How Alabama has managed to hold onto the ball so well comes back in large part to a defensive effort to improve its ability to create turnovers. Defensive players are so intent on getting the ball in practice that offensive players have become ultra aware of security. "I think ball security with our offensive players is something that we emphasize just as much," UA coach Nick Saban said. "I do think that 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." What's the secret to ball security? "Just being aware, staying aware," Lacy said. "The defense at practice, they're going to try to take the ball whenever they can." It's not just the defense, either. Scott Cochran, UA's strength and conditioning coach, also gets in on the act. He roams the practice field and often creeps up on the running backs to swipe the ball from them individual drills. "He gets you right when you least expect it," Lacy said. "We'll watch out for him the whole time, but then you'll kind of forget about him and then he'll just pop up and hit the ball out. It's fun for him."
The receivers and running backs go through drills in which about 10 guys will line up with 10 more lined up opposite them. There will be an extremely small gap between them that a ball carrier will have to run through. All 20 will try to knock out the ball. All this work on holding onto the ball has made it a little frustrating at times for Tide defensive players who want to create fumbles. "It’s very hard, with the guys holding onto the ball that we have on our team," Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix. "We work on it, and we get better at it." And this is just how Saban wants it: "I do think that it does help that the defense is always trying to get the ball off of the offensive players, so they’re conscious all the time of protecting the ball. I think in the circumstances that we played in the other day, I don’t know how many times Arkansas fumbled the ball, but we didn’t have those issues."
"We do it every day in practice," Clinton-Dix said. "We did it during the week. Finish is what we strive on a lot." Clinton-Dix was asked what happens between the time the quarterback comes to the line and the ball is snapped. How many different things does he see in Alabama's defense as players shift around? "We run a good defensive scheme," Clinton-Dix said. "We kill a lot." That is, they change calls often. This is confusing for young players on Alabama's defense. "It’s a long process," said Clinton-Dix, a sophomore. "It took me a year to learn it. I’m still learning it now."
Both Alabama and LSU will face tests between now and Nov. 3 that are tougher than they appear on paper. Alabama's secondary has not yet been sufficiently tested. LSU is still figuring out how to replace Chris Faulk at left tackle. And, as ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit tweeted Sunday, there may be those who do not want to see history repeat itself: "IS a Bama-LSU national title going to happen again?" Absolutely not.polls will not allow it 2 yrs in a row..whoever loses Nov 3 is out.
Remove Saban, Miles, and Meyer and the rest of the SEC looks like the hangers-on filling out the Miami Heat roster. What exactly has Georgia done in the past six years that Virginia Tech hasn’t? Steve Spurrier basically created a program in Columbia — but does that match the resurrection job Gary Patterson did in Fort Worth or Chris Petersen did in Boise? The SEC’s shared southernness, its common vernacular, makes it seem like a single, fearsome entity. But Ole Miss really gives little to Alabama, except a W in conference play in 24 of the last 27 years. Saban, Miles, and Meyer. These are our SEC overlords worth bowing down to. These are the guys to exalt. It comes as a relief that the rest of the SEC can play well or suck just like us mere mortals. To which I say: Amen.
McCarron said he is not a stat guy "at all." He's not impressed that he ranks third in the nation in passing efficiency. "That's great," he said. "Shows how great my teammates are. I think it's an example of how great my offensive line is, the wonderful job they've been doing giving me time. I think that really reflects my receivers, shows what kind of catches and how hard they've been working to get those kind of stats or whatever. I just want to win. I don't really care."
AJ McCarron reminded reporters that, throughout the preseason, he said this year's group of receivers was the best he'd been around during his time at Alabama. The first three weeks have validated it. - "The chemistry between us, we're all real close. We go out to eat all the time, we know what each other's thinking. We know when somebody's having a bad day and what to say to them to pick them back up. I think that definitely helps with the chemistry and the offense."
Fun for Tide offense: Alabama’s offensive players didn’t mind having noseguard Jesse Williams join in on their side of the ball Saturday. Williams played fullback against Arkansas when the Tide had third-and-goal at the 1. Eddie Lacy got the handoff and scored, and Tide guard Chance Warmack said the guys on the offense enjoyed the moment. "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." Williams also ran the wrong way. "So you knew about that?" Warmack asked, smiling. "Sometimes I think some mistakes are good. You never know, you might see it again. I went the wrong way before. It just so happens we scored on this play."
Who could steal the show: Alabama: CB Dee Milliner is a threat to intercept any pass in his general vicinity. He had an impressive pick and return against Michigan in the season opener, and he almost had one against Arkansas last week. He just barely let the tip of the ball hit the ground on what looked to be his second interception of the season. Florida Atlantic: LB Adarius Glanton made what might be the play of the year for the Owls when he ran an interception back 42 yards for a touchdown last week against Georgia. He also chipped in eight tackles in the Owls' 56-20 loss to the Bulldogs.
Jalston is one of the most humble young men I’ve ever known and he’d certainly not ask that I write an article or shine light on him in any manner. However, what happened immediately following the injury reveals much about the teammate and human being this young man is to not only his teammates, coaches, family, and close friends but also his coaches’ families, fans of the program, opposing players and coaches, and simply people who may have had the opportunity to meet him on occasion. In my nearing 30 years of work as a fitness professional and strength coach to athletes from many different sports, I’ve never observed the show of concern and love for an athlete as I have for Nudie. This was not about people "feeling sorry" for him but an honoring of the way the young man influences the circle around him. Leaders lead 24/7 I say this not so much to give Nudie the attention and appreciation he deserves but to make it clear to other athletes that what you do, how you do it, and who you become in doing it all influence those around you one way or the other. You are either impacting others’ lives for the better or you aren’t. There’s no in-between. Leaders lead 24/7, and the fact that the soft-spoken Nudie sets such a strong example to his teammates, coaches, and all of those who know him means that even when he is not on the field he is a positive, constructive force that is beyond his powerful 250lb frame.