Friday, August 31, 2012

Clark and Toussaint suspended for ‘Bama game

One of the major topics of conversation this week has been the playing status of Michigan defensive end Frank Clark, and most notably, the playing status of running back Fitz Toussaint.

Friday morning UM head coach Brady Hoke went public with his decision, revealing that Clark and Toussaint will not play against Alabama. In fact, neither player will make the trip to Arlington, Texas.

When the status of Clark and Toussaint was still very much a mystery, the consensus seemed to lend itself to a “game-time decision” come Saturday night. However, given the aforementioned information, that will obviously not be the case.

Prior to the announced suspensions, Alabama was a 14 point favorite over the Wolverines.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Toussaint’s playing status remains a mystery

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke has still not made a “public” decision in regards to the playing status of star running back Fitz Toussaint for Saturday’s contest against Alabama.

Toussaint, who was arrested earlier this summer on DUI charges, pled guilty earlier this week to a lesser offense…operating a vehicle while visibly impaired.

While Toussaint has garnered a large chunk of the headlines, Brady Hoke has also yet to make a “playing status” decision on defensive end Frank Clark.

In late June, Clark was suspended for the theft of a laptop from a dorm room on the Michigan campus.

With the season opener against Alabama only 48 hours away, the status of both Clark and Toussaint may not be decided until kickoff.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Status of Michigan running back still in question

Even though Fitz Toussaint was deemed the first-team running back on Michigan’s fall depth chart, coach Brady Hoke has yet to make a decision in respect to Toussaint’s status against Alabama.

Toussaint, the 1,000 yard rusher from 2011, was suspended indefinitely following a DUI arrest earlier this summer.

If Toussaint is forced to miss the contest against the Crimson Tide, expect Thomas Rawls to get the starting role.

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Alabama/Michigan: Wolverines hungry for upset

The Michigan Wolverines have every reason to be excited about the 2012 football season. In 2011, under new coach Brady Hoke, the Wolverines went 11-2 and defeated Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. The contest marked Michigan’s first BCS bowl appearance in five seasons.

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke

To say the Wolverines are carrying momentum into the 2012 campaign, is an understatement. Michigan is favored, by many, to capture the Big Ten Legends division and currently sit at No. 8 in the preseason national rankings.

Led by nationally acclaimed quarterback Denard Robinson, the “Maize and Blue” are aiming for the Rose Bowl…and possibly more.

Enter the Alabama Crimson Tide…

For all the praise that Michigan has garnered during the offseason, most “experts” feel the Wolverines have very little chance against the defending national champs.

While the primetime showcase in Arlington, Texas known as the “Cowboys Classic” will draw national attention, and provide a “litmus test” for both programs, ‘Bama is the considerable favorite.

Robinson…the Michigan treasure

Denard Robinson is as vital to the Michigan offense in 2012, as Cam Newton was to, and for, Auburn in 2010. The “earth” in respect to the UM offense, revolves around the play of the talented quarterback.

Last season Robinson led the Wolverines in rushing and garnered over 3,300 yards in respect to rushing and passing. The "Heisman hopeful" accounted for 36 touchdowns in 2011, with 20 of those scores coming via the air.

Although passing is not Robinson’s forte (15 interceptions last season) the simple knowledge of having to respect his “ground game” can allow the passing game to be successful. The “perfect pass” doesn’t have to be in order when a defensive coverage is “busted” due to the threat of Robinson’s tendency to run.

Tailback turmoil

In respect to the actual running back position, the “jury was out”…until this morning.

Fitz Toussaint, the 1,000 yard rusher from 2011, was suspended indefinitely following a DUI arrest earlier this summer, however, the UM depth chart, released just hours ago, has Toussaint listed as the starter for the contest against Alabama.

If Toussaint had been absent, Thomas Rawls would have been awarded the starting role for the season opener.

Denard Robinson and Fitz Toussaint

Pitch and catch

At the wide receiver position, the Wolverines must replace Junior Hemingway and Kevin Koger who combined for a total of 57 receptions last season.

Jeremy Gallon and Roy Roundtree are considered to be the staples at the receiver position for 2012, with Jerald Robinson and Drew Dileo as the “second-tier” stars. Although Roundtree had minor knee surgery in early August, he is expected to be ready for the contest against the Crimson Tide.

Offensive front

The Michigan offensive line for the 2012 season will be in the same boat as the wide receivers in many ways. Just as the receiving unit lost some key performers from 2011, so did the offensive line.

The Wolverines will have to replace center David Molk, a team leader, and tackle Mark Huyge. Michigan is still very strong up front with several returning starters, but the loss of David Molk would hurt any major program. How the Wolverines handle the Alabama defensive front, and nose guard Jesse Williams, should be quite interesting.

Hail to the defense

The 2011 edition of the Michigan defense was solid, and it showed. The Wolverines ranked sixth in scoring defense and 16th in redzone defense and it reflected in the overall complexion of the season. In respect to 2012, Michigan returns seven starters on the defensive side of the ball as they look to continue the trend of improvement.

Defensive end Craig Roh and tackle Will Campbell are the “stars” of the Michigan defensive front, and the linebackers, led by Jake Ryan, have the chance to be one of the best units in the nation. The Michigan secondary, with the likes of Blake Countess and J.T. Floyd also form a very strong unit.

In regards to the contest with Alabama, the Michigan defense will receive a punishing workout. With AJ McCarron’s passing ability, coupled with an Alabama backfield of at least three explosive players, the Wolverines will get all they want…and more.

Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon

The final verdict

The Michigan Wolverines are a quality football team, and barring something unforeseen, UM should finish the season in the top 15. However, being one of the elite teams in the Big Ten and a top 15 program, doesn’t mean the Wolverines will have the firepower to defeat Alabama.

‘Bama is anywhere from an 11 to 13 point favorite against UM, and rightfully so. Brady Hoke is a talented coach, and Michigan is a talented team, but Alabama resides on a different level.

The Alabama defense is not only tough, but fast. Arguably the most difficult task Denard Robinson will face in the season opener will be reading the speed of the Crimson Tide defense.

In a nutshell, Alabama is the better team. For a point of reference, think Alabama/Virginia Tech from 2009…this contest should be much the same.

Alabama 31
Michigan 17

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Friday, August 24, 2012

DeMarcus Walker gives verbal to ‘Bama

Sandalwood High School (Jacksonville, FL) defensive end DeMarcus Walker has given his verbal commitment to the University of Alabama for 2013.

Walker, who stands 6-foot-4 and tops the scale at 280-pounds, selected the Crimson Tide over the likes of Auburn, Clemson, Florida, and Tennessee.

Regarded as a four-star prospect per, Walker becomes the 19th Alabama verbal commitment in respect to the 2013 signing class.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

‘Bama fights the “injury bug” as season nears

With the official start of the 2012 season just over one week away, Alabama continues to cement starting roles, develop depth, and fight the “injury bug.”

Running back Eddie Lacy, who missed spring practice due to toe surgery, suffered a minor knee and ankle sprain during the final preseason scrimmage. In respect to this week, Lacy has competed at a relatively high level as the week has progressed, per visual accounts. Although Lacy will probably not be 100 percent for the contest against Michigan, no significant ill-effects are expected.

Eddie Lacy rushes for a touchdown against North Texas

As for freshman Amari Cooper, his outlook, in respect to the opening contest, is not so clear. The highly touted wide receiver sustained a foot injury last week, and was kept out of the final scrimmage, as well as practice this week. Nick Saban has described the situation with Cooper as “conservative” …in respect to his practice absence. Cooper, per Saban, is expected to return to action Monday afternoon.

Redshirt freshman defensive back Bradley Sylve suffered a fractured hand during the Wednesday practice session. Nick Saban suggested that Sylve, a backup, could play against Michigan with the support of a cast.

All things considered, and barring a significant longstanding issue, Alabama is in reasonably good shape for the first game of the 2012 campaign.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Crimson Tide a 12.5 favorite over Michigan

While the “Cowboys Classic” is over one week away, the folks in Vegas are still rolling with the Crimson Tide. As of this morning, Alabama was a 12.5 favorite over the Michigan Wolverines.

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In a game that has garnered, and will continue to garner, national attention, the season opener in Arlington, Texas will prove to be an important “litmus test” for both ‘Bama and Michigan.

While most experts, and obviously the betting community, have the Crimson Tide as heavy favorites, the No. 8 ranked Wolverines would love nothing more than to “spoil the party” in front of a primetime audience.

Coming Sunday: Alabama/Michigan Game Preview

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Injuries and rain plague Tide’s final scrimmage

Saturday afternoon provided less than ideal weather conditions for Alabama’s second and final scrimmage of the preseason.

While Nick Saban said the turf at Bryant-Denny Stadium survived the first inclement weather test of the season, the actual scrimmage left Saban feeling “tested” and wanting better performance from various players.

In respect to the backup quarterback position, Saban expressed his displeasure to the media by saying that group, “obviously have a ways to go.”

With the aforementioned comment concerning the depth at the quarterback position, Saban expressed his concern over what is arguably his biggest challenge…player development. It comes as no secret that Alabama has to replace a plethora of talented players on both sides of the ball. Developing leaders, and depth, is obviously a concern for any coach when dealing with “transitional” units.

On the positive side of life, Saban was pleased with the performance of the offensive line, as well as starting quarterback AJ McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon, and wide receiver Kevin Norwood.

In respect to injuries, freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper is listed as day-to-day with a minor foot ailment. Saban said Cooper suffered the injury earlier in the week.

Running back Eddie Lacy, who missed spring practice due to toe surgery, sustained a sprained ankle during today’s scrimmage. One can only speculate that wet field conditions may have played a role in the injury. Lacy, like Cooper, is listed as day-to-day.

Scrimmage stats (those made public)


AJ McCarron 12/23 242 yards 2 TDs


T.J. Yeldon 16 carries 60 yards 2 TDs
Kenyan Drake 10 carries 37 yards
Jalston Fowler 6 carries 25 yards


Kevin Norwood 3 receptions 76 yards 2 TDs
Marvin Shinn 2 receptions 85 yards 1 TD
DeAndrew White 2 receptions 63 yards


C.J. Mosley 6 tackles - 1 sack - 1 interception (returned for TD)
Nico Johnson 5 tackles
Vinnie Sunseri 5 tackles
Damion Square 4 tackles - 1 sack
Xzavier Dickson 4 tackles - 1 sack

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Alabama prepares for final preseason scrimmage

All things considered, the Alabama Crimson Tide have had a solid preseason.

High intensity has been the hallmark during the month of August, and the first scrimmage of the preseason, which was held last Saturday, received positive reviews from head coach Nick Saban.

Tomorrow afternoon, ‘Bama will scrimmage for the second and final time, before placing the lid on “preseason camp” and beginning the “game preparation” associated with traditional fall practice.

With the Michigan Wolverines only two weeks from Saturday, the Tide will look to not only rectify mistakes within the veterans and “anticipated” starters, but continue to develop depth at every position.


Will Jalston Fowler be 100 percent devoted to the running back position as the season begins, or will the preseason “experiment” at the h-back position become a fixture in the offense?

In the 3-4 base defense, who will be the “core” linebackers and secondary staples?

Will freshman kicker Adam Griffith garner valuable playing time in critical situations, virtually “replacing” Cade Foster as the backup to Jeremy Shelley?

The questions pondered above are just a few that Alabama fans, and obviously Tide coaches, will be looking to answer in the days to come. Depending on the personnel results of the final scrimmage, some of those questions could be answered within 24 hours.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Alabama Analysis: Special teams consistency

While most every collective unit on the Alabama football team is exceptional, the weak area, on paper, is found in the special teams department.

With the loss of Marquis Maze, Alabama will now attempt to find a quality return man for both kickoff and punt return duties.

On the kicking and punting front, ‘Bama will have returning starters…but inconsistent returning starters. Mediocre punting in 2011, coupled with the well documented struggles of Cade Foster, and at times, Jeremy Shelley, have left the Tide with familiar faces…yet uncertain results.

The prominent players

LS Carson Tinker
H AJ McCarron
K Jeremy Shelley
K Cade Foster
P Cody Mandell

Emerging talent

K Adam Griffith

Potential kick/punt returners

DB Deion Belue
DB Dee Milliner
RB Dee Hart
WR Christion Jones
WR Amari Cooper

Jeremy Shelley connects on a 41-yard field goal in the BCS title game

In terms of “the kicking battle” for playing time, look no further than Cade Foster, and freshman Adam Griffith. Barring injury, Jeremy Shelley will be the “go to” kicker for ‘Bama in 2012, but Foster and Griffith will be vying for the coveted backup or “partially shared duty” role.

Alabama is so strong, especially on the defensive side, that a lackluster special teams effort can almost be “excused” by most fans. However, those same fans have seen what sloppy kickoff coverage and “ill-timed” missed field goals can do to the complexion of a game.

In 2011, the Auburn Tigers never scored an offensive touchdown against the Tide, but they did return the second half kickoff for a score, and anyone who follows college football to any degree, remembers the costly missed field goals against LSU during the regular season meeting.

Special teams don’t really matter…until they do. Alabama is without question one of the top teams in the nation entering the 2012 season, but if one area needs consistency, it would be the special teams department.

Unit Rating: 6/10

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saban pleased with first preseason scrimmage

In a week that has been marred with eligibility issues, season-ending injuries, and a player departure, the Alabama Crimson Tide hit the field Saturday afternoon for the first scrimmage of the preseason.

While the team continues to establish proven depth at each position, Nick Saban, by all accounts, was pleased with the Saturday session.

Scrimmage stats (those made public)


Eddie Lacy: 8 carries 57 yards
Jalston Fowler: 7 carries 34 yards 1 TD
Kenyan Drake: 10 carries 33 yards 1 TD
T.J. Yeldon: 13 carries 24 yards 2 TD


AJ McCarron: 19/29 222 yards 1 TD


Kevin Norwood: 2 receptions 61 yards
Amari Cooper: 3 receptions 52 yards 1 TD
Jalston Fowler: 3 receptions 40 yards
Michael Williams: 3 receptions 31 yards
Kenny Bell: 2 receptions 31 yards
Eddie Lacy: 5 receptions 25 yards


Trey DePriest: 5 tackles 1 INT
Xzavier Dickson: 5 tackles
Robert Lester: 4 tackles
Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix: 4 tackles
Nick Perry: 4 tackles 2 pass breakups
Vinnie Sunseri: 3 tackles 1 blocked field goal (returned for TD)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Crimson Notes 8/10/12

With the start of the 2012 season just three weeks away, the first full week of preseason camp has been quite interesting, and not always in a positive fashion.

Three notable stories from camp involve an academic casualty, a season ending injury, and a program departure.

-Freshman offensive lineman Brandon Hill will miss the 2012 campaign due to NCAA eligibility issues. Hill will attend Hargrave Military Academy this fall with the anticipation of enrolling at Alabama in January with qualification requirements achieved.

-Freshman wide receiver Chris Black is expected to miss the 2012 season due to a shoulder injury which will require surgery. Black suffered the injury during Alabama’s “Fan Day” practice which was open to the general public. Black, a highly touted recruit, was expected to garner ample playing time this season.

-Junior college transfer Travell Dixon has left the program due to what has been cited as family and personal reasons. Dixon, who was regarded as one of the top defensive backs in the JUCO ranks last season, was expected to play a role in Alabama's secondary rotation this year.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Alabama Analysis: Talented Tide secondary

While replacing the likes of Dre Kirkpatrick and Mark Barron will be virtually impossible, the 2012 edition of the Alabama secondary should be exceptional.

Led by safety Robert Lester, the Crimson Tide will have a nice mixture of experience and young superior talent, as they roam the terrain of the mighty SEC.

Look for the aforementioned Lester, Vinnie Sunseri, Dee Milliner, and junior college transfer Deion Belue, who originally signed with ‘Bama in 2010, to be the “glue” for the Tide in the 3-4 base defense.

The prominent players

S-Robert Lester
S-Vinnie Sunseri
CB-Dee Milliner
CB-Deion Belue
CB-John Fulton
CB-Travell Dixon

Emerging talent

Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix
Jarrick Williams
Landon Collins
Geno Smith
Nick Perry
Bradley Sylve
Jabriel Washington

Robert Lester

In respect to key roles in the rotation, look for John Fulton and Travell Dixon to see action at the cornerback position this fall. Although Fulton has never seen substantial minutes, the former four-star prospect has been with the Tide since 2010 and knows the system. As for Dixon, look for the top defensive back in the junior college ranks to contribute this season and incorporate his experience and on-field mental maturity.

Both Fulton and Dixon will be doing battle with Deion Belue for the cornerback position opposite Dee Milliner. While Belue appears to have the edge, expect Fulton or Dixon to see the field in the nickel defense.

In respect to the safety rotation, look for Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix to play the role of backup to Vinnie Sunseri. Clinton-Dix is a true safety, but also has the skills to play corner if necessary. The talented sophomore played in several games last season as a true freshman.

While so much talk has surrounded freshman Landon Collins, his position in the rotation is unknown. Collins has the body of a senior safety, but experience is still the name of the game at such a critical position. Given Collins’ five-star rating, and the “drama” of his recruitment, many Tide fans are anxious to see him in action.

From top to bottom, the 2012 secondary will be a solid group. Certainly deeper and more experienced than the 2010 collection that followed the 2009 championship team.

With three experienced players (Lester, Milliner, and Sunseri) being groomed under the Tide system, and two highly touted JUCO transfers (Belue and Dixon)…Alabama is in good hands.

Unit Rating: 9/10

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Alabama Analysis: Hungry and young at LB

Since Nick Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, no position has become more significant on the defensive side of the ball than linebacker.

Names like Hightower, McClain, and Upshaw have defined the position under Saban, and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

The 2012 edition of ‘Bama linebackers have the ideal mixture of size and speed, to go with an abundance of talent. Only Alabama, under Saban and Smart, could lose the likes of Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw, yet become a more complete and talent-laden unit the following season.

C.J. Mosley and Nico Johnson will lead a hungry group of competitors who are looking to make an impact in 2012.

The prominent players

C.J. Mosley
Nico Johnson
Trey DePriest
Adrian Hubbard

Emerging talent

Xzavier Dickson
Tana Patrick
Reggie Ragland
Ryan Anderson
Dillon Lee
Denzel Devall
Jonathan Atchison

C.J. Mosley and Nico Johnson

Alabama runs a 3-4 base defense with three down linemen and four linebackers. Due to rotations at the linebacker position during a single game, the second-team performers have to be “first-team ready” at any moment. Four linebackers start, but as many as seven have the potential to see action during a given contest.

In respect to who will play a vital role in the rotation this season, that question has yet to be answered. With a position as critical as linebacker, so much will depend on “practice progress” as well as which freshmen, if any, will be redshirted. On the surface, the easy choice in respect to ample playing time would be Xzavier Dickson. The Georgia product saw action in several games during his true freshman season of 2011.

As with a few positions on the Crimson Tide team, depth is a slight concern, but talent is abloom! Mosley and Johnson will be counted on to provide leadership within a hungry and talented group of young linebackers.

Unit Rating: 9/10

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Alabama Analysis: Williams leads defensive line

While attempting to build the “perfect” college football team, one of the main objectives would be to create a defensive line just as powerful and dominate as the offensive line.

Although true “perfection” is something only found in the latest football video game, the Alabama defensive line stacks up relatively well in comparison to what is considered to be one of the best offensive fronts in college football.

Led by nose guard Jesse Williams, who bench pressed 600 pounds last month, the Crimson Tide “trench dwellers” appear meaner and more punishing than ever.

The prominent players

NG-Jesse Williams
DE-Damion Square
DE-Ed Stinson/Quinton Dial

Emerging talent

NG-Brandon Ivory
NG-Dalvin Tomlinson
NG-Korren Kirven
NG-Darren Lake
NG-Dakota Ball
DE-Jeoffrey Pagan
DE-D.J. Pettway
DE-LaMichael Fanning
DE-Wilson Love

Jesse Williams

While the aforementioned Williams is the anchor of the defensive line, and the starter at the nose guard position, several players have the opportunity to contribute across the front and make a definite impact in 2012.

In respect to Williams’ backup, that spot is expected to go to Brandon Ivory. While the Crimson Tide have talent at the nose guard position, Ivory is the only player with game experience, given the rest of the crop are mere newcomers.

Damion Square and Ed Stinson are considered to be the staples at the defensive end positions, as well as Quinton Dial, who is expected to play a vital part in the rotation.

When it comes to additional playing time at defensive end, look for Jeoffrey Pagan, D.J. Pettway, and LaMichael Fanning to garner respectable minutes over the course of the season. Alabama depends on a solid
second-team due to heavy rotations; so many players will need to be prepared for game action at any moment.

While experienced depth is a slight concern, talented personnel is not. The Alabama defensive front should be as stout as the 2011 edition, and all things considered…that is not a bad place to reside.

Unit Rating: 9/10

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Monday, August 6, 2012

The Alabama Analysis: Future stars at wide receiver

While experienced leaders such as Darius Hanks, Marquis Maze, and Brad Smelley have departed the program, the 2012 edition of Alabama wide receivers and tight ends have the opportunity to be a very special and productive group.

The Crimson Tide will return a total of five relatively experienced players, and welcome a host of newcomers who are anxious to make an impact this season.

The prominent players

WR-Kenny Bell
WR-Kevin Norwood
WR-DeAndrew White
WR-Christion Jones
TE-Michael Williams

Emerging talent

WR-Amari Cooper
WR-Chris Black
WR-Eddie Williams
WR-Marvin Shinn
*WR-Cyrus Jones
WR-Danny Woodson Jr.
TE-Brian Vogler
TE-Harrison Jones
TE-Kurt Freitag

*Given the “athlete” tag. Can play multiple positions…

Kenny Bell

While names like Bell and Norwood are expected to see the bulk of the action, look for Christion Jones, DeAndrew White, as well as true freshman Amari Cooper to play significant roles at the wide receiver position. Nick Saban has gone on record to “sing the praises” of Cooper, and barring something unforeseen, the talented newcomer will make waves in 2012.

At the tight end position, Michael Williams is the man. Williams will be the starter and will play a vital role in the offense. The main question is who will replace Brad Smelley at the h-back position. Early indications point to Brian Vogler as the player who will fill that void, but Harrison Jones is also a viable option. As preseason camp continues, the answer to that question will become more definitive.

While the Crimson Tide do not have the luxury of a “nationally acclaimed” receiver, they do have several experienced players, and plenty of talent. Alabama has diversity with no specific “go to” target. That combination has the potential to prove lethal for opposing defenses in the SEC.

Unit Rating: 8/10

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Single unit forms in day two of preseason camp

Alabama took to the practice field Saturday afternoon for the second day of preseason camp as preparation for the 2012 season continues.

The Tide came together as a full unit for the first time, as the initial day of camp saw a team divided, as veterans and freshmen (as well as selected players) participated in two separate practice sessions.

In respect to Saturday’s collective session, Alabama is still as healthy as they were when camp began. Excluding the quarterbacks, the black “non-contact” jerseys are still being kept in storage. In an ideal world, that is where they will stay for the duration of camp.

Personnel notes

-Offensive tackle Brandon Hill has been absent both days of camp due to an NCAA eligibility issue.

-Blake Sims, who is expected to split time between quarterback and running back, has worked with the quarterbacks during both practice sessions.

-Cyrus Jones, who was recruited with the “athlete” label, has been working at the wide receiver position during the initial days of practice.

Fan Day 2012

Alabama “Fan Day” will be held Sunday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The team will hold a public practice session at 2:30, followed by an autograph session which is slated to begin at 4:30.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Preseason camp begins for ‘Bama

The Alabama Crimson Tide took to the practice field this morning to begin the journey that will take them to the season opener against Michigan. While spring practice is the official “start” of every new season, preseason camp in August, is considered the ultimate “grind time” when it comes to season preparation.

On the injury front, Alabama has a clean bill of health. Not a single black “non-contact” jersey was found in the “veteran-laden” morning session. The “no injury” news certainly speaks well for several players, but most notably running back Eddie Lacy, who is recovering from toe surgery. Lacy’s injury, which has been well documented over the course of the last several months, caused him to be limited during the latter part of 2011, and his surgical procedure kept him out of spring practice.

In respect to positional “musical chairs,” Nick Saban said that no “position experiments” are taking place at this time, but that is certainly subject to change. Saban addressed this issue, as well as several others, during his post-practice press conference.

Tonight, the ‘Bama freshmen and “selected” players will officially report to the practice field to begin preseason camp.

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The Alabama Analysis: Tide searches for backup QB

When it comes to the Alabama quarterback position, the job is in good hands. The preseason “quarterback battle” of 2011 seems like a distant memory, and AJ McCarron now seems like he’s been the Crimson Tide quarterback for years.

McCarron officially took the starting role the second game of 2011 at Penn State, and the rest has been history. Thanks to steady and confident play during the regular season, and a “showcase” performance in the BCS title game, McCarron went from unproven commodity, to proven leader.

AJ McCarron

While the sky is certainly the limit for McCarron in 2012, the real “issue” at the quarterback position are the young men waiting in the wings. McCarron is the starting quarterback, this much is a fact, but what is simply speculation is who would succeed McCarron if a “crisis” situation came to fruition.

The prominent player

AJ McCarron

Emerging talent

Phillip Ely
Alec Morris

When it comes to experience behind McCarron, redshirt freshman Phillip Ely has one year of practice, and one spring game, while true freshman Alec Morris has…high school.

While the starter, McCarron, is expected to be one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC, the backup plan is shaky at best. Former backup quarterback Phillip Sims, who had game experience, is now at the University of Virginia. The departure of Sims has left the aforementioned freshmen to battle for the runner-up spot.

In respect to a possible “prognosis” - any guess is as good as the rest.

If Phillip Ely enters the game to complete “mop-up” duty during a blowout victory, does that mean he has been touted as the backup quarterback? Who knows? Does one really have to be the true backup…to hand off? The same scenario could equally apply to Alec Morris.

When all is said and done, it probably doesn’t “really” matter who the backup is for 2012, because if McCarron is forced to leave the field, a “baptism by fire” will await the young man who enters the game.

Ely? Morris? In an ideal world…Alabama never has to find out.

Unit Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Alabama Analysis: Running backs abloom

One of the many things Alabama fans have grown to rely on when it comes to Nick Saban, is that 'Bama will have a plethora of talented running backs each and every season.

Although the 2011 campaign saw minimal depth due to transfers and injuries, the Tide still had two solid backs, and Heisman finalist Trent Richardson, to carry the load.

In 2012, the Crimson Tide will have as many as five talented players in the rotation. While Richardson left virtually impossible shoes to fill, Alabama is deeper at the running back position this season than they were in 2011, and certainly more talented as a complete unit.

The prominent players

Eddie Lacy
T.J. Yeldon
Jalston Fowler
Dee Hart

Emerging talent

Blake Sims
Kenyan Drake

Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon

While T.J. Yeldon is only a true freshman, the five-star talent was the MVP of the annual spring game and is expected to make an immediate impact in 2012. On the surface it appears that Yeldon will at least split time with Eddie Lacy, and it is not out of the question that Yeldon could eventually, this season, carry the bulk of the load.

As it was well documented toward the latter part of 2011, Lacy battled a turf toe injury, one that eventually required surgery during the offseason which forced him to miss spring practice. Only time will tell if Lacy is 100 percent, or if he’s still battling the ailment that caused him difficulty last season. Yeldon will play a major role regardless, but if Lacy is still operating on a gimpy wheel, the addition of the talented freshman will serve ‘Bama in more ways than one.

While T.J. Yeldon is certainly someone the fans are anxious to see, the Crimson Tide debut of Dee Hart should be special as well. Hart, who was a five-star talent in his own right, was forced to miss the 2011 season due to a torn ACL. Hart should provide Alabama with a different element at the running back position which will complement Lacy, Yeldon, and the “bull” that is Jalston Fowler.

While Alabama has all the tools at the running back position, the talented cast will be afforded the opportunity to run behind what is arguably the best offensive line in college football. The Crimson Tide have been known for having a tremendous “ground game” since Nick Saban arrived, but the 2012 version has a chance to be very, very special. Multiple backs, of varying styles, running behind the best big men in the conference, is a recipe for success.

As with any position, health is a concern. Will Eddie Lacy be 100 percent? Will Dee Hart be the five-star prospect the Tide signed in 2011, or did his knee injury tarnish his value? While those questions will be answered in time, the surface appears to sparkle like a gold coin.

The stage is set, and if the actors perform at a high level…AJ McCarron may never have to pass again.

Only joking…

Unit Rating: 9.5/10

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Alabama Analysis: OL the stalwart for ‘Bama

“It all starts up front…”

Although the adage plastered above is as old as the game itself, for the 2012 edition of the Alabama Crimson Tide, the adage has never been more true.

Considered by many “experts” to have arguably the best offensive line in the nation, the Tide will depend on size, strength, speed, and experience to guide them through the trenches of the college football terrain.

The prominent players

Center-Barrett Jones
Left Guard-Chance Warmack
Right Guard-Anthony Steen
Left Tackle-Cyrus Kouandjio
Right Tackle-D.J. Fluker

Emerging talent

Ryan Kelly
Arie Kouandjio
Austin Shepherd
Alphonse Taylor
Kellen Williams

Barrett Jones will lead the Tide offensive line in 2012

It goes without saying that Alabama’s offensive line is the most “solid” unit on the 2012 team. Although depth is a concern, talent is not.

The projected starting offensive line is comprised of some of the best players in the nation, and barring injury, the front five will be a force to be reckoned with this season.

With talent at the running back position, and a proven quarterback, the Crimson Tide offensive line has the potential to be the biggest “difference maker(s)” on the entire team.

When supreme talent blocks for supreme talent, points will be scored…

Unit Rating: 10/10

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