You know the routine, submit questions and we'll give some answers. This is our first chat with reader submitted questions here at RBR, but hopefully not our last. Keep the questions coming, and we'll keep these pieces going.
Question 1: Remember how the Fox Sports Net South camera crew was in Tuscaloosa for Spring Practice? Is that show ever going to air?
OTS: According to published reports, the show will air for the first time tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET. Re-airs are currently scheduled for the following dates: June 4 at 11:00 p.m. ET, Thursday, June 5 at 10:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, June 8 at 5:00 p.m. ET, and Thursday, June 12 at 10:00 p.m. ET.
It sounds like it will be a very good piece, so if you have the time, I'd suggest that you tune in. If you happen to miss it, though, no worries. Cable sports networks are notorious for reshowing original programming a million times, so I'm sure it will be on several other times throughout the summer.
Question 2: With all of the questions surrounding Prince Hall and Zeke Knight, who will be the Tide's starting linebackers? Including freshman, and exclude Hall and Knight.
OTS: That's a very tough question, to put it mildly. Making matters even worse is how often Saban loves to move the different linebackers around in practice, so you cannot even say with any definitiveness as to which guys will be playing in which positions. As a result, almost any venture attempting to predict the starting linebackers will be a highly speculative undertaking.
That said, I'll give it a shot and go with the following order: Jerrell Harris will start at outside linebacker, while Jimmy Johns and Rolando McClain will be the inside 'backers. The Jack position will go to Courtney Upshaw, and in passing situations Johns will be the first off the field. I'm not sure that will be the starting four in the season opener, but I think you'll see it before the season is over.
Question 3: Who will be the Tide's starting twenty-two next year? Breakdown each position.
OTS: Again, it's a pretty speculative venture in some situations, but I'll give it a shot with the following:
Offensively Wilson will be the starter at quarterback, and Grant / Coffee will still split the bulk of the carries early on. The starting five up front will have Andre at left tackle, Mike Johnson at left guard, Antoine Caldwell at center, Marlon Davis at right guard, and Tyler Love will start at right tackle. Nick Walker will be the number one tight end, and Travis McCall will continue to be the first off of the bench in two tight end sets. At wide receiver we'll see Earl Alexander starting along Mike McCoy and Julio Jones.
Defensively, we'll see Washington starting at nose guard with Cody playing in rushing situations and Washington possibly shifting out to end in running situations. The two every-down ends will be Greenwood and Deaderick. The linebackers will be as mentioned in the previous question. The cornerback spots will be filled by Kareem Jackson and Alonzo Lawrence, with Marquis Johnson and Lionell Mitchell fighting it out for the nickel corner job. Rashad Johnson will start at safety, and though Justin Woodall may start very early opposite Johnson, he will give way to Mark Barron as the season progresses, if not by the time the opener rolls around.
But what do I know?
Question Four: If Snow were to start switch-hitting, who would she choose?
OTS: Easy question. She would invent a time machine, go back in time, and choose... the one, the only... Kathy Ireland.
Question Five: To be succinct, do you ever feel a little embarrassed/unhip at an Alabama game? Does it ever get a little too Redneck for you when they are playing Sweet Home Alabama for the umpteenth time, or you see a confederate flag at a tailgate? And without being specifically political, but I notice that the Top Ten playlists of you guys lack a lot of Toby Keith/Kenny Chesney, along with being young, and its fair to say that your views skew a little more liberally than they "typical" Alabama fan. To put it another way, do you look around at the crowd at Bryant Denny sometimes and say, I have little in common with 85% of the people here other than a love for Alabama football. And how does that make you guys feel?
OTS: First and foremost, you're right on the musical selections. Kenny Chesney is nauseating at best, and Toby Keith needs to do the whole world a favor and just die, taking his crappy music with him.
That said, I cannot say that I've really ever felt out of place at an Alabama game. Sure you have a redneck element, but you will have that regardless of where you go in the country. To be sure, I don't agree with a lot of things with a lot of the people that attend, but I don't think there is anything overly unusual going on. As a whole, I think the atmosphere of an Alabama game is really just a microcosm of society as a whole. You have a little bit of everything, just like in the real world, and I cannot say I've really ever encountered anything, at least on a consistent basis, that made me feel truly out of place. Sure you run across the random idiot, but nothing widespread.
As for a few other things, I wouldn't call Lynyrd Skynyrd redneck, and they don't play Sweet Home Alabama but, at absolute most, twice. This new Dixieland Delight crap added the past few games is nauseating -- whoever came up with that one should join Toby; maybe we could get a murder-suicide arranged between those two -- but you find that a lot of other places too. Go to an LSU game and you can "enjoy" the sounds of Garth Brooks whaling about a trucker, and "Louisiana Saturday Night," so it's far from an Alabama issue. With confederate flags, I cannot recall the last one I've seen at Alabama. You see a few, but that has always been an Ole Miss fixture, and even so you probably see that everywhere else as much as you do in Tuscaloosa.
I don't claim to represent the whole of the fan base, mind you, but personally it has never been an issue with me.
Question Six: How do you think Mike Johnson will handle the transition to left guard?
OTS: I, for one, am pretty excited about Johnson switching to left guard. He was impressive in the running game at right tackle, and occasionally looked decent as a blocker, but he simply did not have the quickness or the athleticism needed to keep up with the high caliber defensive ends that you must face in this conference. Given that basic limitation, I don't think he would have ever been anything more than just an adequate at best right tackle.
At left guard, though, it's a different story. We can fully utilize his abilities as a run blocker, and the athleticism won't be an issue in pass blocking. Now he will be taking on interior linemen, and given his past as a right tackle, he should be a very effective pass blocker in that role. Moreover, you have to feel there will be some synergistic gains by placing him in between our two best linemen. It's a move that I'm really excited about.
Question Seven: How far back do the Pythagorean projections go?
OTS: As of right now, I've done the Pythagorean projections for the SEC all the way back until the 1998 season. As a result, we now have ten years of data at our disposal. For Alabama, though, I've done them much deeper, going back as far as the 1991 season.
I do plan on, in the future, compiling Pythagorean projections going back until 1992, when the conference expanded to its current format. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any raw points scored / points allowed numbers for 1997 and prior, and as a result you have to go through each team's schedule adding up points. It gets quite time consuming, and as a result it hasn't been done yet. In due time, though.