Thursday, August 14, 2008

Alabama Football: Tide to be Riding High in 2008

With kick-off the the 2008 season just two weeks away the major question is, will things be better in Saban's second year? Let's take a look at the upcoming season:

-Aug. 30 Clemson (at Atlanta): Clemson will be ranked in the top 10 coming into this with hopes of a BCS title game. The only plus is this game is in Atlanta, and Bama fans will travel. Early test for John Parker and company; expect a struggle for the offense against a strong Tiger defense. Clemson 24-17

-Sept. 6 Tulane: Nothing like a middle of the road C-USA team to work the kinks out of a new offense. Alabama 31-7

-Sept. 13 Western Kentucky: Back-to-back cupcakes to warm-up for a brutal road trip should serve the Tide well. Alabama 34-14

-Sept. 20 @Arkansas: Welcome back to the SEC, Bobby Petrino. This won't be D-Macs Razorbacks, but Fayetteville is always a tough place to play. Still, the offense should be hitting on all cylinders. Alabama 20-14

-Sept. 27 @ Georgia: The Bulldogs will be number one in the country and Knowshon Moreno should be making a Heisman run. To put it lightly, this will be a tough test for a young defense. Still, Bama plays up to its opponents, and Mark Richt teams are known to slip up at least one game per season. So, it expect a close one between the hedges. Georgia 26-20

-Oct. 4 Kentucky: Rich Brooks has Kentucky on the right track, but with the loss of Andre Woodson do not expect another 8-5 run by the Wildcats. After two tough road games the Tide will be happy to be back in front of the home crowd. Alabama 27-10

-Oct. 18 Ole Miss: The "Right-Reverend" Houston Nutt takes over the Rebels, and maybe he can get Colonel Reb to stop crying. A solid defense finally gets a SEC caliber QB in Texas transfer Jevon Snead, but the Rebels are still a year or two from competing in the very strong SEC west. Alabama 21-17

-Oct. 25 @Tennessee: Another tough SEC road game, but the Vols will be breaking in a new quarterback and a new offense. Still Alabama has only one win (2002) in Neyland since 1994. Tennessee 21-17

- Nov. 1 Arkansas State (Homecoming): lets hope the Tide show up to play this year, coming off last years let down against La. Monroe. Should be a good game for the backups and freshman to get some experience. Alabama 38-10

-Nov. 8 @LSU: Do you think this game is circled on Les Miles calendar? Nick Saban returns to Baton Rouge for the first time since raising the crystal football in 2003. Will Ryan Perrilloux still be under center for the Tigers? Will the "process" finally come full circle with a Saban shocker? Alabama 23-20

-Nov. 15 Mississippi State: Will the Tide end the two game skid against the fighting Crooms? This game will be better than most think but the Tide will not look past the Bulldogs for a third year in a row. Alabama 27-17

-Nov. 29 Auburn: There are six-year-old Bama fans that don't know what it's like to beat Auburn. The last time "Rammer Jammer" rained down on the Auburn faithful was in 2002. Well, fire up the band cause there will not be a louder place than Bryant-Denny stadium that November night. John Parker and this senior class will put their stamp in the Bama record books. Alabama 27-20

The Tide will end the 2008 season 9-3, vastly improved from Saban's first season. With tough road games, and if the injury bug bites, the lack of depth will show. So it could be worse. However, with a senior quarterback and Saban having one more year to shape the program, expect the Tide to be riding high in 2008.

Saban named "Most Powerful Coach"

With his 32$ million contract, and overseeing one of the nations top programs, Saban has the power at the University of Alabama.

The Sept. 1 issue of Forbes Magazine thinks so to.
"Nobody plays the college football business like Alabama's $32 million man,"
the cover reads. "Is he worth it?"

Saban is the first coach to grace the cover of the magazine since it was created in 1917.

The issue, which hits stands Friday morning, argues Sabans control over the Alabama program, his 32$ million eight-year contract, and Saban's positive influence on the students who apply to the University of Alabama has made him the most powerful coach in sports.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Alabama Football: Notes from Two-A-Days.

With two-a-days starting and the nights getting cooler kick-off is just around the corner for the Tide here are a few links and notes from practice so far:

  • It seems in year two of the Saban era the players are taking more responsibility and getting on board with coach and his philosophy.

  • There is a lot of talk about this years freshman class and who will play. Mark Barron the safety out of St. Paul's in Mobile has the size and the speed to be a starting safety in the sec. Julio Jones, B.J. Scott, and Tyler Love are getting more reps in practice with the first and second teams.

  • Saban is looking for leadership to lead the younger players. He mentioned many of the upperclassmen like John Parker Wilson, Rolando McClain, and many of the offensive line, "We certainly could use their leadership and experience" Saban said.

  • Greg McElroy is having a really good camp, the sophomore was 9 of 18 for 146 yards in Saturday's scrimmage. He seems to have the second quarterback spot locked up.

  • One of the Alabama's main concerns will be depth at linebacker but in the scrimmage Saturday Rolando McClain had five tackles and one interception. Mountain Brook's Charlie Higgenbotham led all players in tackles with eight.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Five reasons why Alabama will win the SEC West

Yeah that's right Bama fans you read that right Alabama and Nick Saban's "process" will win the Sec West in 2008. Here are five reasons why Alabama will be in Atlanta come December:

  1. A Senior Quarterback- John Parker Wilson enters his senior season with the chance to become one of the most prolific passers in school history. This will be John Parker Wilson's third year as a starter for the Tide. In 2007 his passer rating was 114.6, completing 255 of 462 passes for 2,846 yards, 18 touchdowns (a school record), and 12 interceptions. Costly turnovers and poor play in big games is what most fans remember but in 2008 JPW will thrive under new offensive coordinator Jim McElwain.

  2. Senior Leadership- With Rashad Johnson, Antoine Caldwell, John Parker Wilson, and Andre Smith(he is a junior) this team has a strong core of leaders who want to bring Bama back to the top. These guys set a strong example for the underclassmen to follow from work in the weight room to in the classroom.

  3. Freshman play makers- Freshman can make a difference on a team. Julio Jones, B.J. Scott, Jerrell Harris, and Terrence Cody (JUCO transfer) will be asked to make an impact on this team. They will bring youth, energy, and play making skills to this team. Julio was one of the top recruits coming out of Foley last year and wide-out is a position that the Tide needs players immediately.

  4. The schedule - The Tide will play Clemson in the first game in Atlanta. Clemson comes in with all the pressure being a pre-season top Ten team. Arkansas lost a ton of talent and who knows how they will adjust to Bobby Petrino. When they travel to Athens to play Georgia the Bulldogs will have just finished playing Arizona State out on the West coast look for the Dawgs to have tired legs. Ole Miss will be better this year and that game always comes down to the last play. Going to Tennessee is always tough and Saban going back to Baton Rouge won't be easy but with a question mark at quarterback for the Tigers look for Saban to shut the rowdy crowd up fast. The season ends with the Iron Bowl and the seniors want more than anything to end Auburn's streak. This game will decide the West champion and Alabama will not lose number seven to the Tigers.

  5. Nick Saban- Love him or hate him you know he wins. When Nick was at LSU he took them to Atlanta in his second year. The players now know what to expect from Saban and with another year in his conditioning program the Tide will not fade down the stretch like last year. Saban wants to bring Alabama back and prove all his doubters wrong.

Julio and others Big Hit at Fan-Day

Fans endured the heat at fan day to get a look at Alabama's number one recruiting class, Julio Jones and others did not disappoint. Jones had a few touchdown grabs on 7-on-7 drills, beating starting corner Javier Arenas on one of them.

"They have shown on film in high school that they can play the part. So far, in 48 hours, we haven't been disappointed" said defensive head coach Kevin Steele about the freshman first two practices.

It still is not clear who will be on the first team when the season kicks-off Aug.30 against Clemson but expect Jones, B.J. Scott, and Jerrell Harris to contribute if not start.
Many of the fans stayed after practice to get autographs from their favorite players and head coach Nick Saban.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Georgia is Top Dawg in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Georgia is number one in the first coaches poll released today.

"Being number one in the coaches pre-season poll does have significance since it's one-third of the formula to decide who plays in the national championship game," UGA coach Mark Richt said. USC was number two followed by Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Florida round out the top five. Alabama did not make it, just missing at 26. The SEC had three in the top 10 with Florida at five and LSU at six.

1. Georgia (22) 2. Southern California (14) 3. Ohio State (14) 4. Oklahoma (3) 5. Florida (5) 6. LSU (3) 7. Missouri 8. West Virginia 9. Clemson 10. Texas 11. Auburn 12. Wisconsin 13. Kansas 14. Texas Tech 15. Virginia Tech 16. Arizona State 17. Brigham Young 18. Tennessee 19. Illinois 20. Oregon 21. South Florida 22. Penn State 23. Wake Forest 24. Michigan 25. Fresno State

A few links and notes before practice starts today.

Alabama opens practice today with veterans going at 3 p.m. and the freshman at 7:30 p.m.

Fan Day is set for Sunday festivities start at 1:30 p.m. with practice at 2:30 and a autograph session to follow.

Reserve offensive lineman Patrick Crump of Hoover High left the team due to "personal reasons," Saban said.

Senior wide receiver Will Oakley will not practice today because he is still recovering from a stress fracture in his foot.

Linebacker Prince Hall will be suspend for the first three games the season.

Alabama has released the fall roster for 2008 you can view it here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Alabama claimed its 12th verbal commitment in-state defensive lineman

Anthony Orr (6-foot-4, 250 pounds) became the Tides 12th commitment when he choose Alabama over Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Central Florida. "I've known for a while that I wanted to go there," Orr said. "I made this decision because they're headed in a good direction, trying to win a national championship. Orr becomes the fourth player to commit to the Tide since July 22.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Alabama Football: Rolando McClain Leads Tide Defense

At the end of the 2007 season, the linebacker position didn't appear to have any issues.
Only two starters needed to be replaced.
Then Ezekial Knight went down with a heart ailment, making him a question mark for the 2008 season.
Prince Hall was then suspended in the spring for a violation of team rules.
If these two were not enough of a loss, the newest addition to the linebacker unit, former running back Jimmy Johns, was arrested for selling cocaine.
Now Alabama has only one starter returning—sophomore Rolando McClain.
McClain started in nine of the team’s 13 games in his initial collegiate season.
He became the first true freshman since Saleem Rasheed in 1999 to start the season opener at the linebacker spot.
He showed he was more than capable of playing linebacker in the SEC by making 15 tackles in the regular season finale at Auburn and picking off a pass in the second quarter, the first interception of his career.
McClain finished 2007 with 75 tackles and one sack and was named to the 2007 Freshman All-American team.
For the Crimson Tide to be successful in 2008, McClain will have to avoid the "sophomore slump" and lead this defense.

Five Tide Players Named to Preseason All-SEC Squad

The University of Alabama had five players named to the 2008 Southeastern Conference Media Days preseason All-SEC Team. Junior tackle Andre Smith and senior defensive back Rashad Johnson were first-team picks. While senior center Antoine Caldwell, sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain and junior return specialist Javier Arenas were all second team picks. All five players were named to the 2008 Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team earlier this week. Smith and Caldwell lead what some experts believe to be the best offense line in the SEC. Johnson led the Tide a year ago with 94 tackles and six interceptions from his free safety position. McClain was named to the SEC Coaches Freshman All-SEC Team in 2007 while registering 75 tackles with five tackles for loss and two interceptions. Javier finished second in the SEC last season in punt returns with a 15.4 yard per return average.

Fall practice begins Aug. 1st and the season kicks-off Aug. 30 against Clemson in Atlanta.

Alabama Recruiting Notebook

Nick Saban picked up his first commitment from Mississippi in safety Rod Woodson. A 5-foot-11, 200-pound safety he has the reputation as a big-time hitter, "I like hitting," he told The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss. Rivals rates Woodson a three-star prospect and the No. 13 prospect in Mississippi. He reportedly had scholarship offers from a number of SEC programs, including Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Woodson becomes the 11th commitment to the 2009 class. Alabama also picked up Defensive end William Ming of Athens High and Gerald West a defensive back from Mobile.

Sec Media Days: Day Three

It's the final day of this circus that is sec media days here are some of the highlights:

Coach Rich Brooks thinks highly of his defense and well he should Defensive end Jeremy Jarmon is already an All-SEC player after finishing ninth in the league with nine sacks last season. Corner back Trevard Lindley is in that group, too. Coach Brooks said, " I think that this now has a chance to be clearly the best defensive team that I've had, and we need that to happen this year if we want to be viable because the best teams in the league have great defenses.

Coach Brooks has built this Kentucky program into something to talk about. "It was an interesting year last year," Brooks said of the 8-5 season last year that ended with a win over Florida State in the Music City Bowl. "We were on the verge of becoming a viable team last year, and I believe we will be a viable team this year."

Brooks also addressed the situation with UK's head coach in waiting, Joker Phillips. Brooks said he had no time table to retire, but wanted the arrangement in place for when he decides to hang it up.

Tommy Tuberville said Kodi Burns would start for the Tigers at quarterback if the season started today. But Tuberville will give it 10 days of pratice to settle on a starter. Juco transfer Chris Todd was on the bench for spring ball but when asked Tuberville said "He's ready to go now, so we're going to have good competition."

"We have an opponent in this state that we work every day, 365 days a year, to dominate." That is the quote by Nick Saban that is postered on the Auburn weight room wall.

Auburn sophomore linebacker Bo Harris plans to transfer and won't play this season for the Tigers. He was one of the favorites to start at strong-side linebacker, but was declared academically ineligible for this season and plans to go to juco or a smaller school.
Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin and defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads were the 10th and 11th different coordinators Tuberville has hired since taking the job at Auburn in 1999.
Auburn was chosen by the media as the favorite to win the SEC West. They also had nine players selected to the All-SEC Team.

South Carolina
Steve Spurrier knows what it is like to leave the NFL and he had this to say about new Arkansas coach Bobby petrino, "Yeah, I told Bobby when he took the job, I said, 'I'm going to give you two years. ... I'll give you two years and you'll come back to college."

Last year at this thing Spurrier said his Gamecock's are "ready compete" for the sec east crown. This year he after a 6-6 finish he said he was " dead wrong." Things change that fast in the SEC.

Jasper Brinkley, one of the better linebackers in the SEC before he blew out his knee, is back to 100 percent. When asked if he is ready for fall practice Brinkley said, "It's going to be like having a dog on a chain and letting him go into a dogfight or something like that."

All the talk was about Bobby Petrino and how he left the Atlanta job.
"The whole situation. . . .the timing was bad. There's no question about that," said Petrino, who left notes on the lockers of the Falcons' players to tell them he was leaving.

It will be hard for the Hogs to replace the top two running backs in school history in Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Casey Dick will have to step up and play better than he did last year going 1,695 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Alabama Football: Saban at SEC Media Days

It's just not SEC media days until Nick Saban shows up. Over 900 members of the media and hundreds of Crimson Tide fans packed into the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Al to hear the coach speak.
Saban spoke to the media on a number of topics, including:
On Les Miles comments - that Alabama hadn't fared so well against Louisiana teams:
"He told the truth" Saban said, "We need to earn the respect we get."
On this years senior class:
"There are only nine," Saban said, "but it's up to them to create the direction for the younger players."
On what he expects from this years incoming freshman and how many will play:
"It's up to them," he said. "They create the expectations. Before this, they had tremendous expectations because of recruiting services. But it's up to them. We'll have some on offense, as many as five or six on defense with the linebackers and the secondary."
On the off-field issues he has faced at Alabama:
"We're never pleased when an individual embarrasses the organization. When one fails -- or we fail them -- everyone knows about it. But what you don't see is the 25 other guys who have done a great job of improving their chances of being successful. We have many players who have made significant progress."
On playing more big non- conference games:
"I know there has been some speculation about us playing Virginia Tech next year, But we're having difficulty with our schedule getting that worked out. But philosophically, we'd like to play one (major) non-conference game each year."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

SEC Media Days: Day Two


Mark Richt knows the expectations for this years team, "Every year we set goals. We want to win that first game, then the East to get to the SEC Championship Game, and then maybe we can go to the National Championship Game. " He says you can not look to far ahead or you may slip up.
Looking back to last years Florida game Richt apologized for the way the Bulldogs' celebration after the first touchdown against Florida last season went down. He said he was "in shock" to see the whole team run out on the field to celebrate. Circle you calender for Nov. 1, the day the Bulldogs and the Gators meet in Jacksonville.
Many players including Jeff Owens do think that the celebration against Florida was "the turning point" for the Bulldogs.
Was Mark Richt taking a dig at LSU when he said, "if you lose two games, you don't deserve to play for the National Championship." Richt also brought up playoff saying "four teams will work nice."
How far do you think Matthew Staford can throw the ball? Running back Mohammed Massaquoi said,"He could probably throw it here if you want him to."


When asked about Les Miles comments about the Tide loss last season to Louisiana- Monroe Saban had this to say, "Well, he told the truth. He told it like it was. We need to ear the respect. That's what we're trying to do."
Although not asked directly about the many off the field issues Saban as had at Alabama he had many good things to say about the team so far. "We have 25-30 guys that are doing extremely well in the program, have made a lot of personal choices that have enhanced their chances of being successful in the future."
Many of the upperclassmen have good things to say about the number one recruiting class so far. When asked if anyone of them as stood out, enior center Antoine Caldwell said Julio Jones, if I had to put my money on anybody, he's one who has stood out," "He's done a great job so far, but you never know until they put the pads on. Right now, this whole freshmen class we got has us really excited about what's coming."
Alabama is working on a deal to play Virgina Tech in 2009, Saban said "But we're having difficulty with our schedule getting that worked out. But philosophically, we'd like to play one (major) non conference game each year."

Ole Miss

New Head coach Houston Nutt is "re-energized" and "refreshed" from his move from Arkansas to Ole Miss.
Nutt should be set at quarterback with Texas transfer Jevan Snead. Nutt calls him a "great decision maker" and said he is a leader on the team.
With four straight losing seasons Nutt will have his work cut out for him, but he says he is looking for a "very successful year." He has worked hard to change the attitude in Oxford. Showing up at players homes to create a more family environment.


Attorneys from the Blankenship, Harrelson & Wollitz law firm stole the show when they issued Phillip Fulmer with a subpoena. When asked Fulmer said,
"A couple of guys have asked me about that, and I haven't seen anything like that, We spent ... what was it three or four years ago ... putting up with all that B.S. that had nothing to do with football and the Southeastern Conference. Darned if I'm going to start it again if I don't have to, so somebody's just screwing around."
Fulmer knows the SEC is a tough conference and had this to say of his teams success, "I'm about tired of going to the SEC championship and not winning it."
Fulmer is the longest tenured coach in the sec going on his 17th season. He says the "on-field success"of his teams is the reason he as been around so long.
Running back Arian Foster is the Vols main weapon but quarterback Jonathan Crompton should help take some of the pressure off the stud back.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

SEC Media Days: Day One

Tim Tebow stole the show in Hoover, Al for day one of SEC media days.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner vowed to play smarter in 2008, "I'm always looking to change and get better," said Tebow.
Tebow carried the ball 210 times last season, an astonishing number of carries for a quarterback.
"Maybe it's not a good decision to hit somebody and fight for 2 more yards. Maybe I should just get down. I didn't say, 'Slide.' I said, 'Get down,' or maybe just step out of bounds.
He got banged up a little to, injuring is shoulder prior to the Georgia game last season.

Meyer has big ideas on to you use Percy Harvin, "Part of you says to line him up at tailback and let him go. I think he would be one of the best tailbacks in the country. Handing him the ball will be a big part of our offense."

Mississippi State
Wesley Carroll clearly has Croom's trust, Croom brought the sophomore to SEC Media Days when most coaches bring seniors.

Carroll was forced into action last season as a true freshman and led the Bulldogs to a 8-5 season and a Liberty Bowl win. Look for Mississippi State to open up the offense and expanded his role this season, "I expect a lot more from myself and from my teammates just because we've all had a year going into the season," Carroll said.
Bobby Johnson is entering his seventh season as the Vanderbilt head coach, that makes him the longest tenure coach at Vandy in over 20 years.

2009 could be the year the Commodores' make the post-season, "I think we were extremely close last year. A couple games go either way, and we're in a bowl." Johnson said
LSU coach Les Miles wasn't giving up anything about his quarterback situation. Andrew Hatch, a transfer from Harvard, looks to be the front runner. Miles said, "The most consistent performer" will win the job.

"The state of Louisiana has 12 colleges that play football. If Alabama played those 12 as a schedule in the season, what do you think their record would be?" That was the question posed to Les Miles referring to his past comments about Louisiana teams beating Alabama. He did not have the same response this time around saying, "I want you to know something: I have great respect for the University of Alabama, the history they have presented to college football, the competition that they put on every time they take the field."

Day Two Preview
Things will get started with the home town Alabama Crimson Tide and head coach Nick Saban taking the podium. Georgia, Ole Miss, and Tennessee will be there to.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Alabama Football: The Legacy of John Parker Wilson

John Parker Wilson came to The University of Alabama after a very decorated career at Hoover High School.
He led the Bucs to a state title as a junior, passing for 2,800 yards and 27 TDs with just 10 interceptions.
In 2003 Wilson was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Alabama and was named to the 2003 Parade All-American team.
His career at Alabama as been one of many highs and plenty of lows.
For every great performance against Tennessee, there is a game-breaking mistake against Mississippi State and Louisiana-Monroe.
He owns the top two spots in Alabama school history for both passing yards in a season and touchdowns in a season.
But for some reason he has still not solidified himself as a top quarterback in the SEC.
He signed with the Tide in 2005 and saw action in four games, completing a pass in each appearance.
In 2006 he started all 12 games for the Tide. He threw for 200-plus yards in the first seven games, setting a school record, and finished that season with nine 200-yard games.
One of his best performances came against Arkansas, completing 80 percent of his passes for 243 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.
He came under fire for his play in the Mississippi State game though, throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns in a loss to the Bulldogs.
In 2007 his passer rating was 114.6, completing 255 of 462 passes for 2,846 yards, 18 touchdowns (a school record), and 12 interceptions.
He played near perfect in a thrashing of archrival Tennessee, completing 32 of 46 passing attempts for 363 yards and three touchdowns.
But it was his costly turnovers in back-to-back loses against LSU and Mississippi State that most fans remember.
John Parker Wilson enters his senior season with the chance to become one of the most prolific passers in school history, but in yet another new offense he has not had the time to get comfortable as a starter.
He has been named to the 2008 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Watch List and should leave Alabama holding records for career passing yardage (6,382) and career TD passes (41).
As it stands right now, John Parker Wilson's legacy at the University of Alabama is one of what ifs.
If he can grasp the offense, cut out the costly turnovers, and lead the Tide back to Atlanta, he will go down as one of the better quarterbacks to don the crimson and white.