Thursday, December 26, 2013

Traditional powers collide in 80th annual Sugar Bowl

When it comes to the college football world, one would be hard-pressed to find two more tradition-rich programs than Oklahoma and Alabama. Marked by legendary coaches and legendary teams, the Crimson Tide and the Sooners are members of college football royalty.

Clashing in the 80th Sugar Bowl, Alabama and Oklahoma will enter the contest on very different emotional levels.

Oklahoma, having lost two games in the regular season, managed to upset in-state rival Oklahoma State on the final weekend of the regular season. The victory over the Cowboys essentially punched OU’s ticket to the prestigious, BCS aligned, Sugar Bowl. Having achieved possibly more than what was expected prior to the start of the season, the Sooners will arrive in New Orleans on a positive note.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, regardless of potential denials to the contrary, the 2014 Sugar Bowl is Alabama’s consolation prize. Having been upset on the final weekend of the regular season by the Auburn Tigers, UA’s quest for a three-peat had not only ended at the hands of an in-state rival, but ended courtesy of a missed field goal returned for a touchdown as time expired.

While Oklahoma fulfilled a goal by earning a spot in the illustrious Sugar Bowl, Alabama was forced to accept the raw hand of New Orleans after the goal of Pasadena had been derailed.

Although the faces on the field have changed, the 2008 Alabama team entered the 2009 Sugar Bowl with similar disappointed. Having been ousted by the Florida Gators in the 2008 SEC title game, the Crimson Tide entered the Sugar Bowl “hungover” after their national title hopes had been dashed one month prior. The result of being forced to accept an unwanted fate led to the Crimson Tide being “thumped” at the hands of an upstart and hungry Utah squad. Jumping out to a 21-0 lead, Alabama simply had no answer against the underdog Utes from Salt Lake City.

Given the well-documented stumble against Utah, one would be foolhardy to ignore the potential of a mental and emotional letdown by Alabama against the Sooners.
Removing all of the psychological clutter, the biggest point of “drama,” in terms of player personnel, is on the side of Oklahoma. Who the Sooners will trot out as quarterback has made for quite the guessing game, and by various media accounts, that game will continue until OU takes the field on offense for the first time. Blake Bell, Trevor Knight, and Kendal Thompson are Bob Stoops’ three options, most notably Bell and Knight.

Currently listed as 15.5-point underdog, the Sooners will obviously have a tough mountain to climb regardless of who takes the snaps against the Crimson Tide. Again, on the surface, the biggest threat to Alabama could very well be...Alabama.

If the Crimson Tide can overcome the tough pill that New Orleans is not Pasadena, and the Sugar Bowl trophy is not a crystal football, UA should be able to defeat the Sooners and cement yet another successful season.

As for the ill-fated Iron Bowl, UA’s only loss of the season, history will likely record that contest as not the day Auburn ended Alabama’s “dynasty,” but rather the day where Alabama dethroned Alabama. Ironic proof that, in the end, only the self-inflicted wounds by the nation's best team were able to take out the nation's best team.
When the Superdome goes dark on the night of Jan. 2, the nation will realize what could have been, and probably what should have been, because Alabama, in the eyes of many, will still be touted as the best overall team in the nation in respect to the 2013 season.

While it is only human nature to speculate on what would have happened had Alabama tangled with Florida State for the national title, the most celebrated senior class in arguably the history of college football will conclude a rather "sweet" career with a copious amount of high quality sugar.

Alabama 34
Oklahoma 14

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jarran Reed and D.J. Pettway sign with Alabama

While top high school prospects are not allowed to sign until February, the window for JUCO talent is officially open.

In respect to Alabama, that window has enabled the Crimson Tide to claim two of the top defensive players at the junior college level.

Defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who gave his verbal commitment to UA a few weeks ago, has officially signed with Alabama and will enroll in January. Spending the better part of his college career at East Mississippi Community College, Reed selected the Tide over the likes of Florida, Ole Miss, and Tennessee.

In respect to the most prominent JUCO signing of the day, defensive lineman D.J. Pettway is certainly the main attraction.

Pettway, who attended East Mississippi Community College with the aforementioned Jarran Reed, will make his return to the University of Alabama in January. Pettway's return to the Crimson Tide is met with hope and well as a detailed past.
In February of this year, Pettway, along with three other Tide players, were charged with second-degree robbery of two University of Alabama students. All four players were dismissed from the university.

Granted youthful offender status, Pettway enrolled at East Mississippi Community College. As noted by today's news, after playing the fall semester at EMCC, Pettway has now returned to the university where his college journey began.

Per NCAA rules, Pettway will not count against Alabama in respect to UA's scholarship limit for 2014. Having originally signed in 2011, Pettway, by rule, is still considered a member of the 2011 signing class.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sugar Bowl prep begins for Alabama

The award presentations and annual ceremonies have come and gone, and hopefully so has the sting of the Iron Bowl. With just over two weeks remaining until the 2014 Sugar Bowl, the Alabama Crimson Tide have returned to the practice field.

Entering the first practice of the bowl season, Alabama appears to be healthy, with the obvious exception of senior offensive lineman Anthony Steen.

Originally reported Monday morning courtesy of CBS Sports, Steen is expected to miss the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma due to a partially torn labrum and subsequent surgery.

Per Tide beat writer Andrew Gribble, freshman offensive lineman Grant Hill has filled Steen's role at the right guard position.

For more news and notes...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Recruiting: Several top prospects still in play for UA

Alabama currently has a total of 23 verbal commitments in respect to the 2014 signing class, but who are the remaining targets for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide?

While obviously not limited to the list below, here are several prospects Alabama will attempt to reel in as national signing day approaches.

*Final recruiting update until mid January*

Name: Marlon Humphrey
Rating: 5-star prospect - No. 1 prospect in the state of Alabama (Rivals)
School/City: Hoover High School - Hoover, Alabama
Position: Defensive Back
Status: Undecided
List: Alabama, Florida State, Mississippi State

Name: Tony Brown
Rating: 5-star prospect - No. 1 prospect in the state of Texas (Rivals)
School/City: Ozen High School - Beaumont, Texas
Position: Defensive Back
Status: Undecided
List: Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Ohio State, Texas

Name: Jalen Tabor
Rating: 5-star prospect - No. 1 prospect in Washington, D.C. (Rivals)
School/City: Friendship Collegiate Academy - Washington, D.C.
Position: Defensive Back
Status: Undecided
List: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Maryland

Name: Joe Mixon
Rating: 5-star prospect - No. 1 All-Purpose Back in the nation (Rivals)
School/City: Freedom High School - Oakley, California
Position: Running Back/All-Purpose Back
Status: Undecided
List: California, Oklahoma, UCLA, Wisconsin
Special Note: Mixon does not currently have an offer from Alabama. The decision to offer is likely pending on Leonard Fournette's final decision.

Name: Racean “Roc” Thomas
Rating: 5-star prospect (Rivals)
School/City: Oxford High School - Oxford, Alabama
Position: Running Back
Status: Verbal to Auburn
List: Alabama, Auburn

Name: Leonard Fournette
Rating: 5-star prospect - No. 1 prospect in the state of Louisiana - No. 1 running back in the nation (Rivals)
School/City: St. Augustine High School - New Orleans, Louisiana
Position: Running Back
Status: Undecided
List: Alabama, LSU, Miami, USC (among others)

Name: Lorenzo Carter
Rating: 4-star prospect (Rivals)
School/City: Norcross High School - Norcross, Georgia
Position: Defensive End
Status: Undecided
List: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Notre Dame, Oregon

Name: Rashaan Evans
Rating: 4-star prospect (Rivals)
School/City: Auburn High School - Auburn, Alabama
Position: Linebacker
Status: Undecided
List: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss, UCLA

Name: Brian Wallace
Rating: 4-star prospect (Rivals)
School/City: Christian Brothers College High School - St. Louis, Missouri
Position: Offensive Tackle
Status: Undecided
List: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska

Name: C.J. Hampton
Rating: 4-star prospect (Rivals)
School/City: Meridian High School - Meridian, Mississippi
Position: Safety
Status: Verbal to Ole Miss
List: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida State, Ole Miss
Special Note: Hampton will make his official announcement this Friday.

Name: Matt Elam
Rating: 3-star prospect (Rivals)
School/City: John Hardin High School - Elizabethtown, Kentucky
Position: Defensive Tackle
Status: Undecided
List: Alabama, Kentucky, Notre Dame


Friday, December 13, 2013

Nick Saban strikes new deal with Alabama

Originally reported by ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has agreed to a multi-year extension to remain at the University of Alabama.
Prior to Friday's contract news, Saban, who began his tenure at Alabama in 2007, had been heavily linked to the head coaching job at the University of Texas. While rumors concerning Saban's interest in the Texas job had been swirling for months, the speculation regarding Saban's future reached an all-time high earlier this week.

Per reports, Saban's new deal with Alabama, as noted in the tweet/link below, is expected to top the $7 million mark in terms of annual salary.
As for the situation in respect to Texas, current head coach Mack Brown, as of Friday night, still held his position with the Longhorns.

Courtesy of Friday’s announcement, Alabama fans can now "rest easy" after what has been an intense week of anxiety and conjecture.
The Twitter reaction from various Alabama beat writers and media outlets...

Cecil Hurt‏ @CecilHurt
Nick Saban has agreed to a multi-year contract extension with Alabama. Details upcoming on Tidesports.

Aaron Suttles‏ @AaronSuttles
I have confirmed that Nick Saban has agreed to an extension with the University of Alabama.

Andrew Gribble‏ @Andrew_Gribble
Confirming story broken by @KirkHerbstreit: Nick Saban agrees to deal that will keep him at Alabama. More coming at

SportsCenter‏ @SportsCenter
THIS JUST IN: Nick Saban agrees to multi-year contract extension to remain at Alabama. (via @KirkHerbstreit)

Alabama Athletics‏ @UA_Athletics
Nick Saban and The University of Alabama have concluded a long-term agreement to keep him as head coach of the Tide. More details to follow.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

AJ McCarron wins the 2013 Maxwell Award

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is the 2013 recipient of the Maxwell Award. The prestigious honor, given annually, is presented to the best college football player in the nation.

In what many would consider a "shocking" result, McCarron edged out Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston as well as Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
McCarron, who is also a Heisman finalist, is the first player in the history of the Alabama program to receive the Maxwell Award.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

AJ McCarron wins 2013 Golden Arm Award

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is the 2013 recipient of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

The annual honor is presented to the best senior and/or four-year quarterback in the nation.
McCarron now joins Jay Barker (1994) as the only Crimson Tide players in program history to win this prestigious award.

With the Sugar Bowl pending, McCarron has thrown for 2,676 yards and 26 touchdowns in his final season.

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

C.J. Mosley wins prestigious Butkus Award

Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley is the recipient of the Butkus Award for the 2013 season.

The annual award, which is given to the top linebacker in the nation, was presented to Mosley at Alabama's team banquet.

Mosley joins Rolando McClain and the late Derrick Thomas as the third player in program history to win the prestigious honor.
In his senior season, Mosley led the Crimson Tide in tackles with a total of 102.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Jarran Reed gives verbal to Alabama

East Mississippi Community College (Scooba, MS) defensive tackle Jarran Reed has given his verbal commitment to the University of Alabama for 2014.

Reed, who stands 6-foot-4 and tops the scale at just over 300-pounds, is scheduled to enroll at UA in January.

While listed as a defensive tackle, recruiting expert Andrew Bone has indicated that Alabama recruited Reed to play defensive end.
Originally taking the JUCO route, Reed signed with the Florida Gators in February of this year. However, after failing to meet the necessary entrance requirements, Reed returned to JUCO and reopened his recruitment.

Listed as a three-star prospect per, Reed has led his JUCO to the NJCAA title game which will be played Dec. 8 in Biloxi, MS.

With his pledge to the Crimson Tide, Jarran Reed becomes the 24th verbal commitment in respect to Alabama's 2014 signing class.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Laurence "Hootie" Jones gives verbal to Alabama

Neville High School (Monroe, LA) safety Laurence "Hootie" Jones has given his verbal commitment to the University of Alabama for 2014.
Jones, who stands 6-foot-2 and tops the scale at 210-pounds, selected the Crimson Tide over LSU after trimming a very lengthy list of scholarship offers.

Listed as a four-star recruit per, Jones is considered the No. 4 safety prospect in the nation, as well as the No. 4 overall prospect in the state of Louisiana.

With his pledge to the Crimson Tide, Hootie Jones becomes the 23rd verbal commitment in respect to Alabama's 2014 signing class.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Crimson Commentary: Alabama takes down Alabama

Instead of providing a postgame overview of the 2013 Iron Bowl, I've decided to share my personal opinions of the game, as well as my general feelings in respect to the "national view" of the UA program.

I've been watching college football for more years than I care to admit, and while one could easily make the case that Saturday's game was one of the wildest finishes in the history of college football, my focus, after the world began to settle, wasn't so much how the game ended...but how the game arrived at that point.
While giving all the credit in the world to the Auburn Tigers for a hard-fought "60 minute" effort, I think more objective fans came away from the contest with the feeling that Auburn didn't "beat" Alabama, as much as Alabama simply failed to finish the job.

Auburn beat Alabama on the scoreboard, but Alabama beat Alabama on the field.

With the obvious exception of AJ McCarron's 99-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper, the final stanza of the Iron Bowl was a total meltdown for Alabama...especially on offense.

Leading by a touchdown, Alabama had two opportunities to extend the lead by an additional two field goals, or two touchdowns. I think most reasonable people would concede that if Alabama had converted two field goals to take a 13 point lead, the contest would have likely been sealed.

While Auburn's 100-yard touchdown is the "sexy" topic of conversation, the truth is that Alabama's poor execution was bigger than any Auburn touchdown.

In retrospect, a plethora of things had to be set in motion for Auburn to even have a sniff at victory. Those "things" weren't majestic tasks, but rather basic fundamentals that Alabama failed to execute.

The lack of the basics, especially in the final quarter, gave Auburn a chance. Arguably a chance the Tigers had no business having at that stage of the game.

Under Nick Saban, especially since 2008, the Crimson Tide have looked and played like, "Saban coached teams." However, when the chips were down against the Auburn Tigers, 'Bama appeared to lack confidence in virtually every phase of the game. The lack of confidence, amongst other things, is what derailed many games prior to Saban's arrival.

Losing to Auburn, regardless of the "extra stakes" is tough enough, but when you factor today's loss, and how it happened, with what Alabama failed to achieve in respect to the conference and national picture...the defeat is heartbreaking. Losing a contest in a hard-fought battle where both teams left it all on the field is tough, but yet admirable and "acceptable" from a fan standpoint. However, losing to Auburn simply because the "basics" were not performed, is rather hard to swallow.
I'm far from naive, so I'm very aware that no one wanted to win more than the Alabama coaching staff and players. I love the Alabama football program and will certainly never forget what the 2013 senior class has given to/for the program. I wanted Alabama to play their best game to satisfy my fandom, but I also wanted this group of young men to have a shot at college football history. I wanted a "three-peat" for them...

In respect to the gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of Auburn, the game is over, and the day is done. Alabama will certainly bounce back and have many more wonderful seasons, and they'll also have many stinging defeats. Heartbreak and triumph...for it is life.
As of late 2013, many people have a strong disdain for the Alabama football program, and I couldn't be more thrilled. College football fans don't "hate" on a 4-7 team, because people simply don't care. As long as people can't stand Alabama, that means people are tired of watching the program have success.

I'll never worry about people having hatred for Alabama football...I'll worry when they don't care at all.

When the entire nation can cheer at your expense, you've reached the pinnacle. Even in this most recent defeat, the University of Alabama is still the gold standard by which the rest of college football is measured.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Crimson Crossover: Tigers eye the ultimate prize

Alabama - 2013

Record: 11-0
Conference Record: 7-0 (SEC Western Division)
Last Game: Alabama 49 Chattanooga 0

Auburn - 2013

Record: 10-1
Conference Record: 6-1 (SEC Western Division)
Last Game: Auburn 43 Georgia 38

History lesson

Series: Alabama leads series 42-34-1 (First meeting in 1893)
Most Recent Meeting: Alabama 49 Auburn 0 (2012)

Setting the scene

Alabama vs. Auburn
Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn, Alabama
Betting Line: Alabama -10.5 (as of 11/26)

Beat writers of the week

Joel A. Erickson - Covers Auburn football and basketball for the Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register and Huntsville Times, or

Twitter: @JoelAEricksonAU

Alex Byington - Auburn beat writer for the Opelika-Auburn News.

Twitter: @AUBlog

Follow Joel and Alex via Twitter to get the latest (breaking) news concerning the Auburn Tigers as they prepare for Alabama.

Auburn on the wire

>>Rivals Alabama, Auburn gear up for Top-5 matchup

>>Wire: How Auburn can challenge Alabama in Iron Bowl

>>CECIL HURT: Alabama-Auburn doesn't get much bigger

>>Alabama and Auburn prepare for historic Iron Bowl

>>AUBURN FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Malzahn, Tigers trying to ‘live in the moment’

>>It was fun, but that effort (Georgia game) won't help Auburn upset Alabama (Nov. 16)

>>Auburn defenders say AJ McCarron 'does everything you want in a quarterback'

The weekly quotables
The Crimson Elephant verdict

In less than 12 months, the miraculous turnaround of the Auburn Tigers has been completed.

First-year head coach Gus Malzahn has managed to do what many media pundits, and even AU fans, viewed as virtually impossible. The Tigers have gone from the outhouse to the doorstep of the one year.

Auburn currently sits at 10-1 on the season, with a No. 4 ranking in the BCS. The swift turnaround is quite amazing, but the way it has been achieved is arguably more amazing.

Finding creative formations to run the football has been Auburn's speciality this season. The Tigers, with a mediocre defense, and essentially a one-dimensional offense, have managed to ride the "smoke and mirrors" train to the cusp of the SEC title game...and potentially the national title game.
Of course, Auburn has had some late-game heroics, and the ideal amount of luck. The contests against Mississippi State, Texas A&M, and Georgia come to mind. All the king's horses and all the king's men were working together in those games. As was the case with the 2010 Auburn squad, the 2013 Tigers are 10-1, but they could just as well be entering the 78th Iron Bowl with a record of 7-4.

In respect to Saturday, the key to the game will likely be unearthed when Auburn is on offense. Can the Tigers run the football on a consistent basis? The answer to that question will probably determine who plays in Atlanta next week.

Another important question...

Can Nick Marshall beat Alabama with his arm if the Auburn ground game stalls? Certainly possible...but not very probable. If Marshall is forced to prove himself in the passing game, one has to like Alabama's chances on the defensive side of the ball.
While the media will continue to hype Saturday's game as the be-all and end-all, Alabama is a far superior team. Barring an unstoppable Auburn offensive attack, coupled with a healthy dose of Crimson Tide turnovers, Alabama should win the contest by a double-figure margin.

UA's balanced offensive attack will likely pose a major threat to the Auburn defense, but if that attack is coupled with a less than stellar Auburn offensive effort, the game could get out of hand in a hurry.

As with any rivalry game, raw emotion can only carry the underdog so far. 10 minutes? The entire first quarter? Well, what happens going forward? When it comes to "getting busy" and playing head-to-head football, as noted above, Alabama is the better team and deeper team. In order for Auburn to be in the mix of things late in the final quarter of play, the Tigers will need help from Alabama. "Gun-to-foot" type of help.

The last time Auburn faced a brutally tough and physical football team on both sides of the ball, came in the September contest against LSU. Auburn lost the game in rather convincing fashion.

Come Saturday afternoon, Auburn will face LSU's better, bigger, and tougher older brother. Once the "rah-rah" wears down, expect Alabama to pump some "iron" at Auburn's expense.

Alabama 34
Auburn 20

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Josh Frazier gives verbal to Alabama

Having lost two verbal commitments over the course of the week, offensive lineman Viane Talamaivao (USC) and defensive back Stephen Roberts (Auburn), the Alabama football program reeled in a highly touted prospect in the midst of Saturday's college football action.

Roughly three hours after Alabama defeated Chattanooga, Har-Ber High School (Springdale, Arkansas) defensive tackle Josh Frazier gave his verbal commitment to the University of Alabama for 2014.
Frazier, who stands 6-foot-3 and tops the scale at 334-pounds, selected the Crimson Tide over the likes of Arkansas, Auburn, Texas A&M, and USC.

Listed as a four-star prospect per, Frazier is also listed as the No. 1 player in the state of Arkansas.

With his verbal pledge to the Crimson Tide, Josh Frazier becomes the 22nd verbal commitment in respect to Alabama's 2014 signing class.

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Seniors leave on high note, 'Bama routs Chattanooga

In a contest which fulfilled a storyline that most everyone had predicted, the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Chattanooga Mocs by the score of 49-0.

The game, essentially dedicated to the 2013 senior class, featured a nice mix of offense, defense, special teams, and a few tears courtesy of proud family members and friends.
Garnering a total of 435 yards in total offense, Alabama cruised to victory while clearing the bench in the process. The second half of play, especially the final quarter, was dedicated to "effort appreciation," which allowed several walk-ons to participate in at least one snap of live action. With the obvious exception of injury or a redshirt effort, all "eligible" players earned playing time.
For many fans and even casual observers, the "game highlight" came when senior quarterback AJ McCarron completed a three yard pass to his brother, Corey. The completion was the first McCarron-to-McCarron connection since the two have played at UA.
-Complete Stats-

The top-ranked Crimson Tide will now travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium to tangle with the Auburn Tigers. With a birth in the SEC title game on the line, the 2013 edition of the "Iron Bowl" will be the most significant "clash" between the two programs in many, many years.


With a career record, as a starter, of 36-2, AJ McCarron is officially the winningest quarterback in the history of the Alabama football program.
Injury report

Late in the initial half of action against Chattanooga, 'Bama offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio sustained a twisted ankle.

Per Nick Saban, in his postgame press conference, the injury does not appear to be serious and Kouandjio could have returned to the game if needed.
Media recap of Alabama's victory over Chattanooga

Alabama beat writer Michael Casagrande recaps Alabama's victory over the Mocs.
Miss the game due to pay-per-view? Watch the highlights courtesy of the SEC Digital Network.
View "Senior Day" in pictures courtesy of The Anniston Star.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2014 Alabama Football Schedule

Aug. 30       ^West Virginia                 

Sept. 6         Florida Atlantic                

Sept. 13       Southern Mississippi

Sept. 20       *Florida

Sept. 27        IDLE                             

Oct. 4          *at Ole Miss                   

Oct. 11        *at Arkansas                  

Oct. 18        *Texas A&M                  

Oct. 25        *at Tennessee

Nov. 1          IDLE

Nov. 8         *at LSU                             

Nov. 15       *Mississippi State          

Nov. 22       Western Carolina        

Nov. 29        *Auburn

^Georgia Dome (Atlanta)
*SEC Contest             

Alabama's senior class will be defined by excellence

Due to the opposition (calling a spade a spade) and in honor of the final home contest of the season, this week's “game preview” (Crimson Crossover) will be dedicated to the senior members of the 2013 Alabama football team.

With the hardware and personal accolades to validate the claim, one would be hard-pressed to find a more dominant class in the history of college football.
To the 2013 senior class, thank you for your dedication, hard work, and championship resolve.

Fifth-year Seniors: 59 total wins (and counting)
Four-year Seniors: 45 total wins (and counting)

Roll Tide!

WR - Tyler Bass
WR - Kenny Bell
DB - Deion Belue
K - Cade Foster
DB - John Fulton
P - Cody Mandell
QB - AJ McCarron
LB - C.J. Mosley
WR - Kevin Norwood
LB - Tana Patrick
WR - Ty Reed
OL - Anthony Steen
DE - Ed Stinson
LB - Matt Tinney
OL - Kellen Williams

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

No. 1 Alabama turns away stubborn Mississippi State

Marred by a plethora of turnovers and overall sloppy play in general, the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide managed to defeat a stubborn Mississippi State squad by the score of 20-7.

Call it a "post LSU hangover" or simply a lack of basic fundamentals and execution, the Crimson Tide looked very "mediocre" at times in the face of a very spirited MSU team.
While Alabama never trailed in the contest, the Crimson Tide were never able to gain momentum and essentially "break the will" of the Bulldogs. Instead, the Alabama defense simply held Mississippi State at bay until the contest meandered to a close.
For those who enjoy comparison shopping, one could obviously, and without argument, make the case that Saturday's game with Mississippi State was the most "sluggish" Alabama has looked since the late September contest against Colorado State.
In respect to the positive side of life, running back T.J. Yeldon rushed for a career-high 160 yards against the Bulldogs, including a 50-yard run in the initial half of play. Yeldon averaged 6.7 yards per carry against a stout MSU defensive front.

In total offense, the Crimson Tide garnered 383 yards while holding Mississippi State to 197.

Defensively, Alabama used a "bend but don't break" effort against the Bulldogs for essentially the entire game. UA forced one turnover in the contest courtesy of an interception by safety HaHa Clinton-Dix.
-Complete Stats-

Injury report

Tight end Brian Vogler suffered what visually appeared to be a lower leg injury during the latter stages of the game. In his postgame press conference, head coach Nick Saban confirmed that Vogler sustained a sprained ankle.

While Saban did not mention T.J. Yeldon when confirming those who were injured, Tide beat writer Marquavius Burnett tweeted that Yeldon exited the stadium adorning a walking boot.
Using examples such as Eddie Lacy last season, and AJ McCarron prior to the contest with Virginia Tech, the utilization of a walking boot is a common practice and often a precautionary measure.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Da'Shawn Hand to 'Bama catches UM site off guard

In what has become a national media story, five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand has given his verbal commitment to the University of Alabama for 2014.

Now that Hand's commitment to the Tide is "verbally official," we can all take a sneak peek at what happens when an assumption is so strong that it comes out before the truth. Or in this case, the assumption comes out AS the truth. Da'Shawn Hand to Michigan? While many recruiting experts shared the same sentiment, one UM outlet put the cart before the horse.

Courtesy of the "cached page," college football fans can read all about Michigan's newest commitment, Da'Shawn Hand.



Da'Shawn Hand gives verbal to Alabama

Woodbridge Senior High School (Woodbridge, VA) defensive end Da'Shawn Hand has given his verbal commitment to the University of Alabama for 2014.

Hand, who stands 6-foot-4 and tops the scale at 260-pounds, selected the Crimson Tide over the likes of Florida and Michigan.
Regarded as the top defensive end in the nation, and the top overall prospect in the nation, per, Hand's declaration has come as a "shock" to many people in the recruiting world.

While Alabama was certainly a heavy contender, most recruiting "experts" had given Michigan the nod in respect to Hand's services.
Making his announcement via press conference, Hand, who has openly expressed his desire for a strong academic setting, praised the University of Alabama as well as Charles Karr, the dean of engineering at UA. Essentially "falling in love" with what he saw on the academic side of the equation, Hand plans to enroll in Alabama's civil engineering program.

With his pledge to the Crimson Tide, Da'Shawn Hand becomes the 23rd verbal commitment in respect to Alabama's 2014 signing class.
For those who were "out of pocket" during Da'Shawn Hand's announcement, be sure to click the link below to see the top prospect in the nation give his pledge to Alabama. - the #1 destination for headwear

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Crimson Crossover: UA enters raucous Starkville

Alabama - 2013

Record: 9-0
Conference Record: 6-0 (SEC Western Division)
Last Game: Alabama 38 LSU 17

Mississippi State - 2013

Record: 4-5
Conference Record: 1-4 (SEC Western Division)
Last Game: Texas A&M 51 Mississippi State 41

History lesson

Series: Alabama leads series 75-18-3 (First meeting in 1896)
Most Recent Meeting: Alabama 38 Mississippi State 7 (2012)

Setting the scene

Alabama vs. Mississippi State
Davis Wade Stadium – Starkville, Mississippi
Betting Line: Alabama -25 (as of 11/12)
Beat writer of the week

Matthew Stevens - Mississippi State beat writer for The Commercial Dispatch in Columbus, Miss.

Twitter: @matthewcstevens

Follow Matthew via Twitter to get the latest (breaking) news concerning the Mississippi State Bulldogs as they prepare for Alabama.

Mississippi State on the wire

*Helmet tap to Alabama beat writer Andrew Gribble for article accessibility*

>>Alabama presents different problem for Mississippi State

>>Mississippi State battered going into Bama

>> Scouting report: Mississippi State vs. No. 1 Alabama

>>(Dan) Mullen Monday press conference leading into Mississippi State’s game vs Alabama

The weekly quotable

Nick Saban would highly disagree...
The Crimson Elephant verdict

Mississippi State is a "scrappy" football team. Unlike the MSU squads from years gone by, the current edition of the Bulldogs seemingly have a "never quit" attitude. Granted, demeanor and emotion can only go so far, but Mississippi State, unlike other SEC teams, simply won't "roll over" for Alabama.

Quarterback Dak Prescott, who recently lost his mother to cancer, is nothing short of a "warrior," both mentally and physically. While Prescott is currently listed as "questionable" for the contest against Alabama due to an elbow injury, the "final verdict" in respect to game action will not be delivered until later this week. If Prescott is unable to participate, Tyler Russell will get the nod at quarterback. While Prescott, by most accounts, is the more viable option for the Bulldogs, Russell is a savvy veteran with ample experience.

The desire of an emotional and physical football team, coupled with rowdy "cowbell loving" fans, should keep MSU in the game for at least a quarter. Starkville has always been a "trap game" for essentially every "Goliath" for the better part of three decades.
Alabama is a far superior football team, but that is certainly not breaking news. The question come Saturday night will be how Alabama responds after an emotional victory over LSU. One needs to look no further than 2012 to see what can transpire one week after an emotional victory over the Tigers.

In respect to the present, Mississippi State has nothing to lose, while Alabama, well...the entire season is on the line.

Although not seen or even formally recognized most of the time, Nick Saban's best "coaching job" often comes not before the biggest game, but before the biggest trap. Don't think the best active coach in college football won't have his squad ready for the "kitchen sink" come Saturday night.

Alabama 35
Mississippi State 10

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Alabama’s physicality proves too much for LSU

While the Alabama football program is in “the process” of building the greatest dynasty in the history of the collegiate ranks, per some, the Crimson Tide still have something to prove.

While the “haters gonna hate” motif is about as worn as Miley Cyrus’ foam finger, if any program has ever had a legion of “haters”…it would be Alabama.
Yes, the disdain for the Alabama football program is strong, but as history now records, Alabama’s resolve against LSU…was far stronger. When the chips were down, the Crimson Tide successfully “processed” yet another opposition.

Leading 17-14 at intermission, with the game, and season, very much on the line, Alabama dominated the second half of play en route to a convincing 38-17 victory over the LSU Tigers.
Unable to sustain a ground attack, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger was forced to drive the LSU car all by himself. The task would prove to be unfruitful, and by the latter stages of the contest, Mettenberger would be virtually eaten alive by the Crimson Tide defense. In his final snap of the game, a 4th and 28 scenario, Mettenberger would be crushed by a host of Alabama tacklers. In that moment, essentially a definitive summary of the second half for the Tigers, a physically wilted Mettenberger would limp to the LSU sideline.
While the Crimson Tide offense did have a rather balanced attack in the initial half of play, highlighted by touchdown receptions courtesy of tight end O.J. Howard and wide receiver Kevin Norwood, the second stanza offered far more physicality up front, and far more overall production.

In an age of aerial assaults and 400 yard passing performances, the Alabama offense relied on the ground attack. T.J. Yeldon, who delivered bruising run after bruising run, finished the game with 133 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

The more physical tone, displayed on both sides of the ball, appeared to visually increase the confidence of the entire Alabama squad, while mentally and physically draining the life out of LSU.
When the clock finally hit zero, Nick Saban and AJ McCarron shared an embrace, and the Alabama detractors, more than likely, downed another drink. Perhaps, just perhaps, a portion of the “process” is about teaching people to be tolerant of the success and achievement of others.

With the victory over LSU, Alabama improves to 9-0 on the season and 6-0 in the SEC.

---Complete Stats---
TomTom Go Confidently

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Crimson Commentary: The life of a hardcore fan

If you're a hardcore fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide football program, the season, while exciting, has the potential to pose some hardcore stress that can be, at times, an equal to the fandom itself.

For the novice and casual Alabama fan, the entire football season, and the entire football fandom, is literally reduced to the three or four hour period of the actual game. Once the clock strikes zero, the love for Alabama football is placed in a box, and then reopened just in time for opening kickoff the following weekend.

Us hardcore folks, well, our "gameday" doesn't end when the lights go out in the stadium. The "season" for the hardcore fan is essentially a nonstop "grind" of fandom that will never expire until we exit the earth.
So where's the stress and anxiety? The "professional fan" is always "on" when it comes to following Alabama football, and due to that reason, the collection of news, the expression of opinion(s), and the pontification of current and future events is as certain as death and taxes.

When the "concerns" and anticipation of an Alabama football related issue impacts your day-to-day life, you're officially a professional hardcore fan. When you stop your day on a random Tuesday morning to load a live video stream of a recruit giving his verbal commitment to Alabama,'re a professional fan. The examples are endless, but the point is quite clear.

With the evolution of social media, most notably Twitter, the hardcore Crimson Tide fan is always in a race to read the latest practice report, latest injury report, latest recruiting update, latest pundit opinion, and quite obviously, the latest "troll" by some less than impressive "expert" of the game. The constant rumors, rival fan innuendo, and just the basic "formula" of turning something minuscule into a "doomsday" prophecy, is what keeps the hardcore Alabama fan on edge, yet at the same time, very much excited.
The Alabama "professional fandom" is as prevalent as a beauty mark. Granted, the obsession could cause you to lose your marriage, jeopardize your occupation, and potentially pose a personal health risk, but whatever...right? Alabama football is forever, and forever is quite a long time.

Cheers to the unabashed hardcore fan. Wear your stress and anxiety with pride, and keep rolling with the Crimson Tide!

Now, please return to Twitter to check for the latest updates. Will Alabama be able to focus on the LSU Tigers now that Nick Saban has officially announced his departure for the University of Texas?


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Crimson Crossover: LSU looks to derail Alabama

LSU - 2013

Record: 7-2
Conference Record: 3-2 (SEC Western Division)
Last Game: LSU 48 Furman 16

Alabama - 2013

Record: 8-0
Conference Record: 5-0 (SEC Western Division)
Last Game: Alabama 45 Tennessee 10

History lesson

Series: Alabama leads series 47-25-5 (First meeting in 1895)
Most Recent Meeting: Alabama 21 LSU 17 (2012)

Setting the scene

LSU vs. Alabama
Bryant-Denny Stadium – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Betting Line: Alabama -12.5 (as of 11/5)

Beat writers of the week

Randy Rosetta - LSU beat writer for The New Orleans Times-Picayune and

Twitter: @RandyRosetta

Jim Kleinpeter - Sports writer for | The Times-Picayune since 1984.

Twitter: @JimKleinpeter

Follow Randy and Jim via Twitter to get the latest (breaking) news concerning the LSU Tigers as they prepare for Alabama.

LSU on the wire

>>Transcript of LSU coach Les Miles' Monday press conference (Alabama week)

>>LSU prep starts in earnest for Alabama

>>Harris: LSU treks to Alabama for latest test of faith

>>Alabama-LSU tops the national rivalry list

>>Alabama-LSU still big even if it's no 'Game of Century'

The weekly quotable
The Crimson Elephant verdict

In many ways the “verdict” of the 2013 edition of the LSU/Alabama contest feels eerily similar to the 2012 breakdown. During that week, the story was LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, and his massive underachievement. The “verdict” was that unless the LSU signal caller had a career game, the Tigers had very little chance to beat Alabama.

What transpired?

Mettenberger had the game of his life against the Alabama defense, and LSU fans, for the first time, got a glimpse of the quarterback the Tigers had signed, the quarterback with all the hype, the quarterback with the accurate arm. For the first time, Zach Mettenberger proved his worth.

However, as history records, Mettenberger’s phenomenal effort wasn’t quite good enough, but to the objective eye…it should have been. Alabama pulled out a miraculous final drive, but Mettenberger, by all accounts, couldn’t have given a better performance.
Enter 2013…

Replace “Mettenberger” with “LSU’s defense”…and a new story can be written.

For LSU to defeat the top-ranked Crimson Tide, the defense, weakened by graduation and early player entry into the NFL Draft, will need to pull a “Mettenberger” come Saturday night.

The Tiger defense, a stalwart of the Les Miles era, currently allows 21.3 points per contest. Given Alabama’s offensive output, and the various weapons on the offensive side of the ball, it will be imperative for the Tigers to dissolve the ‘Bama rushing attack, and force AJ McCarron to have an “elite” night in the passing game.

As for the aforementioned Mettenberger, he’ll need to be accurate in the passing game, but he’ll also need help from his supporting cast. Wide receivers Odell Beckham, Jr., and Jarvis Landry, coupled with running back Jeremy Hill, will be the backbone of the offense. Alabama only allows 9.8 points per game, No. 1 in the nation in that category. To say the Tigers have a challenge on offense is quite the understatement.
As is the case in most “hype machine” games, expect emotion to control the early stages of the contest. Cursory logic suggests the actual game won’t even begin, in full, until the latter stages of the first quarter.

When throwing darts at the board in terms of making a prediction, the most simplistic concept always comes to mind; the better team usually wins. Alabama, by all accounts, is the better team.

LSU, at least this season, simply doesn't have all the pieces in place to go blow-for-blow with Alabama.

Barring something totally unforeseen, expect the Crimson Tide to slowly grind the game away, and in the process, defeat the LSU Tigers by double figures.

Alabama 27
LSU 13

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Josh Casher gives verbal to Alabama

St. Paul’s High School (Mobile, AL) offensive lineman Josh Casher has given his verbal commitment to the University of Alabama for 2014.
Casher, who stands 6-foot-1 and tops the scale at 300-pounds, selected the Crimson Tide over Florida State.

In April, the St. Paul’s standout gave his verbal pledge to Auburn, but eventually decommitted from the Tigers in late July and reopened his recruitment.

Currently attending the same high school that produced AJ McCarron, Casher is listed as a four-star prospect per

With the inclusion of the 9th ranked prospect in the state of Alabama, the Crimson Tide have now solidified 22 verbal commitments in respect to the 2014 signing class.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Top-ranked Tide “smokes” overmatched Tennessee

Break out the cigars…Alabama has done it again. For the seventh consecutive season, the Alabama Crimson Tide owned the Tennessee Volunteers. In a contest that wasn’t unlike many since 2007, UA “smoked” the Vols by the score of 45-10.

Courtesy of 479 yards of total offense, and the “signature” Alabama defense, the Vols never found an answer for the top-ranked team in the nation.
Jumping out to a 21-0 lead by the conclusion of the initial quarter of play, Alabama dominated the contest from start to finish.

Needless to say, the “red team” had UT coach Butch Jones seeing “red” by the time the clock hit zero.

While Crimson Tide players and fans enjoy a nice victory cigar, per tradition, Tennessee will “huff and puff” over yet another beating at the hands of Alabama.

With the victory over Tennessee, 'Bama improves to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the SEC.

--Complete Stats--
Injury report/Cigar showcase

While Alabama sustained the “typical” bumps and bruises, overall, UA exited the contest with Tennessee in relatively good health.
As Cecil Hurt expressed in his commentary piece, the current status of the Alabama/Tennessee rivalry is "flimsy" at best. However, tradition is tradition, and the 45-10 victory over the Vols was celebrated with a smoke show.

Enjoy the photo gallery of ‘Bama players partaking in a time-honored tradition that is synonymous following a victory over the Vols.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Crimson Crossover: Confidence on Rocky Top

Tennessee - 2013

Record: 4-3
Conference Record: 1-2 (SEC - Eastern Division)
Last Game: Tennessee 23 South Carolina 21

Alabama - 2013

Record: 7-0
Conference Record: 4-0 (SEC - Western Division)
Last Game: Alabama 52 Arkansas 0

History lesson

Series: Alabama leads series 49-38-7 (First meeting in 1901)
Most Recent Meeting: Alabama 44 Tennessee 13 (2012)

Setting the scene

Tennessee vs. Alabama
Bryant-Denny Stadium – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Betting Line: Alabama -28.5 (as of 10/22)

---Click Here To Track The Line---
Beat writer of the week

Evan Woodbery - Covers the University of Tennessee and college football for the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Twitter: @TennesseeBeat

Follow Evan via Twitter to get the latest (breaking) news concerning the Tennessee Volunteers as they prepare for Alabama.

Tennessee on the wire

>>Tennessee's progress to be tested at No. 1 Alabama

>>FOOTBALL CENTRAL: #1/1 Alabama The Vols Travel To Tuscaloosa on Oct. 26 for a 3:30 p.m. ET SEC Rivalry on CBS

>>Butch Jones on Alabama: 'Their program is what we are building here at Tennessee' (Jones’ Monday press conference)

>>Justin Worley's development evident in Tennessee Vols' progress

The weekly quotable

While many fans and pundits have spent ample time discussing Tennessee's "upset victory" over South Carolina, UT head coach Butch Jones seems to have the ideal perspective.
The Crimson Elephant verdict

For the first time, in a very long time, Tennessee has a competent football coach and a bucket of confidence.

While still lacking depth at key positions, the Vols are a much improved football team, and are currently playing better than they ever played under Derek Dooley.
Although Georgia was/is hapless and injury plagued, Tennessee did manage to take the Bulldogs to overtime, and last week, as the nation witnessed, UT defeated South Carolina in grand fourth quarter fashion.

Tennessee, with a quality victory over a ranked opponent? Amazing! Quite amazing considering Vol fans, reasonable Vol fans, possibly wondered if a "big win" would ever happen again in the foreseeable future. Prior to Saturday, most college football fans, if asked, probably couldn't recall the last time Tennessee actually won a "meaningful" game.

Enter Alabama...

Cue the whole, "this will be a good litmus test" narrative. Cue it, because it is ever so true...

Tennessee is a much improved football team. Much improved from a garbage football team. If one is inclined to call a spade a spade, the 2013 edition of Tennessee/Alabama shouldn't be unlike the contests of the most recent years.

Alabama is almost a 30-point favorite over the Vols. The line is based on the fact Alabama is simply that good, and not so much on the fact that UT is an "improving" program.

Under the umbrella of fair assumption, the Vols will probably never beat Alabama as long as Nick Saban resides in Tuscaloosa. Having said that, Butch Jones will likely have the Vols "bowl bound" for the remainder of his tenure at Tennessee.

As for Saturday, Tide fans...don't forget the victory cigars!

Alabama 38
Tennessee 13


Monday, October 21, 2013

Vinnie Sunseri to miss the remainder of 2013 season

Initially reported by Marquavius Burnett of The Anniston Star, Nick Saban has confirmed (Monday presser) that Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri will be lost for the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL in his left knee.
Sunseri, one of the top contributors on the defensive side of the ball, was injured in Saturday’s game against Arkansas while working punt coverage for the special teams unit.

In Sunseri’s absence, expect the likes of Landon Collins and Jarrick Williams to take over the duties at strong safety.

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