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Jumbo Package: Hogs Not To Be Taken Lightly

The players and coaches are saying the right things, at least.

Mattias-Smith is in for a long day.
Mattias-Smith is in for a long day.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Middle of the field: Open for business?

Saban talks Hunter Henry, Special Teams Coach

Bobby Henry leads all SEC tight ends with 20 catches for 268 yards so far this year, and is considered one of the top prospects for the 2016 or 2017 NFL draft at his position. He was a preseason All-American candidate this year, and is second on the team in receptions and yards.

"Hunter Henry is probably in my mind maybe the best tight end in the country in terms of he's got great size, he's very athletic, he's a very good receiver, but he blocks well, he does everything that you could ask a guy to do," UA coach Nick Saban said.

Sorry to get your hopes up re: special teams. Saban's gist is that until the NCAA permits a 10th coach, Alabama fans are stuck with He Who Shall Not Be Named.

With regards to Henry, that kid is a monster in the seams, and particularly excels near the red zone. He also blocks extremely well. I would expect a lot of Reuben Foster in passing downs. The upside is that Alabama did a very good job against Ole Miss, all-but neutralizing Evan Ingram.


Alabama defense prepping for offense comparable to last week's opponent |

"I think he's one of the best backs in the SEC," Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said. "He may not get the recognition of the other people, but he's definitely a physical guy. Likes to run the ball. Speed. He does a good job."

There is a lot of respect coming from the Alabama camp for Alex Collins, who defenders consistently rate as one of the most physical players in the conference, and certainly a load to bring down. The loss of JWill has meant more carries for Collins and certainly more passes for Brandon Allen. But the offense still goes through the ground, and Collins still keeps the Razorbacks ahead of the chains.

Alabama hosts Arkansas Saturday and Hogs are similar to Georgia - Alabama - Scout

No two football games are likely to play out the same way, but preparation for one game could have carryover to a second, particularly if the opposing teams are similar. Both Georgia, last week’s Alabama opponent, and Arkansas, this week’s Crimson Tide foe, are similar offensively, and that has the potential to be helpful for the Crimson Tide offense.

“There is a little carryover,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said Wednesday. “Carryover is always helpful. The more carryover you have to what you’re doing, I think the better chance you have to get good execution.”

To those that suggest Alabama is primed for a letdown at home, Coach Saban dispels that notion, pointing out that the team has been able to carryover a lot of its preparation and gameplanning from the Georgia game. That will certainly help, as the Tide has played much better away from Bryant-Denny, where Alabama has been a slow-starting, error-prone team.

Ripe for the plucking?

Former Razorback QB Stoerner sees weakness in Alabama | FOX Sports

"Alabama has got some holes," Stoerner said, according to 247Sports. "They're giving up about 230 yards per game passing. (QB Jake) Coker is inconsistent at best. He surprised the country coming out the second half against Ole Miss and then did what he did last week against Georgia. But I think Georgia is untested so we really don't know what they were. "So there are some holes that Alabama doesn't typically have. They're still ripe for the picking."

Let's tap the breaks there, Clint. This Razorbacks team is a Costco Georgia -- better quarterbacking, but inferior at every other position on the field. And, with the scads of injuries that have beset the Hogs, I'm not sure where Stoerner sees enough playmakers and gamechangers to swing a road game at night.

Stoerner's analysis of the passing defense also ignores that Alabama's passing defense is skewed by teams having to throw because they are being blown out, the fact that no one can run on Alabama, and that those numbers also include 140 yards in gimmes versus Ole Miss. Sure, there will be some teams and schemes able to exploit Alabama's secondary; Arkansas is not that team.

Drake struggling?

What do Kenyan Drake's struggles mean for Derrick Henry and Alabama offense? |

"Kenyan Drake needs to focus on what he needs to do to be a good player in his preparation," Saban said. "Can't make a home run every time he gets the ball. He's got to trust and believe in the plays the way they're designed and go run those plays and understand that a 3- or 4-yard gain is a good play. And if you do that, then you're going to have a chance to make big plays."

I don't think it's just Drake swinging for the fences, although it's clear that he's trying too hard. I think Drake's diminished production is also defenses keying in to him. With Alabama's receiving corps having inconsistent efforts, Drake is the guy defenses look to stop. That's why Calvin Ridley's coming out party last week was so important, provided he can sustain the production -- this team is need of playmakers on the outside in the worst way.

Rewinding Nick Saban's thoughts on Adam Griffith, O-line, Arkansas |

Saban said of Adam Griffith: "We've always had confidence in Griff. ... I think he needed to make some kicks [to regain confidence]. He's made some." — Saban said tight end O.J. Howard has done a good job blocking. — Saban said senior center Ryan Kelly and redshirt freshman left guard Ross Pierschbacher have probably been Alabama's two most consistent offensive linemen.

Ryan Kelly is the heart and soul of the offensive line, without question. But, Pierschbacher has settled down and is quietly having a very good year, especially on the ground. He's a nasty run-blocker that always gets an extra shove or hit at the whistle (see, UGA.) For an Alabama offensive line that has recently morphed into a more balanced unit, it's excellent to see those throwback guys with the chips on their shoulders.


Tide Tipoff date announced with special musical guest

Alabama men's and women's basketball will host its Tide Tipoff event on Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. CT in Coleman Coliseum, the university announced in a press release Wednesday. The fan-friendly event is open to all students, season ticket holders, faculty and staff, as the Crimson Tide kicks off the 2015-16 season.

“I am honored and excited about joining forces with our women’s basketball program for the 2015 Tide Tipoff event, which is our version of midnight madness,” men’s basketball head coach Avery Johnson said.

Plenty of room on the bandwagon, so climb aboard. Alabama is likely to struggle this season, but we are apt to at least be fun to watch. It's refreshing to see a coach engaged in the community, wanting to excite the fans, and generally giving a damned about this university and town.


Phillip Ely's 'fascinating' journey propels Toledo's 4-0 start

By 2014, Ely finally had a chance to win the starting job. He threw four touchdowns in his debut against New Hampshire. Then, that "one play" happened. Ely suffered a torn ACL the next week against Missouri. Ely also had a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. He knows the dates of the surgeries — Sept. 19, 2014, and Jan. 14, 2015. "None of those things are planned," Ely said. "No one is ever ready for it. To go out there; last year there was a time when it was a goal of mine just to walk around, then run, then take a drop-back pass."

What a great success story for Philip Ely. As the odds are good this Toledo team will not face Alabama, we can root for him from afar. Interestingly, the article notes that Ely learned how to practice and prepare for games while at Alabama, and has brought that work ethic over to the Rockets. #ProcessTheMAC


Duke Williams punched 4 people during rampage at Auburn bar, witnesses say |

"We have had no one come forward and say that Duke Williams assaulted anyone," Auburn Police Chief Paul Register said. Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn declined to detail the reason for Williams' dismissal, or whether another football player was involved. He did say Williams will not continue taking classes at the university.

Buried in the "Duke hit four people" story is that the precipitating act of assault occurred with Williams dumping a drink into a woman's face. He didn't need to be kicked out; he needed to get his ass beat. White Knighting is still okay, fellas.

The funny part of this story is that the incident occurred near last call, in front of an entire crowded bar, where has a gazillion witnesses and AUPD is like "nope, nothing to one technically came forward." Yeah, Skippy, and I'll bet your inquiry was a diligent one.

Speaking of booze

Cheers and Booze at College Stadiums - The New York Times

“All of us in the Group of Five, we really have to work hard to get folks to come” to games, said Dave Nottke, the associate athletic director for development at Toledo, which sells alcohol at home games. Yet a recent paper published in the Journal of Sports Economics “found no evidence” that selling beer at football games affected attendance or revenue.

Many colleges that sell alcohol at games contend that doing so discourages binge drinking by allowing fans to pace themselves. West Virginia’s campus police department reported sharp declines in incident reports and arrests on home football Saturdays from 2010 to 2014.

The long and short of alcohol sales in stands: No, it doesn't increase attendance, but it does increase revenue, which all G5 (and most P5) teams need. Also, as I (and others) have maintained, it's a helluva lot safer to sell some watered-down Keystones than it is to turn a pack of 18 year-olds loose with minis of Jack Daniels. West Virginia, not notably the most genteel fanbase in America, is a good case study in soothing the savage breast.


That's your JP. Go forth to evil.