The sportswriters who vote in the Associated Press' preseason Top 25 college football poll really like the SEC this year. A lot. Or they're as confused as the rest of us about who should be favored to do well or fall flat on their faces. Because for whatever reason, the SEC placed eight teams in the preseason ranking. That's more than half of the conference's 14 members -- and Florida very nearly made it nine.
That's a whole bunch of ESS EE SEE bias, PAAAAWWWWLL.
...And that whole "Florida very nearly made it nine" bit? Stop. Sleeping. On Florida. I would definitely put them ahead of Missouri, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss, and might would entertain putting them over a couple others in the conference that made the cut.
Nationally renowned motivational speaker Eric Thomas relayed a message to Crimson Tide players that stuck with Saban all the way through the official end to preseason camp. He hopes it sticks with them through their two days off and carries over to the remaining practices before Alabama's Aug. 30 season opener against West Virginia.
"Everybody wants to be the beast, everybody wants to be No. 1, but until they've got to do what the beast has got to do to be a beast, then it all changes," Saban said. "So that's going to be the difference in this team. I'm sure they all want to be good. Are they going to do what they have to do to be good? That'll be the test. That means you can play with your 'A' game on a consistent basis, you play to a high standard, you can do it on a consistent basis.
"That's certainly what we want our team to be able to do."
After the first scrimmage, Saban said he's "been encouraged by the offensive line to this point." It was still waiting to get Leon Brown back to full speed and JUCO transfer Dominick Jackson sprained his ankle.
The review after Saturday's scrimmage was not as positive.
"I don't think we were physical enough on the line of scrimmage today," Saban said. "I think that's something that we've got to work on."
If you read through the analysis, you'll find that most groups follow this pattern:
1) Saban says [group] was good/bad following first scrimmage,
2) Saban laments/praises the regression/progress [group] has made after the second scrimmage
It's almost as if, in order for one group to succeed, another must suffer...
"They are looking really good," sophomore Jonathan Allen said. "I feel like all the freshmen came in and did what they needed to do -- work hard, accept the coaching well. We're all proud of the freshmen and how they came in and handled the work and were mature about the situations."
Freshmen cornerbacks Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey have both received more opportunities because of sophomore Eddie Jackson's ongoing recovery from knee surgery, Saban said. Both appear to be working behind first-teamers Cyrus Jones and Bradley Sylve.
"The whole secondary as a group, we're just competing every day," Sylve said. "We're not really worrying about (playing time). We're just trying to get better each day and focusing on what we have to do."
The one constant at the Crimson Tide's two scrimmages? Sophomore kicker Adam Griffith.
After missing just one of his kicks in a rain-drenched opener, Griffith was a perfect 5-for-5 on a much more pleasant day at Bryant-Denny Stadium. He hit multiple field goals from more than 40 yards to elicit some unprompted praise from Nick Saban, who typically keeps his words to a minimum when it pertains to the specialists.
Freshman punter JK Scott was also praised after both scrimmages.
Gus Malzahn told reporters Saturday that Auburn returning starting "star" safety Robenson Therezie could miss the Tiger's season opener against Arkansas -- and potentially games beyond that -- over an undisclosed eligiblity question.
"We're working through some eligibility issues right now with him," Malzahn said, per al.com. "We should know more in the near future, and when we find out, I'll definitely let you know. But that's all I'm going to say about that."
Kevin Sumlin named sophomore Kenny Hill Texas A&M's starting quarterback Saturday evening, ending a months-long battle between Hill and five-star early-enrollee freshman Kyle Allen.
"Competition was close and that competition will continue to help us improve," Sumlin said, per the Aggies' official Twitter feed. "I have talked to both quarterbacks as well as the team and we will prepare with Kenny getting the first-team reps."
Originally a four-star dual-threat prospect from Southlake, Texas, Hill played sparingly behind Manziel as a true freshman in 2013, appearing in five games and completing 16 of 22 passes for 8.3 yards an attempt with one touchdown.
Former Alabama All-American Barrett Jones has had back surgery and could miss the NFL season for the second straight year, St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher confirmed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the Rams' preseason game against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday.
Nick Saban press conference following second scrimmage
Second scrimmage warmups
Andy Staples on Bama