There are plenty of reasons not to give in to the natural instinct to panic about who's going to start under center when Alabama opens the season Sept. 5 against Wisconsin. The best reason of all is the guy whose job it is to get the quarterbacks ready for that game and beyond. Time and again, at one job after another, Kiffin has proved himself as one of the best quarterback coaches in the business. He did some of his finest work a year ago in his first season at Alabama.
We've been talking about this for a while, but it bears repeating. Alabama fans probably shouldn't worry too much about the quarterback position with Kiffin at the helm. Anybody who can make Jonathan Crompton look like a competent SEC signal-caller should be able to do wonders with the talent at his disposal.
Saban, who entered the room a few minutes earlier and has been wandering around sans salmon coat, walks over to Smart and the defensive group with a disgusted look on his face.
"You know what the lady [ESPN sideline reporter Shannon Spake] just asked me?" he says looking at his players. "'Are you concerned about the defense?'"
"I am. I AM!" Smart replies. "Lack of effort. Lack of toughness."Saban's words hang in the air for a few heartbeats as he looks at his players' faces.
As Saban leaves, Smart goes onto implore his defense to "create an identity in the second half."
Considering all the turnovers in the second half, something obviously changed. This little motivational speech is probably as good an explanation as any. Lots of interesting stuff in here about the locker room environment on Saturday.
Exiting the spring, Foster was starting when the defense was in the nickel formation while Hamilton was first-team with the regular defense. For A-Day, Foster played with the first-team and Hamilton went with the second team. And in the season, Saban said the vast majority of snaps were taken in nickel or dime coverage in which extra defensive backs are used.
The 2014 linebacker unit struggled all too often in pass coverage. Reuben certainly has the speed to be able to run with tight ends, hopefully he and Dillon Lee can provide an answer.
The combination of Altee Tenpenny's transfer, Tyren Jones' dismissal and Scarbrough's injury has created an increased opportunity for playing time for young running backs such as Clark and freshmen Damien Harris and DeSherrius Flowers. Another injury -- one suffered by Flowers during Alabama's A-Day game Saturday -- gave Clark another opportunity, making the Calera native one of only two healthy running backs on the Crimson team roster for the majority of the game -- and the only one aside from walk-on Brandon Turner.
Clark had a nice day catching the ball out of the backfield Saturday, piling up seven receptions for 40 yards. He is often a forgotten man when discussing Alabama RBs, but don't be surprised if the 6'2" 228 lb. redshirt freshman carves out a niche playing the Roy Upchurch role as a third-down specialist, possibly even shifting to H-Back at some point as Jalston Fowler did.
"We had a competition going on [Saturday]," linebacker Reggie Ragland said. "Coach Smart was like, 'Whoever gets a turnover or an interception or anything can run over and take the belt, and whoever gets a pick on the other team gets [to go] over there and brings it back." Ragland, linebacker Dillon Lee and cornerback Tony Brown were among the players to win the belt during the spring.
Watching those guys chase that belt Saturday was fun, and it was evident that they were having fun doing it. If a championship belt is what it takes to get our defensive backs to break on the football, then so be it.
Now hoping to catch on with an NFL team, Sims plans to bring the same dedication that propelled him to heights no Alabama fan expected of him just last season. "I just hope that somebody gives me an opportunity to play on a team, to show I’m a team player and I’m willing to do whatever I’ve got to do," Sims said.
Nice piece about a guy who will forever be a fan favorite in Tuscaloosa. Hope he gets his opportunity.
Harris, a 6-foot-9 forward from Long Island, averaged 9.9 points and 4.0 rebounds this past season. His minutes and production were inconsistent during the second half of the season, as he scored two or fewer points in three of his final five games.
Good old Roger told us about this transfer last week, about the time news was breaking that Coach Avery Johnson had hired assistant Bob Simon away from Providence. Simon apparently recruited Harris for the Friars and will undoubtedly make an effort to get him to the Capstone. He has graduated and will be eligible immediately to play his final season. We could certainly use a solid big man.
The best collection of freshmen next season won't be at Duke or Kentucky, it'll be at LSU. The Tigers were primed for a big season even before the addition of Sampson, but the four-star guard likely pushes LSU past Arizona, Duke, Michigan State and anyone else in recruiting rankings. 247 Sports already has declared the Tigers own the top recruiting class.
LSU and Auburn each brought in monster recruiting classes. Coach Johnson certainly has his work cut out for him, but I think he has what it takes to get it done.
THIS WEEK #6/7 Alabama vs. Troy Tuscaloosa, Ala. - Rhoads Stadium Tuesday, April 21 - 6 p.m. CT THE TIDE ON THE AIR TV: SEC Network + (Online Only) PXP: Mick Gillispie, Color: Lauren Sewell Radio: 95.3 FM (953thebear.com) *streaming audio also available on RadioPup app*
Alabama returns home to the Hoover Met this Tuesday for a midweek doubleheader with Mississippi Valley State. The Crimson Tide and Delta Devils are scheduled for a 2 p.m. CT start in the first game of the afternoon, with the second contest scheduled to start 30 minutes following the final out of game one.
This young man has been raised right.