Florida players know they squandered chances to earn a higher seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. That will make the path more difficult when the fourth-seeded Gators open tournament play Friday in the quarterfinals against Alabama. The Crimson Tide advanced with a 63-57 win over South Carolina on Thursday. "We're playing for pride, respect," Florida junior guard Kenny Boynton said. "We let a few get away from us. "As a team you should come out ready to play no matter who you are playing, so I think we definitely need to use this tournament as a focus and a practice for the NCAA Tournament, because I know we are going to be in some tough games."
Rising senior linebacker Nico Johnson said the parallels between that post-championship spring and this one ended in January. "Going through that and having the majority of the players who played on that team coming back, we have better leadership than we had that year," he said. "Just going through that (10-3 season) and being a leader next year, I’m going to try to tell everyone else we have to stay on our stuff, no matter what."
The University of Alabama gets spring football practice under way today, but it will still be a couple of weeks before there is a chance for any real progress to be made. For the second year in a row, the Crimson Tide will hold its first practice just before spring break, and resume with a second practice on March 19. UA coach Nick Saban said the scheduling quirk presents the best of three options. "I like to space out spring practices, and not have (practices) multiple days in a row ... You don't have as good a teaching time, the players don't have the recovery time," Saban said. "But when Easter falls in spring ball, we usually don't practice Saturday, so we have an extra practice. We have three options. We can have a practice before (spring break), we can have a practice after A-Day, or we can practice three days in a row somewhere. We've done it all three ways."
Alabama kickoff man Cade Foster comes off a season in which he struggled as UA's choice for long field goal tries (2 of 9 with all attempts from 40 yards and beyond). Foster also handled kickoffs for UA, averaging 63 yards with five touchbacks on 81 attempts. The new NCAA kickoff rule that moves the kickoff spot up five yards to the 35 should help Foster pick up a few more touchbacks. Punter Cody Mandell returns as well, having averaged 39.3 yards per try last year on 39 punts. Short field goal kicker Jeremy Shelley, who was 18 of 20 from inside 40 yards last year, is also back for UA. Shelley got a few longer field goal tries in the Foster range last year, but didn't have much success. Spring drills will be a good chance for Shelley to test his range more.
S Vinnie Sunseri
2011 season: Played in all 13 games, racking up 31 tackles and a fumble recovery.
What he was asked to do a season ago: Quickly established himself as a special teams standout before ending the season as UA's No. 3 safety.
What he'll be asked to do in 2012: It's a given Sunseri will have role in the secondary, it's just a matter of how the true sophomore will be used. At a minimum, expect Sunseri to be a part of the Crimson Tide's sub packages, either at safety or money in the dime look.
Alabama: Why does it feel like 2010 all over again? Because it is -- only without the six-game gauntlet of SEC opponents coming off bye weeks. After Alabama won the 2009 national title, the Crimson Tide had to replace nine defensive starters. After Alabama won the 2011 national title, the Crimson Tide have to replace seven defensive starters. This includes both cornerbacks, two linebackers and the all-important nose tackle.
The top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide softball team (18-0) looks to keep its perfect season going into conference play this weekend as it travels to Lexington, Ky., to face off against the Kentucky Wildcats (10-8) in a three game series at the UK Softball Complex. The teams will face off at 5 p.m. CT, on Friday evening and then at noon on Saturday and Sunday to complete the series.
The No. 1-ranked University of Alabama softball team arrives in Lexington, Ky., today to begin a two-month, 28-game odyssey in defense of its back-to-back Southeastern Conference championships. The Crimson Tide, as it has every season since SEC softball play began in 1997, will play each team in the league at least twice. While the conference will expand next season with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, the league schedule will contract. The Tuscaloosa News has learned that the SEC will cut back to a 24-game league schedule in 2013, with each school playing only eight of the 12 other teams in the SEC. Leslie Claybrook, SEC assistant commissioner, worked with coaches and administrators to create the new format. The 2013 league schedule will be given to coaches today.
"I think he’s a Top 10 talent," Mayock said of Richardson. "That doesn’t mean that I endorse taking him with a Top 10 pick. I have a problem with running backs, and the history of running backs in the last 6-7 years in this league, justifying a pick that high. The last Top 10 pick for a running back that has paid off in my opinion has been Adrian Peterson, who went No. 7 to the Vikings." "As talented as Trent Richardson is — and I believe he is, I believe he is a Top 10 talent in this draft, I’m not convinced he’s going in the Top 10," Mayock said.
On Nov. 6, 1869 Rutgers and Princeton faced off on College Field in New Brunswick, NJ for a game that would be immortalized as the first intercollegiate football contest ever held. Hearing the hullabaloo after one of the scores an anonymous Rutgers professor waved his umbrella at the participants and shrieked, "You will come to no Christian end!" Thus, from the very start, football found itself beset by critics in the face of its overwhelming popularity. Of course, the sport and those involved in it certainly did their level best to warrant such complaints as the rapid growth of the game begat a multitude of excesses that continues unceasingly to this very day.
The most recent wave of conference realignment saw the SEC add two new teams beginning this past fall: Texas A&M and Missouri. For Missouri, they will get their first taste of SEC action this weekend. The No. 4 Alabama gymnastics team will welcome the No. 14 Tigers to Coleman Coliseum this weekend, and while it’s not officially an SEC meet, it will mark the first time the Tide and Tigers have squared off in any sport since the addition was announced. "I know they’re really excited to come down and experience the magic of Coleman Coliseum," junior Ashley Sledge said. "I’m sure they’re going to come down here ready to do their jobs as much as we want to do ours." While the Tigers were added to the SEC with football and men’s basketball in mind, Missouri brings in a strong team on the gymnastics front – adding to the already impressive list of gymnastics teams in the conference. "It gives us another strong team," head coach Sarah Patterson said. "It just makes our conference stronger."