Although the 'Jack' position is technically a linebacker, it is essentially a pass-rushing role and therefore we'll include it here. Courtney Upshaw took 18 tackles for loss and half as many sacks with him to the NFL, leaving a crucial playmaking void up front. Sophomore Adrian Hubbard worked with the first unit on A-Day and has the size and range to be an effective rusher, but is short on experience. Hubbard has practiced at multiple positions, however, and can even operate in pass coverage, so he may not have his hand on the ground full-time like Upshaw did. Senior Damion Square (at right) enters his final season as the leader and most experienced member of the unit. His 32 tackles last year led all of the interior linemen on defense. At the other end, Quinton Dial and Ed Stinson figure to wage an interesting camp battle.
Autograph-hungry Alabama fans can begin lining up at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. for the Crimson Tide's annual Fan Day. Starting at 2:30 p.m., Alabama will hold an approximately two-hour practice, which will be open to the public. Fans who don't wish to watch the practice will have the opportunity to grab a good spot in line at Gate 46 starting at 1:30 p.m. The autograph session will commence immediately after the practice.
No. 1: No. 3 Alabama vs. No. 9 Michigan, Sept. 1, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
It's the defending national champs against the Big Ten favorites, who are coming off an 11-win season. The Wolverines might not have leading rusher Fitz Toussaint, as the electric junior was suspended indefinitely following a drunk driving arrest. But this game probably comes down to how disciplined the Crimson Tide's young defense -- four starters return -- plays against Michigan QB Denard Robinson. "The guy's already a fantastic athlete, so if you're not doing the right thing, you have no chance to succeed," Nick Saban said. "Even if you do it exactly right, it still may be a challenge."
2012 record? Let's say 10-2. Chalk up LSU as one, with Michigan or Arkansas the other. Those two return a lot of firepower against a defense that has a lot of missing parts, particularly in the secondary, and is a year away from 2011-type dominance.
Borges had similar success last year, when there were questions entering the season regarding how well his West Coast offense would mesh with dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson. The pairing proved to be a fruitful one, though, as Michigan culled together its best offensive season since 2003. It scored 33.3 points per game, 0.5 more than in 2010. Borges received a lot of credit for bending his offense to suit the personnel. That, along with his more youthful age, led to his name being circulated for coaching vacancies.
The facility, according to the proposal, will include a check-in desk, weight room, cardio/rehab area, strength coaches' offices, graduate assistant workrooms, nutrition bar, juice room, restrooms, medical office suite, elevator, janitor's closet and storage. It will be "housed within a structural steel supported building with a combination of architectural masonry, precast concrete, and brick veneer on CMU (Concrete Masonry Unit) back up with aluminum storefront system." A worksheet presented to the Board provided answers for why the facility needed to be built so quickly. "This project will enhance student-athlete recruitment and retention by ensuring that they are able to train with state of the art equipment following the latest training methods," the document read.
"To me, you reap what you sow," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said earlier this summer. "If you're committing violations, then you have to accept the penalties. This has been talked about for a long time. We'll see what potentially the changes could look like down the road. We all know the rules and we should all abide by them."
No 6-6, bowl-eligible ACC team has ever missed college football’s bloated postseason, a trend that’s likely to continue. As the Birmingham News’ Jon Solomon reported this week, a Big Ten proposal to elevate the minimum record for bowl qualification to 7-5 has gained little traction. That’s just fine with the ACC. The conference had no formal position on the matter, associate commissioner for Michael Kelly said, but the league’s coaches unanimously opposed the idea.
3. Beamer on the new kickoff rule: During his 26 years at Virginia Tech, nobody has coached special teams better than Frank Beamer. Beamer said he and his coaches have studied the new kickoff rules and are still developing their strategy. The NCAA Rules Committee will move kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35 this season. After touchbacks the offensive team will be given possession at the 25 instead of the 20. The intent of the rule is to have fewer kickoff returns and thus improve player safety. "I can see some situations where you might do a directional kick into the corner and try to stop them short of the 25," Beamer said. "But right now I'm thinking if my kickoff guy is good, I'll just tell him to kick it deep into the end zone and give them the ball on the 25. That is probably the best percentage play." The NFL went to kickoffs from the 35-yard line last season and had a huge spike (from 18.8 percent to over 45 percent of kickoffs) in touchbacks. About 16.4 percent of kickoffs in college football resulted in touchbacks last season. It will be interesting to see if there is a similar spike.