TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 24: AJ McCarron #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide passes against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AJ McCarron’s relationship with receiver corps: "I think we probably have maybe the best chemistry that we’ve had for a long time between the quarterbacks and receivers. AJ is really a good leader. AJ’s one of those guys that knows what everybody’s supposed to do on every play. We ran a draw in the scrimmage and Cyrus (Kouandjio) missed his block. AJ said if you make that block that would have been out the gate. He knows who is supposed to block everybody, he knows who is supposed to block everybody on every pass pick-up and protection. He knows how the guys are supposed to run the routes and what the depth is supposed to be and when they don’t do it the right way."
Walk-on scholarships are rare at any school, especially at those like Alabama (and others) who stay at or near the NCAA total limit of 85 players on scholarship. It is a different argument for a different day as to whether UA could have more such opportunities. In this case, a scholarship was there and it is hard to imagine a more appropriate use of it than the one which Nick Saban chose. Tinker's story grew from the common characteristics of most successful walk-ons - dogged determination, steady optimism and abundant patience. Tinker received the reward for that on Tuesday - but a reward that was not a gift, but hard-earned.
Tinker, who has been at the front of Alabama’s efforts to aid Tuscaloosa in its recovery from the April 27, 2011 tornadoes, was called into Saban’s office Monday for an unexpected, one-on-one meeting. He left with a scholarship, something he’s dreamt of acquiring since the day he walked on with the Crimson Tide in 2008. "You really have to earn it, so it's an honor," Tinker said. "It's an answered prayer, honestly. I'm very thankful." And with that kind of news, Saban earned a hug from Tinker. "I think that made him feel a little awkward," Tinker said with a broad smile splashed across his face.
In Alabama's two scrimmages, the statistics revealed this one little surprise: the leading pass-catcher in both was a running back. Eddie Lacy led the first one with five catches, and backup Dee Hart matched that in the second scrimamge. Neither gained a lot of yards through receiving. Lacy's catches added up to 25 yards, while Hart picked up 32. But Lacy said you should consider what could happen if the running back isn't open. "If all the receivers are covered downfield, we have to be open for the check down just to catch it and get a couple yards for the offense instead of taking a sack or incomplete pass," Lacy said.
University of Alabama Director of Athletics Mal Moore is spending the night in the hospital because of an irregular heartbeat. Moore was admitted Tuesday night to DCH Regional Medical Center, Alabama confirmed in a short news release. "Coach Moore was admitted as a precautionary measure and is doing fine," Dr. James B. Robinson, Moore's personal physician, said, according to the news release.
Two Alabama football players that are sidelined could be out "as much as a week," coach Nick Saban said after practice Tuesday. Starting running back Eddie Lacy (ankle) and freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper (knee) are "day to day," Saban said, as is backup center Ryan Kelly (ankle). "We'll see how it goes," Saban said. "It's not an exact science."
The football team returned to the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields after spending two days off following the scrimmage that was held this past Saturday. The Crimson Tide spent two hours in full pads to start its final week of training camp. "After we watched the scrimmage, we saw some good things, but there are definitely a lot of things we need to improve on," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. "We are not disappointed at all on where we are, but we are not satisfied with the progress that we need to make to try to get where we want to be."
Ondre Pipkins is back at practice. Roy Roundtree is getting close to joining him. That's positive news for the Michigan football team on the injury front. Coach Brady Hoke said Tuesday that Pipkins, a freshman defensive lineman who suffered a neck injury during Friday's practice and was taken to the hospital for evaluation, has fully recovered. Pipkins returned to practice Monday, and is wearing full pads. He has no limitations. Hoke said the injury occurred during a one-on-one drill under his supervision. "I was there and we didn't think it was going to be real bad, but you're not sure," Hoke said. "It was my drill. Just a one-on-one. "Our medical staff here did a phenomenal job of taking the right precautions and all that. He's back in full pads, practicing, doing everything."
Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke told the media on Tuesday that he's still undecided on whether running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and defensive end Frank Clark will be allowed to play in the team's season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Both players were suspended earlier in the offseason, but began practicing with the team on Aug. 13. Toussaint was arrested in July for a DUI, while Clark was charged in July with second-degree home invasion after allegedly stealing a Macbook Air from a dorm room.
Michigan will attempt to simulate its trip to Cowboys Stadium on Wednesday night by practicing at Ford Field. "We’re going to go down there and change the environment up a little bit," coach Brady Hoke said. "I think it’s good for us, have some distractions that are built in when you do that. We’ve been doing some crowd noise with music. I think AC/DC was on today." He said it won’t be a full scrimmage but anything to simulate the massive Arlington, Texas, venue for the Sept. 1 opener against Alabama will be helpful. "Practice with some situational (scrimmage), two minutes (drill), put the high pressure stuff on them and see if they can stay focused," Hoke said.
It's a little unconventional to go with a returning full-time starter as a breakout player, but I think Ryan is poised to become one of the best playmaking linebackers in the Big Ten -- and eventually, maybe the country. He finished with 37 tackles last year, which was just tenth on the team and last among the starting linebackers. Even backup linebacker Brandin Hawthorne had more. But Ryan's worth wasn't measured in overall plays, but in impactful plays. He was brilliant in opponents' backfields, and finished with 11 tackles for loss -- nearly a third of his overall tackles. That was more than the other starting linebackers combined, and trailed only defensive end Ryan Van Bergen on the team.
"The most important thing is the team has a chance to be as good as it can be, even if that means sacrificing Heisman Trophies," offensive coordinator Al Borges said in a recent interview. "Some of the accolades that go with high-profile players, that's not at the top of our lists. "There's no goal in that room that says 'Denard Robinson wins a Heisman Trophy.' I'd love for that to happen, and I've had kids get close to it, but this is not a place that you go to, necessarily, with that in mind. This is a place you go to to win football games."