in the SEC.

Enter Johnny Manziel…

Redshirt freshman "Johnny Football” Manziel has become quite the star, and rightfully so. Manziel plays “backyard football” in an organized offense. The dual-threat quarterback is a throwback, but also an example of everything that is modern. Manziel is truly a mixed bag of talent, for an explosive offense.

As we enter the mid portion of November, Manziel is 203-of-305 in the passing department, for a grand total of 2,527 yards. Manziel has thrown six interceptions this season, but has countered with an impressive 16 touchdowns.

While Manziel is an efficient passer, and will only improve, the threat and scare he gives to the opposition is his ability to run the football on virtually any play.

With a total of 922 yards on 138 carries, Manziel leads Texas A&M in rushing. In addition to his aforementioned 16 passing touchdowns, Manziel has 15 rushing touchdowns, and averages 6.7 yards per rushing attempt.

Make no mistake, Texas A&M has an impressive offense as a whole, with an impressive and unique system, but whether the A&M offense is successful against Alabama, will all depend on Johnny Manziel.

Expect head coach Kevin Sumlin, and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to go “all out” against the Alabama defense, in what has all the makings of yet another “instant classic” in the SEC.

Texas A&M offensive team superlatives

-44 points per game (4th in the nation)
-251 rushing yards per game (10th in the nation)
-308 passing yards (19th in the nation)

Leading rushers (excluding the aforementioned Manziel)

-Ben Malena 96 carries 637 yards 6 TD
-Christine Michael 69 carries 321 yards 8 TD
-Trey Williams 49 carries 240 yards 3 TD

Leading receivers

-Mike Evans 56 receptions 802 yards 2 TD
-Ryan Swope 45 receptions 641 yards 5 TD
-Thomas Johnson 27 receptions 317 yards 1 TD
-Uzoma Nwachukwu 17 receptions 237 yards 4 TD

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Death Valley Drive: When all was lost…Alabama won

Alabama has officially been tested, and AJ McCarron is officially an Alabama football legend.

In a game that lived up to the hype, and then some, the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the LSU Tigers by the score of 21-17, in theatrical grand fashion.

In what will certainly go down as an “instant classic” in every sense of the phrase, Alabama and LSU provided fans of college football with an early Christmas present. Dramatic football from start to finish, coupled with just enough tears to tug at the heartstrings of those who understand the power of “team” and what it means to triumph as a collective unit.

In every game preview, the key to victory, for LSU, was essentially always the same. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger would need a “career-game” against one of the most vaunted defenses in all of college football. When the smoke had cleared, Mettenberger had exceeded every expectation, and more. Throwing for 298 yards and one touchdown, LSU fans got a taste of the quarterback they thought they had signed, and Alabama fans got a taste of a superb quarterback playing with supreme confidence.

While Mettenberger channeled his inner Stephen Garcia, something Tide fans know all too well, given the context, the Alabama second half offense looked like something else ‘Bama fans know all too well…Iron Bowl 2010.

While the Tide held at 14-3 lead at the half, courtesy of a late second quarter rushing touchdown by AJ McCarron, the second half was dominated by LSU. In large measure, visually and statistically, the Tigers looked like the No. 1 team in the nation, while the Tide looked to be the team attempting to spring the upset.

Thanks to wonderful play from Mettenberger, the LSU offensive line, and the Tiger defense, Alabama was essentially relegated to watching the time run down, and the season slip away.

Then it happened…

When favor and fate seemed to indicate it wasn’t meant to be for the Crimson Tide…it suddenly was. The Tide offense, who had struggled mightily in the second half, proceeded to drive the ball 72 yards in five plays, while doing so in just 43 seconds…with no timeouts.

AJ McCarron, who had garnered less than 100 passing yards prior to the final drive, was able to maintain ultimate composure and connected with wide receiver Kevin Norwood three times, which placed the football at the LSU 28-yard line, with 60 seconds to play.

As for the finish, a “simple” screen pass from AJ McCarron to freshman running back T.J. Yeldon can now, arguably, be considered the greatest single pass play in Alabama history. The lore of the play will become even more significant if Alabama is able to capture the BCS title.

Following the touchdown, which gave Alabama a 21-17 lead, the exhausted and often defeated Alabama defense, was able to make one final stand. Zach Mettenberger, who had played lights out, ended the night on his back looking up at the lights, as the Crimson Tide escaped with the victory. The Tide defense, which always seemed to be just a second late on essentially every blitz, were able to sack Mettenberger when it meant the most.

Alabama was tested, and Alabama passed…in dramatic fashion.

>>>Complete stats and scoring summary<<<

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tigers will sink or swim with Mettenberger

In order for LSU to have a legitimate chance to defeat the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, quarterback Zach Mettenberger must have a career-game, or in simplistic terms, perform like the quarterback LSU thought they signed.

Thus far in 2012, a suspect Mettenberger, coupled with an overhauled offensive line, have thwarted an offense that many fans and pundits expected to be one of the best units in the SEC, and possibly the nation.

Birmingham News columnist anticipates a rough night for Mettenberger
As we enter the month of November, one could easily make the argument that Mettenberger is not as proficient as Jordan Jefferson, or even the Jefferson/Jarrett Lee combination from yesteryear. Just the fact such an argument can be made with a straight face is an obvious example of Mettenberger’s overall performance, or lack thereof.

LSU is not the same team that defeated Alabama in November of 2011, but Alabama is as good, if not better. The differences aren’t overwhelming, but they are certainly visible.

Alabama is performing better on the defensive side of the football than LSU, and in respect to offensive efficiency, and the aforementioned struggles of Mettenberger, the Tide offense are several steps ahead of where the Tigers want to be, and probably should be, at this stage of the season.

Outside of the Mettenberger “career-game” scenario, LSU must also depend on something that is not very dependable…an Alabama comedy of errors. The Tigers must hope that “buckets of nerves” and a rowdy Tiger Stadium crowd can force the Tide to commit a series of blunders. Mistakes where no credit is earned, but rather gifts are taken.

An LSU victory is most certainly not out of the question, but in the game of football where anything can happen, more often than not…the better team wins. In this case, the “better team” just happens to be the best team in the nation.

Alabama 23
LSU 10

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trench war: Daunting task awaits LSU offensive line

While Saturday’s contest between Alabama and LSU can be dissected from top to bottom, the most critical analysis can be found in the trenches.

In order to be successful, the LSU offensive line must not only protect quarterback Zach Mettenberger, but also be imposing enough on a routine basis to allow the LSU rushing attack to flourish. While one could easily conclude that Alabama is responsible for a similar offensive task, the biggest disparity, could very well decide the final outcome of the game.

Alabama will enter the contest with arguably the best offensive line in the nation, and a group that has been injury-free thus far in 2012. On the flipside, where the distinction lies, LSU will enter the contest with a revamped offensive line thanks in large measure to various occurrences of depletion, whether it be graduation, team departure, or injury.

LSU beat writer Jim Kleinpeter has the story of the “overhauled” Tigers, and how the offensive line will face their biggest challenge to date, the 3-4 defense of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

LINK: Head-to-head: LSU offensive line vs. Alabama defensive line

TomTom Go Confidently

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

UA/LSU: Numerical soup with a dash of domination

In advance of a highly anticipated game, many people take the statistical viewpoint in order to “move the pile” and select which team will prevail.

Given the status of the Alabama/LSU contest, and what it will mean to the national title picture, Alabama beat writer Don Kausler Jr. has jumped on the stats wagon.

Kausler, using national team statistics, has comparison charts of LSU/Alabama today, LSU/Alabama prior to the 2011 regular season match-up, and LSU/Alabama prior to the national title clash. The obvious logic and "goal" is to illustrate which team had the statistical edge, and when.

While numerous stat charts are good for comparing the teams, a chart can’t breathe life into a plastic dummy. Both so-called experts and fans have expressed that with just days leading up to the 2012 regular season contest, the “hype” of yet another Alabama/LSU game, is simply not in the air. On the surface, one can’t help but agree.

By all measures, Alabama is a better football team, overall, than LSU. While not decisively better, the Tide have the edge. The Tigers had lofty expectations this season, and while the team is still very good, most pundits assumed LSU would be undefeated at this stage, and more impressive on the offensive side of the football. One could argue that Zach Mettenberger, to this point, is essentially Jordan Jefferson without the mobility. The supposed “savior” of the offense has been very erratic, and has certainly not lived up to the hype.

As a team, LSU struggled to defeat arguably the worst Auburn squad in 60 years, while also falling at Florida, then being taken to the wire by South Carolina, and late into the second half by Texas A&M. Although Florida is the only blemish on the schedule, the Tigers could just as easily have the burden of carrying a total of four losses into the month of November.

As Saturday’s showdown approaches, ‘Bama is favored by just over nine points. On the surface, the margin is a simple product of two things. One being Alabama’s domination thus far in 2012, and the other being LSU’s inconsistency and struggles. For the obvious examples in respect to the Tigers, enter the aforementioned Zach Mettenberger and the documented “close calls” over the last 40 days.

Right now, the only team in college football that can beat Alabama…is Alabama. The Crimson Tide take the field each and every Saturday to compete against themselves, by playing to a standard that is currently unmatched in college football. If the standard-bearers of 2012 invade Tiger Stadium on Saturday night, LSU will essentially have no other option than to admire Alabama’s triumph.

>>>2012 LSU Offensive Statistical Leaders<<<

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Top-ranked Tide dominate Mississippi State

How many ways can a beat writer compose the same story? For those who cover Alabama football, that is the question that has to be faced each and every week. The “victims” change, but the story remains the same. How many ways can "domination" be described?

Courtesy of yet another quality outing from quarterback AJ McCarron, and a stalwart and suffocating defense, Alabama improved to 8-0 on the season thanks to a 38-7 victory over the formerly undefeated, Mississippi State Bulldogs. It really is true, same story…different opponent.

  Lead SEC CFB Writer for Bleacher Report
While the nation continues to wait with bated breath for Alabama's first “test” of the season, the Crimson Tide continue to destroy the opposition on a weekly basis. ‘Bama has yet to face anything that has even resembled a “close” game, and given the aforementioned score from Saturday night, the pattern did not change.

In typical Alabama fashion, this contest was essentially over after the first quarter of play. Courtesy of a T.J. Yeldon 11-yard touchdown run on the initial drive of the game, and a Kenny Bell 57-yard touchdown reception in the latter stages of the quarter, Alabama led 14-0 before Mississippi State had a chance to breathe.

The game, while actually boring and monotonous at times, proved to be a compliment to the best team in the nation. In true Tide fashion, the contest was a grinder, which included limited offensive thrills and superb defense at the right moments…the essential elements that have made Alabama the “top-ranked Tide” for nine consecutive weeks.

Alabama beat writer shares his sentiments on the 2012 Tide
As for individual superlatives, the aforementioned AJ McCarron completed 16-of-23 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns against a solid MSU defense. In respect to the rushing attack, running back T.J. Yeldon's 11-yard touchdown highlighted an 84 yard effort against the Bulldogs.

For the second consecutive game Tide safety Robert Lester turned away the opposition with a critical interception in the endzone. Last week Lester stopped a potential Tennessee scoring drive, and last night, the ‘Bama senior did the same to MSU. In what was shaping up to be Alabama's worst defensive series of the season, Lester picked-off quarterback Tyler Russell to put an end to a 97-yard drive.

Mississippi State running back LaDarius Perkins, who entered the game as the SEC’s leading rusher, was held to a mere 38 yards on 15 carries. The Tide defense held the Bulldogs to 256 yards of total offense.

The “yet to be tested” Tide will now take the show to Baton Rouge to face the LSU Tigers in what promises, once again, to be “arguably” the biggest contest of the regular season in respect to national implications. With Mississippi State in the rear-view mirror, the eyes of the nation will now turn to the rematch of the BCS national title game.

>>>Complete stats and scoring summary<<<