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The Jumbo Package | 5.18.12

Manhandling. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Manhandling. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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'The Essential Smart Football' - Question And Answer With Author Chris Brown Of - Big East Coast Bias

On defense though, Saban simply stands above the rest (though Gary Patterson at TCU deserves a hefty shout-out). Obviously Saban has had amazing talent at Alabama the last few years, but the guy is a repository of football knowledge and knows how to defend everyone. Watch this video for how in the 2009 BCS Championship game versus Texas, because he was concerned with Texas's receiver screen game and outside passing game, figured out how to play a two-deep defense and stop Texas's entire running game with just five defenders in the box by having his middle linebacker "two-gap" depending what the center did. Jokes about former Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis aside, it's extremely impressive, and arguably this tactic forced Texas in that game to try other run plays, such as the speed option which resulted in an injury to Colt McCoy. And obviously what his team did to LSU in the BCS game was impressive; equally impressive to me is the way Saban's defenses always manhandled the explosive Arkansas offenses orchestrated by Bobby Petrino. Petrino never met a defense he couldn't carve up, but Saban was always his cryptonite. As a footnote, obviously Saban is much indebted to his mentor, Bill Belichick, but I put Saban slightly ahead right now simply because Nick has had to deal with the wild assortment of tactics presented by the college game, from the Tebow/Meyer era Florida teams to Petrino's offenses to the Gus Malzahn/Cam Newton led Auburn teams to just the weekly grind of power-based offenses in the SEC. He's adapted his "pro-style" defense to handle spread offenses better than anyone else in football at any level. Part of that is talent, but also part of that is he understands the interplay of fronts, coverages, and numbers so his gameplans -- like the one against Texas -- are as sound as can be. It's not to say they are magic gameplans or that Saban will never lose, but coaching is about putting your kids in position to succeed, and he does that.

Patriots' first-round pick Dont'a Hightower is already ahead of the curve |

It had been an ongoing celebration for most members of the New England Patriots' rookie class, but the music stopped this weekend when they were given their first glimpse of the team's playbook. Enough pages to fill several encyclopedia volumes, the images exotic and the verbiage foreign, at that moment being in the NFL went from being a dream realized to a daunting job. "It was kind of like a wow thing," defensive end Justin Francis said. "It's kind of big." But the experience for first-round pick Don't' Hightower was quite different. A product of Alabama, the linebacker felt a great deal of relief as he flipped through the playbook and realized that much of the verbiage was similar to what Nick Saban used when concocting plays for the Crimson Tide.

Spring Wrap: Wide receiver - Bama Online

Norwood took home the Ray Perkins Receiver Award, which annually honors the Crimson Tide's top receiver at the close of spring drills. In three spring scrimmages, the junior hauled in 12 passes for 157 yards. Meanwhile, Jones was the Crimson Tide's most dynamic receiver in the spring, as the sophomore caught 15 passes for 192 yards and five touchdowns in three scrimmages. Remember those lacking touchdown reception and yards per catch totals for UA wide receivers last season? Between the speed this group will provide on the outside and Jones' ability to torch corners and safeties alike from the slot, explosive plays in the passing game shouldn't be as much of a problem for the position in 2012.

SEC spring breakout players - SEC Blog - ESPN

Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama: Hubbard had a monster spring for the Crimson Tide. He takes over for Courtney Upshaw at the Jack position and the people at Alabama think he might be the Tide's top pass-rusher this fall. The rising sophomore earned the Dwight Stephenson Lineman of the Game Award given to the spring game's most valuable lineman after registering seven tackles, including four tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks.

More from Cooper Bateman's offensive coordinator: 'This kid can fly and he can just flat hammer the ball' |

(What attracted him to Alabama?) "Nussmeier and those guys run a pro-style gig. He went on a trip, LSU, Alabama, Auburn and Florida. Loved all the places but just felt like he really liked Alabama. He liked the fact that the fact they're going to run it under center for a fair amount. "His dream is to play pro football someday. A lot of it was about being under center, running a pro style. He didn't care where he went. It was really interesting. I said it was a long way ... and as you can imagine the local schools wanted him. Honestly, he's like 'I don't care. I might as well play the best football I can and see if I can play at that level.' "Really, really, really respects coach Saban. Really likes Nussmeier. Nussmeier knows his stuff, played the position. He got along quite well with coach Nussmeier."

Softball Set to Host Eighth Straight NCAA Regional -

The Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament champions Alabama softball team (50-7) has been selected as the No. 2 seed nationally for the NCAA Tournament and will host Tennessee-Martin, South Alabama, and Georgia Tech in the Tuscaloosa Regional this weekend. South Alabama and Georgia Tech will open play on Friday, May 18, at 3:30 p.m., at Rhoads Stadium, while Alabama and UT-Martin will begin at 6 p.m. The winners of the two Friday games will face off at 1 p.m., on Saturday, May 19, with the Friday losers squaring off at 3:30 p.m. The final elimination game will be at 6 p.m., Saturday night. On Sunday, May 20, the championship game is set for 1 p.m. If necessary, a second game will follow at 3:30 p.m.

Tide's Williams on Lott watch list |

University of Alabama defensive lineman Jesse Williams is one of 42 players named to the 2012 Lott IMPACT Trophy preseason watch list. Williams, a senior who will play nose guard this fall, is expected to be among the top defensive linemen in the Southeastern Conference this year after starting every game for the Crimson Tide last season.

Battle for signature of McGill QB Jason Smith may come down to Bama, Auburn (video) |

Smith, who threw for 1,307 yards and ran for another 740 last season, said Alabama coach Nick Saban, in particular, has spoken to him about the possibility of switching positions. "They said they would give me a chance at quarterback, but they want me to be successful for the future -- me going to the pros," Smith said of Alabama recruiters. "(Saban) says he sees me as an NFL corner and an NFL receiver. The man knows what he's talking about because he's been doing this for a long time."

Insider: Projecting The Draft Picks – Mark Barron | ESPN Florida | Florida's Sports Leader

Although Schiano has been mum on what he will specifically be implementing as far as a defensive scheme or system, Barron’s array of skills should make him a useful tool for Schiano to move around the field at different spots if he chooses. He could even conceivably fill a similar role to what fellow safety Grimm handled at Virginia Tech as the team’s "whip linebacker"—a hybrid who filled the roles of an outside linebacker and a safety. He could be moved up as a sort of fourth linebacker in run support, he could blitz, or he could man up against a slot receiver or tight end.

Tide's Williams on Lott watch list |

University of Alabama defensive lineman Jesse Williams is one of 42 players named to the 2012 Lott IMPACT Trophy preseason watch list. Williams, a senior who will play nose guard this fall, is expected to be among the top defensive linemen in the Southeastern Conference this year after starting every game for the Crimson Tide last season.

The Associated Press: Big Ten network cuts academics, citing low ratings

The Big Ten cable network has been an unchallenged success promoting conference sports to a national audience and making money for its members. The academic programming its leaders had promised hasn't panned out. When the Big Ten Network launched in 2007, officials said it would promote the scholarly work done at its 11 schools. The network, Commissioner Jim Delany said, would broadcast up to 60 hours of non-sports programming from each school every year, providing "the ability to highlight academic achievement throughout the universities." Five years later, the network is running less academic coverage than ever as it generates tens of millions in revenue for the conference and boasts of 51 million subscribers. Citing low ratings and poor production quality, the network and university presidents agreed to slash academic programming and emphasize quality and ratings over quantity.