Sep 15, 2012; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Christion Jones (22) gets past Arkansas Razorback safety Eric Bennett (14) as cornerback Darius Winston (21) looks on during the first half at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-US PRESSWIRE
Through three games, UA has completed passes to 13 different players, with no receiver catching more than seven of the 40 passes Alabama has completed — and only once has someone caught more than three passes in a game, when running back T.J. Yeldon snagged four balls against Western Kentucky. What it means is that quarterback AJ McCarron isn’t playing favorites, and that he is going through his reads and passing to the open man. "It’s not just one person," said Christion Jones, who has caught six passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns." "We’re going to do everything collectively. Our receiving corps is getting stronger and stronger each week. We’re focusing on technique and trying to get timing down with AJ. I think that’s a big thing with AJ spreading the ball, because anybody’s number can be called at any time.
"You've never really arrived," Saban said. "The goal should be to make the team stronger. We need to work on demanding more from each other and ourselves so that we can become a better team. It's human nature sometimes that people respond better when things go bad. I want to see if our players have the maturity to be able to respond even when things don't go bad. That's something we will see if we can manage a little bit better this week than we have in some past weeks."
Going back to the third quarter of last season’s Auburn game, Alabama is on a 167-14 roll with three shutouts in the last four games. The Tide has forced 12 turnovers and committed just one this season, and nine players have sacks. Not good enough for Saban, whose team hosts 50-point underdog Florida Atlantic (1-2) on Saturday. For young players, especially, he says: "Being average is contagious." "If you demand more of yourselves, you get more," Saban said. "If we went out and asked some 12-year-old kid, ‘What do you need to do to improve on?’ he’d probably have to sit there and think for a half-hour, 45 minutes about something he could improve on.
Alabama is coming off a 52-point win over Arkansas and has been listed as a 51-point favorite this week against Florida Atlantic, giving Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban all the more reason to focus on within. The top-ranked Tide have reeled off 94 consecutive points since late in the third quarter of the season-opening thrashing of Michigan. That tops the streak of 70 unanswered points Alabama compiled from the third quarter of last season's game at Auburn through the second quarter against the Wolverines. "There is always room to improve," Saban said Monday. "You have never really arrived. The goal should be to make the team stronger, and we need to work on demanding more from each other so that we can become a better team. "It's human nature that people respond better when things go bad, but I want to see if our players have the maturity to be able to respond even when things don't go bad."
"On both sides of the ball, there's examples where we executed," Pelini said. "We did ok, we had some success. But there's examples all over the place of where we didn't. A lot of times, defensively, it was guys not playing within the scheme, thinking they had to do something extra, because of who we were playing against. "If we can play disciplined football, if we can just do that, we'll be fine. We'll play a good game and we'll hang in there."
Pelini called Alabama under Nick Saban "as finely a coached team as I’ve seen since I’ve been in college football," today on his Sun Belt conference call. The game this week in Tuscaloosa marks the first time FAU will faced the No. 1 ranked in the country. The Crimson Tide are a 50- to 51-point favorite, depending on the book. Either way, this is the biggest point spread ever for an FAU game, topping the previous record set a week ago when the Owls were a 42.5 point underdog at Georgia, which did not cover in their 56-20 victory.
"You guys ask me about practice," Saban said to reporters at his regular Monday news conference. "Let me just tell you about practice. Guys don’t do different things in the games than they do in practice. Almost everything that we messed up, we messed up in practice. "Almost everything guys do well in the game, they did well in practice. So the guy makes good runs in practice, and he made a few good runs in the game. But that’s the way it goes. It kind of is what it is."
Heading into 2012, I figured Alabama's defense would be consistently outstanding again but might be sporadically vulnerable, probably to deep passes, because of some experience issues. Glitches could come at anytime -- we are only one-quarter of the way through the regular season, after all -- but they have been nonexistent thus far. Alabama has proven that their overall level of quality is going to be as good in 2012 as it was in 2009-11, and it might even be higher. Saban Ball might not be as aesthetically pleasing as other styles in college football, but through the first three weeks of the season, it has been virtually untouchable.
Florida Atlantic receiver William Dukes had a breakout game vs. Georgia, but he may not be available for this week's contest at No. 1 Alabama. Against the Bulldogs, Dukes had 98 yards receiving on five catches including a 48-yard reception that put the Owls at the 1-yard line and set up their second touchdown of the game. However, Dukes was carted off the field after receiving a leg injury late in the game.
In a world of spread offenses and multitalented quarterbacks, zone-options and air raids, Alabama's offense is relatively old-school. The quarterbacks throw. The running backs run. The receivers catch. The Tide plays tight ends and even lines up a fullback at times. To beat Alabama, you've got to stop the run, Nutt said. To do that, you've got to get through a line that is so good last season's All-American tackle, Barrett Jones, is now playing center to make room for the future All-American tackle, Cyrus Kouandjio. To beat Alabama, you've got to win the turnover battle, said Nutt, who is now working for CBS Sports Network. Then he adds: ''But the thing they do best, is they don't turn it over.''
1. Alabama (3-0; LW: 1): The Crimson Tide left little doubt that they're the best team in the country after blowing Arkansas out of its own stadium 52-0. The Razorbacks might have been down, but it's not like they didn't have talent to test Alabama. Saturday was barely a contest and now everyone is wondering if anyone can beat this team right now.
Quarterback AJ McCarron, who bruised his throwing hand during Saturday's second quarter, wasn't showing any signs that the injury was bothering him. He didn't have any extra padding on it and was throwing just as much as his fellow quarterbacks. Perhaps the only difference was he had an assistant catching the passes that were thrown to him during warm-ups.
Jones said getting reps with the first-team line and the backup quarterbacks could prove important, too. Starting quarterback AJ McCarron injured his hand during the game and Phillip Ely came in to spell him under center, followed by Blake Sims. "That's valuable, too, just to do that in case something were to happen and to have that familiarity there," he said. Sims and Ely combined to go 3-for-4 passing for 24 yards. Sims rushed the ball twice for 27 yards and a touchdown. "It's great for the players, all these guys want to play," said Alabama coach Nick Saban. "They work hard, they deserve to play, we love to get them to play. We wanted to get an opportunity for the other quarterbacks to have a chance to play with the first line and the first receivers."
When this aggressive defense clashes with the sure-handed offense in practice, what gives? How often does the offense lose a fumble? "I really don’t know," running back Eddie Lacy said. "But whenever we do, we really don’t like to go back to the coaches, I know that." He laughed, but what happens isn’t funny. "Let’s just say we hear a lot of things we don’t want to after fumbling the ball," Lacy said. The offense gives ball security credit to the defense. "It does help that the defense is always trying to get the ball off of them, so they're conscious all the time of protecting the ball," said Alabama coach Nick Saban
"Everybody likes seeing Jesse Williams on the goal line," Warmack said. "He's big. He can bench 600 pounds. He brings a tremendous job as far as just executing on the goal line. We really love him for doing that."
Sophomore safety HaHa Clinton-Dix barely cracked a smile when he answered a question Monday that everyone else around him found to be hilarious. How long does it take Nick Saban to bring the team back down to Earth and remind it what went wrong, even after a game like Saturday’s 52-0 victory at Arkansas? "Every five seconds," Clinton-Dix said. "As soon as you mess up, no matter what the score is, if you make a mental error, he’ s going to be on you hard."
"They’re taught to back-peddle. They all can back-peddle," he said. "You come to practice every day, they back-peddle in individual, they back-peddle sometimes on their plan. We play our corners up on people a lot, so sometimes they bail-off; sometimes they play bump-and-run. Sometimes they get off and back-peddle. "I just think that we’re just not philosophically in to playing a lot of soft coverage, where you line seven, eight or nine yards off a guy and give him a lot of easy throws in front; but we do teach them how to back-peddle. We teach them how to plant and drive out of a back-peddle. There are coverages that we have where our corners do play off, that’s just not philosophically how we play most of the time."
The postseason system that replaces college football's Bowl Championship Series could include as many as eight bowl games plus the national-title game, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said. The initial plan out of the June meetings that approved the sport's first playoff—a four-team version to begin after the 2014 season—was to have six bowls plus the championship game. The two semifinal games would rotate among those bowls. But concerns about access for smaller conferences prompted talk of increasing the number of bowls in the system. BCS leaders will meet this week to discuss access and revenue sharing. The post-2014 bowls will include the Rose, Orange and Champions—which will pit the Big 12 and Southeastern conferences—and at least three others to be determined.