Amari Cooper thought he came up short of his goals when he hauled in 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman, so you can only imagine how disappointed he was by the 736 yards and four touchdowns he had as a sophomore. Of course, we're being a little facetious, but this is the way Cooper thinks. He's one of the best wide receivers in the SEC for a reason, and he sets the bar high for himself.
A couple of nagging injuries were cited as the main reasons behind Cooper's struggles during the first half of 2013, but he performed like the Cooper of old down the stretch. His final two big plays of the year showed just how dangerous he can be, as he burned past Jonothan Mincy for a 99-yard touchdown in the Iron Bowl and raced 53 yards on a short screen early in the Sugar Bowl.
His teammates love his wild side and this could be the year the rest of the SEC gets a feel for it. Dillon Lee has the long hair spilling out of his helmet and the personality to match it.
For two years, he made noise on special teams while backing up Hubbard. He figures to be more a part of the game plan with Hubbard leaving for the NFL. Some packages have Lee playing in the middle as well, so he's the versatile kind of linebacker Alabama loves.
Lee is going to kill it this year. The guy is a human missile and I wouldn't be surprised if he's a household name by the end of the season.
No one elicited more attention post-Iron Bowl than Drake, who was mysteriously sidelined throughout the entire second half against Auburn. Ball security issues were cited as the main reason, as Drake had just as many fumbles as Yeldon on half of the carries during the regular season, but he never got much of a shot at redemption at the Sugar Bowl because of Henry's rise up the depth chart.
Drake has a special skill set, particularly when it comes to speed, but he'll need to prove he can be reliable both on and off the field (He's been suspended for a game in each of the past two seasons). In his previous stops, new Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has found plenty of room in his game plan for a player with Drake's abilities. If he can stay on the path Alabama wants, Drake will be a dynamic change of pace to Yeldon and Henry.
Speaking after LSU's spring practice on Saturday, Miles said slowing the game would make it less exciting and hurt fan interest.
"There's little or no evidence that would say that injury is likely," Miles said. "Having said that, the incidence of injury in football is 100 percent. That being said, 'He hurt his hand. Why? Because he was playing football. He hurt his elbow. Why? Because he was playing football.'"
It’s also true Saban has won three of the last five national championships with the rules exactly as they are now. The 40-second play clock was adopted by college football in 2008, and Redding said recently that there was a feeling at the time that the advantage had swung somewhat to the offenses.
“To some extent, we knew we were handing the pace of play over to the offense, although I don’t think anybody anticipated that we’d see what we’re seeing today,” Redding said.
The reality is that very few teams snap the ball in the first 10 seconds of the play clock. The bigger issue is that defenses don’t have a window to substitute unless the offense substitutes.
The offensive coaches see that as strategy, which makes perfect sense if the pace of play is going to be dictated by the offenses and not the officials.
Well, alright. Looks like we're starting to see a trickle of intelligence in this debate. More of this, please.
"It's an exciting time in my career," Ingram told NOLA.com at an autograph signing in Slidell, La. "I just want to take advantage of my situation and the opportunity that's presenting itself. Just want to prove to the organization that I can be the back they wanted, an every-down back, type of playmaker that they need.
"I'm excited about my situation. It's unfortunate to see a lot of guys go, but I'm excited about my opportunity that I have coming up."