A competition with AJ McCarron for the role is more than enough for Sims to focus on, for now, without concerning himself with the demands that await UA's next starter at the position. But if the redshirt freshman does eventually earn the job, it's clear he's got the belief in his own game that's necessary for any successful quarterback. "I think I'm a pretty accurate quarterback, strong arm, pocket passer. I think I fit real well in our system as a pro-style offense ... I mean, we have great athletes here, like Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks and DeAndrew White and guys like that," Sims said. "Getting the ball in those guys' hands is a quarterback's dream. So you get the ball out of your hand and into their hands as fast as possible."
"Phillip is one of the best players on NCAA College Football 2012," Maze said. "I guess being a quarterback, he knows how to read certain things." Can those virtues in a virtual world transfer to game day on a real football field? "I hope so," Maze said.
"I think I'm getting better with my leadership skills," the former UMS-Wright standout said. "I think it's well known ... that I come out every day and I give 100 percent. Just coming out with the right mentality, the right focus. I'm just trying to lead the younger guys. I'm one of the seniors in the group, so I just do my best to bring some of the young guys along."
"I've probably been saying this forever," Williams said, "now it's time to become dominant, put everything together and become a dominant tight end. "As a tight end you've got to block and catch, so I think it's one of the greatest and toughest positions to play. You have to do it all - you have to block a 300-pound defensive lineman and you have to beat a linebacker who runs a 4.5 or 4.6 (-second 40-yard dash) on a route, so it's all about putting everything together to try to become a complete tight end."
"Maybe sometime in October he would be able to start running, but is it worth it to bring the guy back for that little bit of the season?," Saban asked. "Maybe he'll be able to practice some later in the season. Maybe in a black shirt. Maybe for bowl practice. But we won't make the decision to play him until we see how he develops."
Coach Nick Saban spends a healthy share of practice time working with the defensive backs. He had a specific challenge laid out for Milliner to correct between his first two collegiate seasons. "One thing we continue to work on is that he has better knowledge and experience but I talk about finishing being a mindset; finishing plays and finishing the game and not being a guy that as soon as things seem to be going well you become at ease with yourself," Saban said. "He’s made a tremendous amount of improvement in that."
A five-star prospect with a national reputation, Dee Milliner carried the burden of expectations to Tuscaloosa in the spring of 2010. He was just good enough, it turned out, to lose that learning curve. Graduation, injuries and a suspension gutted the defensive secondary before the 2010 season. That left Milliner -- one of the nation's top high school cornerbacks a year earlier -- playing without a safety net and learning on the fly.
"I feel like I've matured a little bit. Coach stayed on me, talked to me about being more consistent," Kirkpatrick said. "My goal is to make like every practice like it's my first practice, like I'm trying to give a first impression on every down I'm out there."
1. Alabama: A.J. McCarron versus Phillip Sims -- This one features two underclassmen who are looking to guide one of the best teams in America. Alabama isn't just playing for the SEC championship; the Tide want to add another national championship trophy to their lavish collection. To do that, Alabama will have to figure out who will take over under center. Both McCarron, who mostly appeared in mop-up duty last season, and Sims, a redshirt freshman, left spring even. Nothing has happened to change that, with both getting equal reps in practice. Both have impressed their coaches and teammates with their playing ability and leadership. Players continue to say they'd be pleased with either taking the job and coach Nick Saban said he won't hesitate to play both during the season.
Nick Saban has two of the best coordinators in the nation in Jim McElwain (offense) and Kirby Smart (defense), and both should be head coaches relatively soon. Saban obviously has put together a recruiting juggernaut, and position coaches such as Burton Burns (running backs) and Sal Sunseri (linebackers) sure know what to do with the talent when they get it.
The 2011 NCAA Champion Alabama gymnastics team posted a 3.71 team grade point average last season, setting a new school record to go with its fifth national team championship. "As a staff we are extremely proud that in the same year we won the championship `triple-crown', we also had the highest team GPA and had the most Scholastic All-Americans in program history," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "It just goes to show that at the University of Alabama, everything is within your grasp."
Community spirit: Football returns to Tuscaloosa Alabama opens the season Sept. 3 against Kent State, and rarely has a paycheck game meant so much. There is little doubt that the Crimson Tide will destroy the Golden Flashes. But for the city of Tuscaloosa, the game will offer another chance to heal from the devastation wrought by the April tornado that wiped out homes, businesses and lives. Football means more in Tuscaloosa than it does just about anywhere else, and the Kent State game gives residents -- many of whom are still trying to rebuild their lives -- a reason to come together and cheer after months of struggling. When Bear Bryant's voice growls through the speakers at Bryant-Denny Stadium, the roar might match the decibel level after a last-second win in a critical SEC game. The offseason in Tuscaloosa has been long and painful. Football will help make life normal again. The game will provide only a brief respite for those still dealing with the tornado's aftermath. The news cycle has continued to spin, but there is still much work to do in Tuscaloosa.
Q: Who taught you about the film study?
Rolando McClain: Coach Nick Saban. It’s just those three years working with him that prepared me for right now. I’m able to watch film and study my opponent. I give all credit to him.
But, the flip side is they have rookie Mark Ingram as the No. 3 running back behind Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. I will be shocked if Ingram is not the starter, or at least the feature back, by opening day.
With precautionary measures complete and no surgery required, Penn State coach Joe Paterno was released late this morning, worked on today's practice plans and is looking forward to being at tomorrow's practice. "It's time for everyone to turn the attention to the team," Paterno said. "We have a lot of hard work ahead in order to be as good as we think we can be."
Except, KSU players and coaches are not permitted to talk about Alabama by name. For Hazell, that is not what is most important at this time. "I don’t want to talk about Alabama for the next three weeks," Hazell said. "Right now is about us and doing what we need to do to get better. We are preparing, but the focus has to be on us right now."