Sunday, September 21, 2014

Alabama's aerial assault proves too much for Florida

Lane Kiffin's offense has once again proved to be too much for the opposition. Courtesy of 445 yards passing from Blake Sims and 201 yards receiving from Amari Cooper, the Alabama Crimson Tide rolled the Florida Gators by the score of 42-21.

While the performance was far from a thing of beauty, especially in the first half of play, the Crimson Tide were able to overcome four turnovers to break a 21-21 tie in the second half of action.

-Click HERE for complete stats-

Postgame news and notes

Some structure changes within the blog have caused a few hiccups in respect to organization and time, so I'll respectfully turn the game recap over to Alabama beat writer Marquavius Burnett. I also encourage you to visit Mr. Burnett's Twitter page ( for some impressive statistics concerning the Tide. Scroll through the first 15 tweets or so to find some great information.

Nick Saban's postgame presser

Tide coach Nick Saban addresses the media following Alabama's conference victory over Florida.

Looking ahead

While the Crimson Tide looked as messy as a mud hill for essentially half of the game against Florida, 'Bama was able to overcome a plethora of turnovers to still take control of the contest against UF and win by 21 points. The ability to overcome adversity, self-inflicted or otherwise, is one of the most defining traits of a quality team and Alabama was certainly tested against the Gators.

Given the minor injury to Blake Sims and the typical bumps and bruises that come from playing the first four games of the season, Alabama's idle week is coming at the perfect time. The Crimson Tide will have the opportunity to heal while also improving basic fundamentals and scheming for the Ole Miss Rebels.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Game Preview: Florida - Alabama

The 2014 SEC season has arrived for the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida Gators will be the first test in what promises to be yet another challenging and grueling SEC schedule.

Hungry for an upset, as are most teams that tangle with the Tide, Alabama will have to rise to the occasion in order to send the Gators back to Gainesville with a loss.

Betting Line: Alabama -14.5 (as of 9/17)

-Click HERE to track the line-

Florida Gators

After being delayed a full week due to their season-opener being scratched because of severe weather, Florida will enter Bryant-Denny Stadium with a record of 2-0.

Defeating Eastern Michigan by the score of 65-0 following the game that wasn't, the Gators were taken to three overtimes at home by the much improved and unrelenting Kentucky Wildcats.

While UF will test Alabama like no other team has this season, it has yet to be seen how the Gators truly stack up against top competition. Is Kentucky really that good or is Florida still the same sour team that went 4-8 in 2013? Only time will tell.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel, running backs Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, and defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III are five key players for Florida. In the contest with Kentucky, Robinson caught 15 passes for 216 yards and what would be the game saving touchdown in the initial overtime session.

Alabama Crimson Tide

In respect to Alabama the message is quite clear. Keep doing what you're doing...only at a higher level. Luckily for the Crimson Tide, with the possible exception of the secondary, most notably corner, UA doesn't have any glaring issues to handle.

Blake Sims, once again, will get the start at quarterback this weekend and unless something major happens Jake Coker will be relegated to spectator status.

Excluding a victory, which is obviously the goal for any and every game, one of the most important aspects for Alabama will involve building a tighter team chemistry and perhaps a better rhythm on the offensive side of the ball. The Tide defense will obviously need to be more physical in order to take care of the Gators. Forcing a few turnovers would be just what the doctor ordered.

Game nuggets

-As noted in the Southern Mississippi postgame blog, safety Nick Perry will miss the first half of Saturday's contest with Florida due to his targeting ejection against USM.

-Wide receiver DeAndrew White is expected to return to the lineup this weekend after being out of action for two weeks due to a separated shoulder.

-Safety Jarrick Williams, who underwent foot surgery following the West Virginia game, has not officially been ruled out by Nick Saban in respect to the Florida contest. Williams was originally projected to miss four weeks of action.

-True freshman defensive back Tony Brown has been working opposite Cyrus Jones in practice with the first team defense. Will that translate to a starting role for Brown this weekend? It is certainly worth a watch. Nick Saban said (Wednesday presser) that Brown will play substantial minutes against Florida.

-As noted above when discussing UA's quarterback situation, Nick Saban has noted that Jake Coker will only play against Florida if needed. Logic suggests that Blake Sims will play every meaningful snap against the Gators based on Saban's remarks.


While Alabama is the better team, often times the glow of such a big stage can get the best of players. Although the contest with Florida is not a high pressure "all eyes on Tuscaloosa" affair, this will be the first start for Blake Sims against SEC competition. All it takes is a rough first quarter to be placed behind the eight ball.

As for Florida, one would think that UF's close encounter with Kentucky would essentially prove that Will Muschamp's struggles of 2013 have carried over to 2014, but that's very hard to say. Perhaps UF just had a bad (fluke) game against a Kentucky team they potentially took for granted.

The Crimson Tide are favored to beat Florida by two touchdowns and logic would suggest such a betting line would be accurate.

If UF manages to keep the game close, the final narrative will be more about Alabama's struggles than Florida's new found stability. As is the case in most games during the Saban era, all the pressure will be on the Crimson Tide simply because so much is expected.

Only in this current age of Alabama football can a victory feel like a loss. If said victory falls short of the standard of excellence which has been in place for several seasons, a faction of people will always walk away unsatisfied.

Saturday's game could be one of those "win it on the scoreboard and lose it in the feelings" scenario for some.

--- Alabama 27 Florida 13 ---

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sims and rushing attack lead Alabama over Southern Miss

Courtesy of 547 yards of total offense, 333 on the ground, the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles by the score of 52-12.

While UA looked a tad sluggish in the early stages of the contest, the Crimson Tide gave USM "the business" in the second stanza.

-Click HERE for complete stats-

Postgame news and notes

In this abbreviated game recap, Alabama beat writer Marquavius Burnett has the rest of today's story from Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Nick Saban's postgame presser

Tide coach Nick Saban shares his thoughts following Alabama's victory over Southern Mississippi.

Looking ahead

Alabama will begin the 2014 SEC season next Saturday with a clash against the Florida Gators.

While UF did have one heck of a time against the Kentucky Wildcats, eventually winning the game in three overtime sessions, the contest against Will Muschamp's Florida club will be a great litmus test for Alabama.

How good is Blake Sims under the hot lights of the SEC? Can Sims react accordingly when playmaker Amari Cooper isn't open? Can the Tide defense get pressure on Florida's mobile quarterback while playing sound pass coverage? How will the loss of safety Nick Perry impact Alabama during the first two quarters? Those are just a few questions that Alabama will attempt to answer next weekend.

Is an upset possible? Certainly. The Crimson Tide have had several kinks in the water flow even against inferior competition, so the eyes of the nation will certainly be on Tuscaloosa for a number of reasons.

Alabama's true identity remains a mystery. Fans and pundits alike will find out what the Tide is made of in the very near future.

TomTom Go Confidently

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Game Preview: Southern Mississippi - Alabama

After thumping the Florida Atlantic Owls by the tune of 41-0, the Alabama Crimson Tide will return to Bryant-Denny Stadium this Saturday to tangle with the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles.

While 'Bama is listed as almost a 50-point favorite, we can officially proclaim that Southern Mississippi is not the same team that your older brother grew up watching.

Expect the contest with USM to play out in virtually the same fashion as the game with FAU did just one week ago. Rotating quarterbacks and a clearing of the bench will likely be the rule of the day once kickoff strikes at 5 p.m. central time.

Betting Line: Alabama -48 (as of 9/10)

-Click HERE to track the line-

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

USM, under head coach Larry Fedora, concluded the 2011 season with a record of 12-2. All was right with the world.

And then the record stopped...

Fedora, quite the hot name in coaching at the time, departed for North Carolina and Southern Mississippi would embark on a downward spiral of epic proportions.

Ellis Johnson, the current defensive coordinator at Auburn, took over the USM program in 2012 as Fedora's replacement. Johnson led the Golden Eagles to an 0-12 season. 12-2 to 0-12. Almost seems impossible.

When Johnson was fired at the end of the season, Todd Monken, USM's current head coach, took over the program. Posting a record of 1-11 in 2013, the Golden Eagles were losers of 23 consecutive games before defeating UAB to end the 2013 season. USM was only four quarters away from having back-to-back winless seasons.

Again...these aren't your older brother's USM Golden Eagles.

As for the present, Southern Miss will enter Tuscaloosa with a record of 1-1. After losing to Mississippi State by the score of 49-0 in the season opener, the Golden Eagles rebounded in week two and held off Alcorn State 26-20.

The quest for positivity is currently a struggle in Hattiesburg when it comes to the USM football program. Whatever Larry Fedora discovered at Southern Miss when he led the Golden Eagles to a 12-2 season, he took it with him when he left.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama showed moderate improvement from week one to week two, but the level of competition likely played a major role in that observation.

In respect to this Saturday, as noted in the introduction, expect the Crimson Tide to essentially pick up where they left off against Florida Atlantic. Think of Saturday's game as the fifth quarter of the FAU contest.

Expect Blake Sims and Jake Coker to see ample time at the quarterback position and also look for younger players to see significant minutes in an effort to season the squad as a whole. A little spice never hurt a thing and bland teams don't win big games.

Speaking of big games, the Crimson Tide will tangle with Florida the week following the contest with USM, so this Saturday is the final opportunity to break out the ironing board and get rid of the wrinkles.

Game nuggets

-While wide receiver DeAndrew White (shoulder) did return to practice this week, Nick Saban informed the media, via Wednesday's SEC teleconference, that White will not play against Southern Mississippi.

-After exiting the contest with Florida Atlantic due to a bruised ankle, wide receiver Christion Jones should be ready for action this weekend against USM.


As mentioned above, Alabama's contest with Southern Mississippi is essentially the fifth quarter of the Florida Atlantic game.

Expect the Tide to control the contest while working on the basic fundamentals that will become so very important once conference season begins Sept. 20.

USM receives a check and Alabama improves to 3-0.

--- Alabama 56 Southern Mississippi 7 ---


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Alabama defeats Florida Atlantic in weather-shortened game

While the game was called with 7:53 remaining, the competition on the field was actually over by the end of the first quarter.

Courtesy of 400-plus yards through the air and a stingy defense, the Alabama Crimson Tide rolled the Florida Atlantic Owls by the score of 41-0.

-Click HERE for complete stats-

Sims and Coker

While Blake Sims once again looked sharp and confident at the quarterback position, Jake Coker looked rather lukewarm in his first game while playing significant minutes.

As has been noted on countless occasions, although Coker looks the part of a potent quarterback and probably has more talent than Sims, Coker's outing against FAU was marred by mental mistakes and a couple of time management blunders.

Sims knows the system, while Coker is a work in progress. Having said that, Coker, all things considered, had a nice afternoon in the numbers department.

Blake Sims 11/13 214 yards 2 TDs (Also rushed for a TD)
Jake Coker 15/24 202 yards 1 TD

Cooper shines again

For the second consecutive week, Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper had an all-world performance. After catching a total of 12 passes for 130 yards against West Virginia, Cooper snagged 13 receptions for 189 yards and one touchdown against FAU.

Eddie Jackson is back

Barring injury, defensive back Bradley Sylve will likely never play another significant minute for the Crimson Tide this season.

Why? Enter Eddie Jackson...

The star sophomore, who didn't see the field against West Virginia, took over the starting role against FAU and didn't disappoint. Jackson had a solid outing in respect to pass coverage while lowing the boom on several Florida Atlantic receivers and running backs.

Jackson, who tore his ACL in early April, appears to be the new starting corner for the long run, opposite Cyrus Jones.

Nick Saban's postgame presser

Tide coach Nick Saban shares his thoughts following Alabama's victory over Florida Atlantic.

Looking ahead

Next Saturday Alabama will tangle with Southern Mississippi, so Tide fans will likely see more of the same in respect to significant personnel rotations.

When it comes to the quarterback battle, Saban and company will likely play Coker and Sims in the same fashion they did against FAU. Barring something insane, the Crimson Tide should have a handle on USM by the second quarter...if not sooner.

While the competition, in respect to FAU, wasn't very stiff, Alabama looked much better from a fundamental standpoint. As noted in the game preview, Alabama biggest competition would be Alabama, and that was exactly the case.

Continued growth and maturity will be critical for the Tide as conference play begins in two weeks with a home clash against Florida.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Game Preview: Florida Atlantic - Alabama

After defeating the West Virginia Mountaineers in week one of the college football season, the Alabama Crimson Tide will face the Florida Atlantic Owls this Saturday to open the home campaign.

While the contest with FAU is nothing more than an easy win for the Tide and a cash grab for the Owls, both squads will use the game to develop players as well as teach fundamentals.

In respect to Alabama, the glorified scrimmage against Florida Atlantic will be a great opportunity for Nick Saban to rotate a plethora of talent while getting a read on the Tide's issues in the secondary.

The game will also serve as a way to truly evaluate the quarterback situation, as Jake Coker will likely see significant playing time against FAU.

Betting Line: Alabama -40 (as of 9/3)

-Click HERE to track the line-

Florida Atlantic Owls

Falling to Nebraska by the score of 55-7 in week one of the season, the Owls gave up a grand total of 784 yards to the Cornhuskers. 286 yards through the air and 498 on the ground. Ugly.

As noted above, the contest with Alabama is a game FAU simply can't win, but that's okay. The Owls, who reside in the Conference USA, are simply looking to clash with a few big boys in an effort to get a few big checks. Its a cycle that was set in motion many, many moons ago.

Nothing against FAU, but truth be told, especially after being thumped by Nebraska, if FAU can hang with Alabama, even for a quarter, that will tell more about Alabama's deficiencies than FAU's ability.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Who's the quarterback? Who are the defensive backs?

Those are the two most glaring questions entering Saturday's contest, and hopefully, at least in some measure, both issues will have a clearer resolution by the time the final horn sounds.

While Blake Sims played every meaningful snap against West Virginia, Jake Coker will get his time in the sun against FAU. What will happen is a mystery, but his time will be granted, we can all rest assured on that one.

In respect to the defensive situation within the secondary, that question won't be so easily answered.

Or will it...

Bradley Sylve looked awful against West Virginia, so expect Eddie Jackson to play and perhaps start against Florida Atlantic. Crimson Tide defensive backs being out of position was arguably the biggest (negative) story exiting the Georgia Dome.

Expect Alabama to play a ton of players against FAU, so the right combination, in respect to the Tide cornerbacks, could be discovered this weekend even though the opposition won't be SEC caliber.

Game nuggets

-Wide receiver DeAndrew White will be out at least two weeks due to a separated shoulder.

-Safety Jarrick Williams will be out at least four weeks after sustaining a fractured foot which required surgery.

-Brandon Greene, at least for this week, has been moved from the offensive line to tight end. Greene was moved to tight end last season before returning to the o-line this spring.

-As noted above, Eddie Jackson has replaced Bradley Sylve in the starting rotation. Jackson has worked opposite Cyrus Jones all week, while Sylve has been demoted to the second team.

-Trey DePriest will make his season debut this weekend against Florida Atlantic after being suspended for the season opener by the NCAA.


Better overall fundamentals from the Crimson Tide is the prediction. Alabama can play like garbage and still win by three touchdowns, but Nick Saban wants to see improvement and hopefully UA will meet the challenge.

Playing to the standard will be Alabama's opponent this weekend, not FAU.

--- Alabama 56 Florida Atlantic 7 ---

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