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 AL.com.

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 penthouse...in 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 Rivals.com, 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.

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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 Rivals.com, 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.
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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---
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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, yeah...you'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 NOLA.com.

Twitter: @RandyRosetta

Jim Kleinpeter - Sports writer for NOLA.com | 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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