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Jumbo Package: Friday, 6 February 2015

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Your daily dose of Alabama links and quotes and absolutely no other smart-alack text in this summary box.

To the 6-yard downfield blocking, add holding. This crap seems to be going away

Alabama "links and quotes" (language required per my secret pact with Todd)

Vanderbilt bounces Alabama women's basketball from SEC Tournament | TuscaloosaNews.com

The Alabama women’s basketball team lost its opening round game at the 2015 Southeastern Conference Tournament to Vanderbilt, 66-56, on Wednesday night at Verizon Arena. With the loss, the Crimson Tide ends its season with a 13-19 overall record.

You won't believe me, but this team is getting better. 13-19 rarely spells optimism, but the Lady Tide are a very young team learning the ropes in a sport that, like few other, is so drastically marked by the haves and have-nots.

Alabama gymnastics tinkering with the lineup | TuscaloosaNews.com

"I think being able to go on the road to Missouri, we may be in a position to be able to put some new faces in there, a little adding to our depth, trying a few things and then turning around and having a podium meet experience on Sunday, which will allow us to get experience prior to SECs and prior to the NCAA which is also on podium..."

This past week's gym recap posited that we may see a revamped lineup, and, true to form, it is happening. Note: The Mizzou Tigers are ranked 24th. However, their RPI is sitting in the 40s, and, in gymnastics, No. 24 may as well be No. 102. It's as good a time to experiment as any.

The Crimson White :: :: Alabama softball utilizes slap hitting

Speed is paramount in softball. With only 60 feet between bases, it can be difficult to safely outrun a throw to first on a ground ball. Often, left-handers employ a tactic called slap hitting where the batter gets a running start when the ball is hit. All she has to do is change direction instead of having to start running and change direction.

Very cool article on Alabama's use of the small ball. Although the article doesn't really go into depth about it, slap hitting is often used in tandem with slug bunting (Alabama does so a great deal.) Trust me, read this and you'll understand. Still, a nice story to read for those of you interested in Pat Murphy's thought process and how to manufacture runs.

Spring Notes

Quarterbacks, coaches, coordinators dominate spring stories | College Football

So while acknowledging that spring football often provides few definitive answers, a look at some of the most interesting story lines from around the nation.

Interestingly enough, Alabama's QB situation is not mentioned as a big one. That's fine with me, too. Keep your powder dry and let the national rags churn out 700-word puff pieces on Ohio State's QB issues (and, they will be an issue too, at least in the background of Columbus. I have no idea how you keep two legitimate Heisman players and option 2A, who had the Buckeyes' three biggest wins, all happy in an inmate-running-the-asylum program that Meyer notoriously runs.)

Alabama Football: Crimson Tide's Defensive Line Can Be Historically Good in 2015 | Bleacher Report

Alabama finished the season No. 1 in adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders, and the unit ranked in the top 10 in six of Football Outsiders’ nine defensive line metrics.

The defensive line will be absolutely sick (again,) and, I actually have more faith in the linebackers this season than last --the inside, certainly, is more athletic. Those are good things, because the secondary has more question marks than the Riddler's spandex, particularly at safety and opposite Cyrus Jones.

Florence LB Erroll Thompson says Michigan recruiting him hardest, Alabama 'really fired up about me' | AL.com

Thompson is expected to shift to a middle linebacker this spring, and if he excels there, the Alabama offer could come. He said Smart plans on visiting Florence to watch Thompson work out at some point. "Really, they want to see me inside more," Thompson said. "They told me they like the way I play. I'm physical, fast, they told me I play the game right way and I'm a guy they're looking for, but they just want to see more at inside linebacker."

One of the recurring themes of this early 2016 recruiting class has been edge rushers and depth on the defensive line. Alabama has a wealth of unproven talent on the inside, but many of those guys will move on in '16 and '17 (or, to date, have yet to pan out.) This is definitely a look-ahead prospect.

How Will Muschamp returns SEC West-worthy defense to Auburn - SBNation.com

The SEC West offenses that like to spread the field and attack weak spots will find that more difficult, with Muschamp attacking their reduced protections with elite athletes and overload blitz schemes. Auburn has upgraded in a way that will make it a nightmare for opposing coaches.

Speaking of front-sevens compensating for the secondary, the Mothership tries to make us a believer in Will Muschamp. As far as edge rush goes, I have all the faith in the world that he will be just as successful (I'm not sold on the interior of that defense, though.) However, the secondary may be in worse shape than Alabama. The above article notes the improved Jimmies and Joes Auburn recruited in the secondary; however, it omits the fact that most of these guys are 5'10"-5'11". In today's game, as we have seen with even Cyrus Jones' excellent coverage, you can't coach height. Look for this to be a recurring problem on the Plains, as well as general first-year breakdowns that happen with a new defensive coordinator and scheme. Not like this one-year snapshot particular matters ; I don't expect Muschamp to be in Auburn longer than one season. He will get another shot, and sooner rather than later.

Rules (and rule breaking)

Gus Malzahn: Rule change will stunt scoring - SEC Blog - ESPN

"This will hurt the high school coaches, too, because a lot of those guys are running the same stuff," Malzahn said. "Those of us coaching in college who came from high school understand how important this is and how much it will change the game. "Scoring will be down. You’re not going to see teams scoring as many points, and when it’s getting harder all the time to get fans to come to games, is that something that college football wants? [emphasis added]"

So, let's recap Gus' latest Jeremiad: enforcing a one-yard buffer that existed for decades hurts fellow high school coaches (it didn't for 50 years,) rattles off a parade of horribles about reduced attendance (a non sequitur,) and fears it will result in lowered scoring since defenses can actually play their side of the ball (it will,) and then asks "is that something college football wants?" You bet your ass it is, Gus.

Is rule proposal on linemen downfield too far afield?

In a text message, [Rules Committee Chairman, Air Force Head Coach Troy] Calhoun noted that in a survey of FBS coaches conducted last month, only two issues received a majority of support. He said "around 80 percent" of coaches were in favor of expanding instant replay review on onside kicks — and 57% approved of altering the rule on linemen downfield."

Per Chris Lowe, this one has been sent back to the Rules Committee for additional comment, but, with almost 60% of coaches in favor, Malzahn, Freeze and the A-11 crowd see the writing on the wall.

Charlie Strong explains how dismissed players kicked themselves off team | For The Win

Now, some people don’t want to hear the message. And then when they decide that they want to run their own program, then I tell them, ‘You know what? This may not be the place for you. There’s other schools that would love to have you

I love you, Charlie. Compared to your Red River counterpart, there are definite White- and Black-Hats in this age-old feud again.

Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon will play in spring practice, not spring game - CBSSports.com

Mixon was charged with one misdemeanor count of an act resulting in gross injury for his role in an altercation with another OU student in July 2014. According to the affidavit of probable cause, the freshman running back and Amelia Rae Molitor, 20, were engaged in a verbal and physical altercation at Pickelman's Gourmet Cafe in Norman, Okla. [Ed. Note: this is legalese for a plea deal for badly beating a woman.]

Stoops also told the media that linebacker Frank Shannon, suspended for one year by the school after a Title IX sexual assault investigation, will not be in spring practice but is expected to join the team in May.

Why did I say there are white/black hats in the RRR? Add Dorial Green-Beckham to this rogue's gallery, and the past two seasons has seen Norman become a penal farm for some truly disgusting behavior towards women.

Miscellany

"It comes down to you": Inside the dream (and nightmare) of kickers

"I hope they pull your scholarship" and "I hope you die," to "I hope the team ties you up in the locker room and beats you," in much more colorful language.

Depressing to see death threats and verbal diarrhea towards a 21-year old college kid for missing a field goal aren't just the province of one vocal minority of uncouth idiots. Seriously, slow your roll, people (collectively that is, not you beautiful, sane people:) college sports are passionate, yes. But, at the end of the day, they are just that, games.

Former Gamecock Sidney Rice will donate brain to science for concussion study | Football | Go Gamecocks

Rice retired from the Seattle Seahawks this past July at the age of 27 over worries about the long-term effects of absorbing so many blows to the head. Rice said he had at least 10 concussions since he was 8 years old.

The jury is pretty well out on football and concussive effects, as well as what those long-term effects are. A 27-year old former pro retiring at the peak of life, and donating his brain to the cause, is both laudable and likely unnecessary at this point. I hate to put on the jaded lawyer hat for a second, but this seems as much posturing for the second bout of NFL concussion lawsuits (and the pending NCAA one) as anything. Feel free to call me an asshole since I have serious doubts about any form of altruism that is accompanied by fanfare and press conferences.

Finally

Nebraska police find pot inside container labeled 'Not Weed' - Yahoo News

Officers found the plastic sour cream container during a search of his car, and the driver acknowledged that the pot belonged to him.

This is absolutely, 100%, positively not weed. Okay, it may be weed.