"I feel like he's one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the country, said middle linebacker Dont'a Hightower. "Sometimes we get the play in a little late, and he sees the signals and he calls the defense for me. He gets the front set up so I don't have to set those guys up, then turn around with the secondary and everything." Now a fifth-year senior, Chapman as much as anyone is familiar with his role. He primarily plays on first and second down, and often has to deal with both the opposing center and a guard on the same play. It makes for some tough afternoons, but the role -- when performed well -- creates an easier opportunity for the Crimson Tide's linebackers to make tackles. "Josh is a really, really a strong player. He's very explosive, very powerful," said UA coach Nick Saban. "We have always worked to get him to be able to -- he has great initial quickness -- but to be able to run and finish and make plays in space. But for what we do, he does a fantastic job and has gotten better and better at it."
Chance Warmack is a second-year starter at left guard for the Tide this season. Two years ago, he was a true freshman. "Coming in as a freshman, I'd just turned 18 and I didn't know what was going on," Warmack said. "For us to win the national championship straight out in my first year, it taught me the qualities it takes to be great." Warmack and 25 of his 2011 teammates dressed but didn't play against Texas. Still, just being there then will help now. "Most of us were on the sidelines when we won it, so it's our time to get it," Warmack said. "I keep preaching that throughout our team. Other guys do it, too. I feel we already know what to do."
The team continued to work primarily on "LSU versus LSU," as the coach put it, practicing for the sake of self-improvement, rather than working on a game plan geared toward the Crimson Tide. Asked if there were a certain day when the Tigers begin game-week-style practices, with Alabama specifically in mind, Miles said: "No. I think we'll probably have some pieces of every practice (that are) good versus good, just for kind of the speed of the game."
Players know what makes LSU dangerous isn’t what they do, it’s how they do it. "The easiest teams to watch film on is power teams like LSU and Tennessee," Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower said before the Christmas break. "It’s not so much like those guys are trying to trick you – like Auburn or the other teams – those guys are smashmouth football teams. "They give you certain keys … which guy is in the backfield and what they like to run. It’s more or less about us going out and executing a game plan. I don’t think the game plan is going to change too much, but we haven’t even started on that yet."
Alabama players really didn’t have the layoff they expected. With the SEC championship game out of reach, the Crimson Tide didn’t expect to hit the grind so early. But that’s exactly what happened. The Tide started conditioning and training immediately after the Auburn game, senior center William Vlachos said. "We haven’t really stopped," Vlachos said. "Usually, we take a week off and we run a little bit, and then a little bit more, but we jumped right into it. We’re all in good shape right now."
Sporting News took on the Christmas lull-busting task of choosing the Top 10 college football teams of the BCS era. The 2009 Crimson Tide team made the list at number 5. Other SEC members in the list are Nick Saban's 2003 LSU team, as well as the 2006 and 2008 Florida Gator teams under Urban Meyer's watchful eye.
The SEC office will announce the revamped football schedule at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The league had to rework the schedule after the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC, increase membership from 12 to 14 teams.
They are the best of the best. The players that are wanted by every program and destined to make a big impact at the college level and beyond. Rivals.com has identified the first five-star prospects for the 2013 class and is unveiling them this week. Ten prospects have been awarded five-stars but are not ranked at this time and we will profile two each day. The next player to receive the five-star spotlight is LaGrange (Ga.) Troup linebacker Reuben Foster
We're getting closer and closer to those fun high school All-American games which will showcase some of tomorrow's top college football players. The 2012 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game is scheduled for January 5 at 7:30 p.m., and will take place at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The SEC is well represented at the moment, with 27 commitments from nine SEC teams making the Under Armour rosters. Alabama and Florida lead the SEC with six commits, while Texas leads all schools with 10 commitments on the All-America list.
Alabama and LSU have already established themselves as the two best teams in the SEC. Don’t be surprised to see their success continue in the upcoming years. Alabama’s 2012 class, which currently holds 24 commitments, is ranked No. 1 in the nation by 247Sports.com. The Crimson Tide has commitments from three five-star prospects, which also leads the nation. Barton Simmons of 247Sports spoke on WNML Radio in Knoxville, TN, on Tuesday and gave credit to Alabama coach Nick Saban for the Crimson Tide’s recruiting success. "It’s phenomenal what Nick Saban has been able to do," Simmons said. "Their linebacker class this year is the best group of linebackers that I’ve ever seen in one class. The rich are getting richer in a big way there."
Yet despite recent rumors and speculation, California coach Jeff Tedford and Texas coach Mack Brown, whose teams meet in Wednesday’s Holiday Bowl, remain comfortably off the hot seat and in the driver’s seats for their programs. "I don’t think anybody wants to go through that," said Tedford, who is completing his 10th season in Berkeley. "[College football] is very challenging and competitive. And because it’s competitive and you’re dealing with 17- to 23-year-old kids, things are up and down. You do your best to stay on top. Good coaches typically land on their feet. But it’s not pretty."