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<<<

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mississippi State/Alabama: Battle of the unblemished

When the 2012 SEC football schedule was released, many pundits and fans circled the games they thought would carry significance in respect to the “big picture.” Games were circled that could define the college football season, and potentially determine not only the SEC championship
winner…but also the national championship winner.

As we arrive in late October, an easy assumption can now be made. One of those “circled games”…was probably not Mississippi State at Alabama. Yet, at any rate, the top-ranked Crimson Tide will tangle with the Bulldogs in Tuscaloosa, in a season-defining game for both teams. ‘Bama and MSU are unblemished thus far in 2012; with the Bulldogs currently sitting at No. 11 in the BCS standings, No. 13 in the AP poll.

MSU head coach Dan Mullen

So what does it all mean?

Is this a game of two championship caliber fighters attempting to “duke it out” for the grand prize, or is this simply one championship contender in the ring with just another Johnny-come-lately? Is Mississippi State really tough enough, and good enough, to “poke the bear” and get away with it?

Let this “unexpected drama” commence…

Steady quarterback play has saved the day

The “knock” on MSU, for years, has been the lack of production from the quarterback position. The Bulldogs have featured a very meager passing attack, and an offense that literally lived and died with the running game. To say the MSU offense was as stagnant as murky water...would be an insult to murky water.

Enter Tyler Russell as the starter…

Life! Russell has given life to the quarterback position, and the results have been tremendous. Thus far in 2012, Russell is 122-of-203 for 1,573 yards, including 15 touchdowns to only one interception. Under Russell, the MSU offense has essentially been transformed due to his performance, and his general ability to run the offense. Never underestimate the importance of a steady quarterback. Right now, the Bulldogs are basking in the benefits.

MSU beat writer hyping the showdown in T-Town

Perkins leads MSU ground attack

LaDarius Perkins is the “heartbeat” of the State rushing attack, and is one of the reasons why Tyler Russell has been able to run such a balanced offense from the quarterback position. When the “mixed-bag” is working, more players are allowed to shine, which keeps opposing defenses looking for an answer.

Thus far in 2012, Perkins has rushed for 724 yards and eight touchdowns. Perkins is a physically “built” running back, with an excellent combination of both size and speed. The Alabama defense will have to face MSU’s version of “Eddie Lacy” come Saturday night.

In good hands with Bumphis

Chad Bumphis, who once had aspirations of attending the University of Alabama, has firmly planted himself into the “star” role on the now, highly-potent, Bulldog offense.

Bumphis is the “receiver of choice” for quarterback Tyler Russell, and his 2012 statistics showcase his worth to the State offense. With 29 pass receptions for 479 yards and six touchdowns, the Alabama secondary will need to know where Bumphis is, at all times, in order to avoid potentially game-changing plays.

As for other threats in the passing game…

Chris Smith 26 receptions 293 yards 2 TDs
Arceto Clark 15 receptions 216 yards
Marcus Green 14 receptions 166 yards 5 TDs
Brandon Heavens 6 receptions 114 yards

The final verdict

Mississippi State is a very good football team, and they are without question the best overall team Alabama has faced thus far in the 2012 season, however, the beautiful bubble is about to burst.

The Crimson Tide will enter Saturday’s contest with MSU as a 20-plus point favorite. The simplicity of a single betting line is a microcosm that
proves…the nation is not falling for the Bulldogs. Why? The reasons are many, but one of which is MSU’s strength of schedule, a schedule that shows that even the Mississippi State of old, would essentially have no choice but to be undefeated at this stage.

For the pundits who want to “talk down” Alabama due to the Tide’s lack of superior opponents, the street goes both ways. In fact, MSU has been driving in a much larger lane.

-Jackson State
-South Alabama
-Middle Tennessee

The Bulldogs have talent on both sides of the ball, and an excellent head coach in Dan Mullen, but Alabama, for yet another season, is simply in another league. Being “good” and “talented” is no longer enough to beat Alabama.

 Quick observation from Tide legend Joe Namath

To use a NASCAR reference, there is a huge difference between catching the leader, and actually making the pass. The Bulldogs have the speed, but at the end of the night…the Crimson Tide will be in victory lane.

Alabama 30
Mississippi State 13

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cooper and McCarron shine as ‘Bama rout Vols

Thanks to career-best performances from quarterback AJ McCarron and wide receiver Amari Cooper, the top-ranked Crimson Tide were able to light their sixth victory cigar in as many years, courtesy of a 44-13 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers.

Nick Saban, while at 'Bama, has yet to lose to the Vols

While the Alabama defense kept UT quarterback Tyler Bray in check, the ‘Bama offense showcased their balance in grand fashion.

To expound on the aforementioned success of McCarron and Cooper, the Tide quarterback completed 17-of-22 passes against the Vols for a career-high 306 yards, and a career-tying four touchdowns. As for Cooper, the ‘Bama standout garnered 162 yards on the night, the most receiving yards ever by an Alabama freshman. Cooper caught a total of seven passes, two of which were touchdowns.

On the ground, the Alabama offense was once again able to wear down the opposition, thanks to a bountiful mix of talent across the offensive line, and at running back. Freshman T.J. Yeldon led the way for the Tide with 129 yards and two touchdowns, on 15 carries. Eddie Lacy, while kept out of the endzone, churned for an impressive 79 yards on 17 carries.

In all total, the Alabama offense gained 539 yards against a suspect Tennessee defense, while only allowing 282 yards to the highly-potent UT offense, led by Tyler Bray. Alabama held Bray to a mere 184 yards through the air, as the junior completed only 13-of-27 passes. The Tennessee signal-caller was also victimized by the ‘Bama defense in the form of two interceptions. Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley intercepted a Bray pass in the first half of play, and safety Robert Lester halted a potential UT scoring drive by intercepting a pass in the endzone.

Derek Dooley remains winless against Alabama as a head coach

In addition to limiting the effectiveness of Bray, the Alabama defense also held talented wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson to a single catch of 25 yards, while restricting Justin Hunter to only four receptions, most of which were late in the game when the contest was very much out of reach.

With the impressive victory over Tennessee, the Crimson Tide improve to 7-0 overall, and 4-0 in the SEC. Alabama will now return home to face an unblemished Mississippi State team in what should be a hallmark contest for both programs, in respect to the 2012 season.

>>>Complete stats and scoring summary<<<

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Alabama/Tennessee: “Rocky Top”…rocky road

As the Alabama Crimson Tide begin the most arduous portion of the 2012 season, the Tennessee Volunteers will not only look to beat arguably their biggest rival, but in the process, derail the Crimson Tide’s national title aspirations.

The Alabama/Tennessee rivalry has always been one of swings and streaks. The Crimson Tide have won five in a row over the Vols, and given the current status of both programs, that streak is expected to increase to six. However, much stranger things have happened.

Nick Saban and the Tide have aspirations of another BCS title

Alabama enters the contest as a three-touchdown favorite, and rightfully so, for a variety of reasons. Most of which simply have to do with UA’s current stature, but a good percentage has to do with UT’s dismal performance this season, especially on the defensive side of the football.

While the Vols enter the game with an overall record of 3-3, and 0-3 in the SEC, Tennessee does have a plethora of talent…especially at quarterback and wide receiver.

Bray leads UT passing attack

Tyler Bray is the “commander” of the UT offense at the quarterback position, and has had a very productive season thus far. The talented junior is 131-of-217 for 1,730 yards on the season, including 16 touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

Tyler Bray

For the first time in 2012, the Alabama defense will face a potent passer who is not afraid to throw the football down the field on a routine basis. What makes Bray even more proficient is a group of very talented receivers, two of which are arguably the most prolific in the SEC.

Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson have been the backbone for the Tennessee offense in terms of moving the football and keeping opposing defenses busy. Thus far in 2012, Hunter has caught 35 passes for 497 yards and four touchdowns, while Patterson has been on the receiving end of 23 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns. The trio of Bray, Hunter, and Patterson certainly have the potential to keep the Alabama secondary occupied.

Cordarrelle Patterson catches a TD pass against NC State

In addition to Hunter and Patterson, Zach Rogers and Mychal Rivera have also been more than serviceable. Rogers has 17 receptions for 284 yards and two touchdowns, while Rivera has a total of 15 receptions for 262 yards and two touchdowns. Hunter, Patterson, Rogers, and Rivera account for 1,358 of Tennessee’s 1,794 receiving yards as a team. Given the overall talent, and statistical production, the Vols passing game has been exceptional this season.

Ground woes

In respect to the running game…Dooley we have a problem.

Rajion Neal, who has 500 yards on the season, including five touchdowns, is doubtful for the contest against Alabama due to an ankle injury. Neal suffered the injury in Tennessee’s most recent game at Mississippi State. Left to carry the load in the absence of Neal will be Marlin Lane and Devrin Young. Both Lane and Young have combined for only 301 yards in 2012, and no touchdowns.

Given the situation, expect UT to utilize wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in an effort to provide some semblance of a ground attack. Patterson has carried the ball 11 times this season, for 214 yards and two touchdowns. Most of Patterson’s “ground work” has come in the form of the toss-sweep, or some sort of reverse trickery. Patterson is a playmaker in every sense of the word. The Vols would be well-served to make the most of his talent at every possible opportunity.

Defense in search of "volunteers"

As can be assessed from the information above, Tennessee is not 3-3 because of a dreadful offense. The Vols are dismal, thanks to an atrocious defense.

Former Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri is in his first season as the defensive coordinator for UT, and his struggles have been immense. On average, the Vols allow 31 points per game, and in their three losses, UT has allowed 43 points per contest. Also in their three losses, the Vols have allowed a grand total of 1,565 yards, which comes to an average of 521 yards per game. The current UT defense is on a statistical pace to potentially become the worst defense in program history.

In respect to Saturday’s outing, the Vols will possibly be without linebacker Curt Maggitt due to a shoulder injury. Maggitt, who has 16 tackles thus far in 2012, has started five games this season. If Maggitt does play, expect him to be extremely limited.

The final verdict

While both Tyler Bray and AJ McCarron will enter the game with minor knee issues, the biggest issue for Tennessee will be stopping the Alabama offense.

The Vols have a productive passing game that could potentially give Alabama trouble…this is a fact. However, what is also factual is that UT has shown no indication, through six games, that they will be able to handle Alabama’s “mixed-bag” on offense. Thus far in 2012, from a statistical standpoint, the Vols have not been able to “handle” any form of offense.

Alabama running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon

Essentially, the only chance Tennessee has to win will rest on the throwing arm of Tyler Bray. The UT quarterback will have to play the game of his life, and hope the Tennessee defense can somehow force the Tide offense to squander several opportunities, or quite literally…squander the football.

Given that Alabama/Tennessee is a traditional and “classic” rivalry, the fear of the unexpected is always a possibility. However, most would agree that Tennessee will need General Neyland’s magic in order to have any realistic chance against the Tide.

Alabama 38
Tennessee 13

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Crimson Tide prepare for “season-defining” games

Although Alabama head coach Nick Saban would never admit it, and would “bless out” any individual who professed it to his face, the Crimson Tide football season has yet to begin. However, within days…that will change.

While Alabama currently stands at 6-0 overall, and 3-0 in the SEC, the competition will only get tougher, and the stakes will only increase.

The trek to Knoxville this weekend, to face the Tennessee Volunteers, will mark the beginning of a three-game stretch that will potentially define the season for Alabama. While the Vols are currently 3-3 overall, and 0-3 in the SEC, focus and intensity will be paramount in setting the tone for a critical three-week period.

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley

Following the Tide’s rivalry game at Neyland Stadium, ‘Bama will return home to face Mississippi State. In what could be argued as the toughest game of the regular season, the Bulldogs have not only lived-up to their preseason hype, but exceeded the expectations of many pundits.

An unblemished MSU squad invading Bryant-Denny Stadium could, in retrospect, be measured as the “game of the year” in the SEC, depending on how the regular season concludes.

While the contest against MSU will be critical, and potentially difficult, the game also holds significance due to the contest that follows. Call it a “trap game” or merely consider it as “two tough games in a row”…but MSU could take advantage of an Alabama squad looking ahead to LSU.

Saban and Miles "showdown" - Nov. 3

And in the spirit of looking ahead, the final game of this tough three-game stretch, is indeed…the aforementioned Tigers. If things remain the status quo, the top-ranked Crimson Tide would head to Baton Rouge to tangle with the one-loss, top-five heavyweight. As has been the case in essentially every head-to-head contest since 2008, the fate of the entire season, for both programs, may very well be at stake on Nov. 3.

To say Alabama needs to implement the “one game at a time” mindset is an understatement. Thankfully, Nick Saban is the undisputed “king” of mental discipline. Given the fact that so many positive or negative factors could bleed from one game into the next, Alabama will need to not only have physical health…but mental health.

While so many experts and “football trolls” want to discredit Alabama’s strength of schedule and quality opponents, every question will be answered in due time.

How good is Alabama? The nation will know in 21 days…

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lacy and Yeldon lead top-ranked Tide over Missouri

In the world of college football, where virtually anything can happen, even the combination of heavy rain and lightning was simply no match for Alabama.

Thanks to career-high rushing efforts from Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon, the top-ranked Crimson Tide rolled to a 42-10 victory over the downtrodden Missouri Tigers.

Alabama jumped out to a 7-0 lead within the first 45 seconds of the game, thanks to a 73-yard touchdown run courtesy of the aforementioned Lacy. What transpired the remainder of the afternoon was merely a combination of ‘Bama domination, water-logged preoccupation…and weather provoked evacuation.

With the Crimson Tide leading by the tune of 27-0 with eight minutes until intermission, the game was halted, and subsequently delayed for 38 minutes, due to lightning in the area.

Once the contest resumed, ‘Bama had a difficult time regaining their prior intensity. Due to Alabama’s “scattered” performance, Missouri scored their only touchdown of the game courtesy of a Marcus Murphy 98-yard kickoff return. While the Tigers would add a third quarter field goal, following a “weather vigilant” halftime that consisted of only five minutes, ‘Bama still held a 28-10 lead as rain continued to rule the day.

Although the outcome of the game was never in serious jeopardy, UA did “officially” put the game on ice during the final period of play. Courtesy of an Eddie Lacy one-yard touchdown, and a Kenyan Drake three-yard touchdown, the Crimson Tide increased the lead to the resulting final score of 42-10.

When all was said and done, the Alabama offense had garnered 533 total yards, and the Tide rushing effort quickly became a hallmark of the victory.

In respect to individual superlatives, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon stole the show. The career-best performances delivered by each player were very impressive, but all the more so given the inclement weather. Lacy and Yeldon carried the ball 18 times apiece, and visibly and statistically, dissected the Missouri defense. Lacy rushed for 177 yards, including three touchdowns, while Yeldon churned for 144 yards, and two scores. The Crimson Tide rushed for 362 yards as a team, and the duo of Lacy and Yeldon combined for 321.

On the defensive side of the ball, Alabama yielded only three points, and held the Tigers to a pedestrian 129 yards of total offense, which included limiting Mizzou to only three yards rushing.

Thanks to quarterback pressure and swarming overall play, Alabama forced three turnovers, two of which were interceptions by secondary performers Vinnie Sunseri and HaHa Clinton-Dix.

With the road victory at Missouri, the Crimson Tide improve to 6-0 overall, and 3-0 in the SEC. Alabama will now travel to Knoxville to tangle with traditional rival, Tennessee.

>>>Complete stats and scoring summary<<<

Crimson Tide injury report

-AJ McCarron sustained a bruised and twisted right knee during the third period of play. Although removed from the field with the help of the Alabama training staff, McCarron did not miss a single snap, but did return to the game adorning a knee brace.

-Wide receiver Christion Jones missed the entire second half due to a sprained ankle.

-Running back Eddie Lacy was seen exiting the field during the latter stages of the game, and making his way to the locker room area. While the outward appearance of the situation seemed potentially significant, the issue was nothing more than a bruised hand. In a postgame interview, Lacy told reporters the injury didn’t occur on a single play, but rather a culmination of absorbing hits from opposing helmets.

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Severe weather threat grows for Alabama/Missouri

In 24 hours, the Alabama Crimson Tide will face the Missouri Tigers in Columbia, Missouri. The Tigers will look to capture their first ever SEC victory, while the Crimson Tide will look to improve to 6-0, and keep their SEC and national title hopes alive.

That is the football aspect; however, the real story leading up to this game is the weather.

As has been warned for several days, a line of severe storms is expected to arrive in the city of Columbia during the afternoon hours. The threat includes rain, high winds, frequent lightning, with the possibility of hail and even tornadoes.

The game, which is scheduled to begin at 2:30 central time, will most certainly be played under substandard conditions, but the real issue is the potential of multiple delays, and the threat to public safety.

Saturday weather threat across Missouri

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Calloway moves to running back, Belue on the mend

In the wake of Dee Hart’s season-ending knee injury, a critical position change took place earlier this week. Brent Calloway, who began the 2012 season at the h-back position, has moved to running back in order to provide additional depth.

When the season began, the Crimson Tide were five-deep at the running back position, but due to Jalston Fowler’s season-ending knee injury, and the aforementioned Dee Hart, the once bountiful position, is now in need of support.

Where as one pivotal transition “debuted” following Alabama’s idle week, the much needed time off also allowed one key contributor the time to heal from a shoulder ailment.

Defensive back Deion Belue, who was injured during the first half of the contest against Ole Miss, is on the mend, and could contribute this Saturday against Missouri.

As of Wednesday, Nick Saban described Belue as “doing fine,” and reporters, via media viewing sessions, have confirmed that Belue has been taking repetitions at practice.

While much of the news concerning Belue is vague, the junior college transfer appears to be meeting the “injury timeline” that was noted by Nick Saban after the contest with Ole Miss.

“Deion Belue hurt his shoulder and never returned to the game,” said Saban. “I don't think that's serious. It's a week or two type deal. He's hurting right now, but I don't really feel like it's something that's going to keep him out for a long time."

Given the Tide’s idle week, Belue appears to be on-track with no apparent impediments.

In respect to the entire roster, mental and physical health will now be paramount for the top-ranked Crimson Tide. Beginning with the contest at Missouri, ‘Bama will enter a stretch of “season-defining” conference games that will take them through mid November.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Severe weather threatens Alabama/Missouri game

Courtesy of James Spann, the chief meteorologist at ABC 33/40 television in Birmingham, the Alabama/Missouri game could be hampered by severe weather.

Alabama’s road contest at Arkansas was marred by cloudy skies and on-and-off showers, but the system that could invade Missouri this weekend is very serious for not only the game, but for public safety.

The map below, courtesy of, illustrates the severe weather threat. The “D5” on the legend, signifies the date of Saturday, October, 13.

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Alabama/Missouri: Hapless Tigers prep for high Tide

As the 2012 college football season enters the second week of October, the Missouri Tigers currently find themselves trapped in a nightmare.

The Tigers, who had aspirations of making a major splash in their first season in the SEC, are currently 3-3 overall, and 0-3 in the league. After one month of play, Missouri’s last conference win is still courtesy of the Kansas Jayhawks…a member of the Big 12.

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel

After falling to the lowly Vanderbilt Commodores in their most recent outing, the downtrodden Tigers must now play host to the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, and do so with a backup quarterback.

Starting signal-caller James Franklin suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee during the first quarter of Missouri’s contest with Vanderbilt. Franklin, who is essentially the “commander” of Mizzou’s spread offense, will now be forced to watch redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser attempt to lead the Tigers against a daunting and disciplined Crimson Tide defense.

Corbin Berkstresser

In respect to statistical credentials, Berkstresser is 42-of-84 for 501 yards thus far in 2012, including three touchdown passes and one interception.

While the injury-plagued James Franklin battled a shoulder issue during the early portion of the season, Berkstresser garnered the first start of his career on Sept. 15 as the Tigers hosted Arizona State. The redshirt freshman completed 21-of-41 passes for 198 yards and one interception, as he led Mizzou to a 24-20 victory.

In regards to the contest with Vanderbilt, Berkstresser completed only 9-of-30 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown. Berkstresser has obviously never faced a defense as stingy as that of Alabama, but he has played substantial minutes either in a starting role, or in relief.

Tigers on the run

While Missouri runs the spread offense, the Tigers do have a respectable ground attack.

Kendial Lawrence leads the team in rushing with 487 yards and five touchdowns, while Marcus Murphy has 122 yards after the first six games. Although Lawrence has carried the bulk of the load, the Mizzou combo have accounted for 609 of the Tigers 837 rushing yards this season.

The Tiger paws

At the wide receiver position, one can’t discuss talent without first mentioning the setbacks. Not only setbacks that impacted the receiver position, but several aspects of the team.

Just days before Missouri's game against Vanderbilt, a total of three players, including highly-touted freshman wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, were arrested for possession of marijuana. Suspensions were delivered, and each arrested player, including two other players who were at the scene, were forced to miss the contest against the Commodores.

While Green-Beckham is expected to return for Saturday's game against Alabama, the biggest receiving threats thus far in 2012 have been Marcus Lucas and T.J. Moe. Lucas currently leads the team in both receptions and receiving yards with 30 catches for a total of 309 yards, including two touchdowns. Moe, an exceptional receiver in his own right, has 24 receptions for 231 yards and one touchdown.

Courtesy of the spread offense, many Mizzou skill players have seen plenty of action and have obtained some impressive early season numbers.

Kendial Lawrence - 10 receptions 81 yards
Jimmie Hunt - 5 receptions 100 yards 1 TD
Gahn McGaffie - 18 receptions 124 yards
Dorial Green-Beckham - 7 receptions 128 yards 1 TD
Bud Sasser - 5 receptions 139 yards 1 TD
L'Damian Washington - 9 receptions 167 yards 1 TD

The final verdict

The 2012 edition of Alabama-Missouri will mark the first meeting of the two programs since 1978. On that day, the Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers to the tune of 38-20. Even though ‘Bama was victorious some 34 years ago, the Tigers hold the overall series lead, 2-1.

As we turn to the present, and the future that will be Saturday afternoon, one can only assume that Missouri wishes they indeed had a time machine.

Since joining the SEC, the Tigers have been essentially overmatched in every conference game. Crushing losses to Georgia and South Carolina were only worsened by a home loss at the hands of Vanderbilt. The Tigers are playing SEC football, with mediocre Big 12 talent, and the results have been dreadful.

Alabama is currently a 21-point favorite, and that line, unfortunately for Tiger fans, should be an ideal representation of Saturday’s contest.

Expect the Missouri offense, led by a redshirt freshman quarterback, to be foiled by the dominant ‘Bama defense at essentially every turn.

The Alabama defense has pitched two shutouts this season, and only allow a grand total of seven points per contest on average. Don't expect too much to change come Saturday afternoon.

Alabama 35
Missouri 10

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Crimson Consumer:

If you’re looking for an online store that caters to the very heart of Alabama, look no further than the University of Alabama Supply Store.

Owned and operated by the University of Alabama, the Supply Store offers the very best in Alabama apparel, and University of Alabama shirts. In addition, the store includes everything a current UA student would need in respect to textbooks and graduation necessities.

With the 2012 Alabama football season in full swing, the desire for Crimson Tide apparel and memorabilia is soaring. If you’re looking to buy accessories that will showcase your ‘Bama football fandom, then be sure to do business with the Supply Store. Support the University of Alabama by giving your business to a UA owned establishment. If you’re a diehard fan, help support the very heart of the Tide.

During the 2011-12 athletic calendar, Alabama won championships in football, gymnastics, softball, and women’s golf. If you’re a true fan of the Tide, don’t limit your online visit to that of just football. Be sure to search for items dedicated to every aspect of Alabama athletics, but especially to the championship programs that UA celebrated over the course of the most recent athletic season.

Have pride in the Tide! Please visit the University of Alabama Supply Store for all of your Crimson Tide needs.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Knee injuries compromise season for Hart and White

Although it is not mandatory, more than a few people would concur that in order for a team to have an “elite season” in college football…the team must remain healthy.

While the 2012 edition of the Alabama Crimson Tide are currently 5-0, and ranked No. 1 in the nation, the ultimate “12th Man”...appears to be the orthopedic surgeon.

As was documented following the Tide’s victory over Ole Miss, ‘Bama, yet again, sustained several injuries in the contest, and two of which have been confirmed as season-enders.

Running back Dee Hart, and wide receiver DeAndrew White, will miss the remainder of the 2012 season due to the right knee injuries they both sustained against the Rebels. In respect to Hart, who suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in July of 2011, this current setback is all the more disappointing and unfortunate.

In terms of possible replacements for DeAndrew White, freshman Amari Cooper had a career-game against Ole Miss, and will now be called upon even more as the season progresses. Cyrus Jones, Marvin Shinn, and Danny Woodson Jr., are also viable options at the wide receiver position, although none of them have garnered substantial playing time.

As for Dee Hart’s replacement, freshman Kenyan Drake will now fill the third spot in the rotation behind Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. On the surface, one can also anticipate redshirt freshman Brent Calloway making the move from the h-back position, to running back. Calloway, who enrolled at Alabama as a running back, would give the Tide a bigger body, at 6-foot-1, 220-pounds.

Dee Hart and DeAndrew White will now join wide receiver Chris Black, running back Jalston Fowler, and safety Jarrick Williams, on the unfortunate list of Tide players who have sustained season-ending injuries since the month of August.