Veterans such as Jesse Williams, Damion Square, Ed Stinson and Quinton Dial will partner with young defensive linemen such as Jeoffrey Pagan, LaMichael Fanning and D.J. Pettway to carry on the defensive line's run-stopping dominance, and the potential is there to terrorize passers without a need for blitzes. "I've been really impressed with our defense, with the way we've had some guys step up," star offensive lineman Barrett Jones said. "I'm not necessarily surprised, but it's been good to see that."
Look for the Alabama offense to evolve even more under first-year coordinator Doug Nussmeier once preseason practice begins in August. One of the things Saban wants to see out of this offense is more big plays. "Doug has got some new ideas about what he wants to do. I like those ideas," Saban said. "We’ll do some of those things a little differently."
"How good is this team? I don't know," Saban said. "I think it's kind of up to this team. I think it's kind of up to a lot of players on this team, a lot of players that have opportunities that haven't played much before. "We certainly don't have the maturity as a team that we had a year ago or that we had three years ago, but there's certainly enough players on this team that we could develop into a pretty good team."
Glenn Vickery, Yeldon's coach at Daphne High (Mobile, Ala.), knew what the depth chart was and still thought his former running back was ready to contribute from the minute he got to campus. While some players take a year to gain the size and strength needed to compete in the SEC, Yeldon came game ready -- no assembly required. Yeldon is already 6-foot-2, 216 pounds and can bench press 385 pounds. "He'll play from Game One," Vickery told TideNation in January. "I think he's that kind of kid. His competitiveness is leaps and bounds more than anyone I've coached or seen. He's got too much talent from a multiple-position standpoint to not play." And judging by his performance on Saturday, Yeldon will play.
The second ranked Alabama softball team powered its way to a series sweep Sunday, blasting five home runs en route to a 19-4 win over South Carolina in front of 3,250 fans at Rhoads Stadium. The Crimson Tide improved to a school-record 40-2 on the year and 17-2 in Southeastern Conference play. South Carolina fell to 23-23 overall and 3-16 in the SEC. The 19 runs tied a season high, set against Maryland on March 2 and marked the 13th time the Tide has run-ruled its opponent and the 10th time UA has eclipsed 10 runs.
"Richardson doesn't have world class speed, much the same as Emmitt Smith didn't have world class speed, and the comparison is apt," according to Rob Rang of NFLdraftscout.com. "(Breaking tackles is) probably Richardson's most impressive trait. Often he is the one initiating the contact rather than the defenders, providing them little to target than his helmet, shoulder and knee pads. Keeps his legs driving through contact and literally runs over some opponents."
Trent Richardson, Alabama, 5-9, 228: He is one of the best prospects in the draft at any position. Richardson is a powerful, explosive runner with excellent quickness. He runs low, and his huge thighs make it difficult to bring him down. He can make tacklers miss or bowl them over, and he can break long runs too. He is a hard worker who doesn’t mind the dirty jobs. His pass protection is excellent, and he can catch. He also returns kicks.
"He's a guy we're really going to have to take a long, hard look at over the next couple of weeks to see is he a (strong-side) linebacker for us, what is his more natural position or is he more of a defensive end," Jones said. Jones, who met with all three players, spoke highly of Alabama's program. He said "you can tell (Kirkpatrick, Barron and Upshaw have) been coached up well. They said (Alabama coach) Nick (Saban) gets involved individually in coaching them and has high expectations for them."
The Patriots have to replace Mark Anderson, so Upshaw would have an immediate opportunity to start. However, if they play a 3-4, Upshaw might face a steeper learning curve because he wasn't asked to drop into coverage much at Alabama. At the very least, Upshaw would have a role as a situational pass rusher.
Barron is the best safety in a weak class of safeties -- and that's not meant as an backhanded compliment. He's the complete package -- good size, sound tackler, solid in pass coverage, instinctive, strong leader, and we could go on. One scout told me, "He's a big hitter, but he can run and cover, too." Barron is a natural strong safety, although he said he played free safety his senior year. The Jets just signed a strong safety in LaRon Landry, but that shouldn't have a big impact on Barron's draft value. The safeties are interchangeable in the Jets' scheme. He has the ability to cover tight ends, a bugaboo for the Jets, and some receivers, if necessary. He ran a 4.56 at his recent pro day -- only two months after surgery to repair a sports hernia. He has the ability and smarts to be a Day 1 starter. The Cowboys (14th) and Eagles (15th) are reportedly hot for Barron, so he may not be available for the Jets.
Kirkpatrick has very little zone experience, so he might not be a great fit for the Patriots' scheme. There are also reports that Alabama head coach Nick Saban had to work hard to keep Kirkpatrick motivated, so that's a concern. If that's the only issue, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick should be able to get the honest truth from Saban about the talented corner.
He says there were players that the coaches were scared of in the same way that some players are scared of other players. He names the same three examples as before and adds Carlos Dunlap to the list. On the point of coaches being scared of some players, Rainey says "they just good at sports, and you can't do nothing about it." He said it in a very matter of fact way, shrugging his shoulders even. I interpret that to mean that it's understood that some players will get to play no matter what happens because they're just too good to keep on the bench.
Former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino tried to sidestep University of Arkansas guidelines to quickly hire his mistress, Jessica Dorrell, as the team's player development coordinator, according to documents obtained by SI.com. The documents show that Petrino sought a waiver to circumvent a university affirmative action policy requiring that the job be posted for at least 30 days before interviews could commence. Dorrell's first interview was scheduled even before the waiver was granted by the university's Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance. According to the documents, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, the job listing for a player development coordinator to serve the football program was posted on March 4. Five days later, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long pushed along a request from Petrino and sent a memo to Danielle Wood, the school's assistant director of affirmative action, asking if interviews for the position could begin even though the job had been listed for just five days, not the required 30. "We feel that flexibility is needed," Long wrote.
Darrington Sentimore already knows what it's like competing in the Southeastern Conference. The defensive end also has experience playing in a 3-4 defense, which Tennessee is installing this spring under new coordinator Sal Sunseri. Sentimore also knows Sunseri, who coached the linebackers at Alabama the past three seasons, from his own two years at Alabama. "It's not a lot different. It's pretty much the same stuff," Sentimore said of the 3-4 scheme. "Coach Sal is a lot harder than he was at Alabama, though.