There is a theme this season already developing, and it is simply that the best player will play, even if it disrupts units from last season or may leave Alabama facing similar questions in 2016. I'm not saying Saban is pressing, but he seems determined to worry at this bone until every piece of marrow is gone. Given some of the complacency we saw at the end of 2013 and 2014, that's not a bad thing.
Competition, Not Continuity.
...the possibility of not having to replace their starting quarterback for a third straight year and molding a potential long-term option at the position will not be a factor when coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin decide the winner of Alabama's ongoing quarterback competition. Even if the competition is close between a younger player and Coker, the best option for this season will be tabbed as this year's starter, Saban said Sunday at Alabama's Media Day.
It won't matter at QB.
There is less certainty at the offensive line headed into the 2015 season than the program is accustomed. Robinson and center Ryan Kelly are good bets to be starters again, but Alabama needs to replace left guard Arie Kouandjio, right guard Leon Brown and right tackle Austin Shepherd. In those three, Alabama lost 66 career starts. Through five fall practices, Bradley Bozeman, Dominick Jackson and Ross Pierschbacher have primarily worked with the first team in drills
...and it won't matter on the offensive line. There is one lesson here: no one has a spot.
I threw up in my mouth a little
Wearing a harness to protect his left shoulder, Alabama sophomore cornerback Tony Brown went through the Tide's practice Monday afternoon. Brown was hurt during Alabama's practice Sunday, heading to the locker room in obvious pain along with a trainer after a collision with wide receiver Robert Foster.
If there was absolutely one area outside of LT (and, hey, look what happened there!) that could not be replaced, it was a competent corner opposite Cyrus. By all accounts, Tony Brown has had a great spring and a good fall. So, imagine the horror on my face when this was the first thing I saw at midnight.
Worse, the Tide steps into pads for full contact today.
Last year's Rose and Sugar semifinals were on New Year's Day and brought in massive TV ratings, but because the Rose and Sugar can't be budged from those spots, they're now just pretty big bowls that happen to get better time slots than the actual semifinals. This, according to College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, will not be a problem for viewers in any way. "I really feel like we're going to change the culture of New Year's Eve in the country," he has said. "People are going to have to have television sets at their New Year's Eve parties."
New Year's Eve. Really? Bill Hancock is absolutely wrong on this one. Very few bars have televisions chillin' on NYE, a night traditionally associated with live music, DJs, outdoor festivities (and amateur demolitions,) etc. There is also the small matter that it is just rude to host/go to a party and spend 7 hours hiding with the television. Spencer however is right: for many people, this broadcast schedule will mean fewer people out and about, not more televisions at parties.
FWIW, as a geezer I tend to think NYE is one of the most disappointingly awful holidays anyway. Bear with me: the bars are clotted with amateur drinkers, the roads are a Thunderdome of rookie/elderly/White Girl Wasted drunk drivers, mistletoe creeps lurk near every hallway, shitty fireworks abound, if you're a woman you have to buy or find a dress, and we all have to listen to tedious Resolutions (no, you're not exercising this year) and worse toasts. Everyone is crappy, you're going home alone, you'll squabble with someone, the weather is tur'ble in 2/3rd of the country. And, it's expensive. Trust me, you're better off at home disappointing your family, friends, lovers, and/or pets for free or at a discounted rate. Now, we have an excuse to do so.
The most Auburn thing in the history of Auburn
Sen. Whatley's resolution, which has six Senate co-sponsors, urged Auburn to claim championships in 1910, 1913, 1914, 1958, 1983, 1993 and 2004. "The Auburn football team also proved itself to be the best team in the nation in 1910, 1914, 1958, and 2004," the resolution states. "All nine of these special seasons are held close in the hearts of Auburn coaches, players, and fans and should be embraced by the university as championship seasons."
LOLZ. For double lolz, check out select portions of the resolution.
WHEREAS, the Auburn football team also proved itself to be the best team in the nation in 1910, 1914, 1958, and 2004.
Wow, revisionist much? Just like USC can't whine about 2003, Auburn can't whine about 2004. The BCS was the system in place. The SEC and Auburn signed off on that agreement. And, if undefeated is the calculus that Auburn wants to use, then the 2004 Utah Utes would like a word before Auburn crowns themselves as People's Champion for that season.
Now, I'm not sure what's more Auburn: suddenly adding on five national titles or attempting to gain yet another advantage, this time through uniforms that are only legal because the NCAA regs can't keep up with how fast teams like Auburn work to actively cheat.
Today's example comes via the new UnderArmor uniforms worn by Auburn, among others. As Cincinnati's website explains:
This incredible new football jersey is built with Armourgrid technology—the strongest, lightest, most durable fabric in the game. Inspired by the engineering in reinforced concrete, Under Armour created it for one reason: to make players ungrabbable on gameday. The result: THEY CAN’T HOLD YOU. THEY CAN’T STOP YOU.
That's right; it's Teflon for jerseys. Like crop top and tight rolled jerseys (both illegal,) these tightly-bloused and chemically-enhanced unis prevent a defensive player from gaining purchase on the cloth during a tackle. The advantage is probably more apparent on defensive line players and wide receivers. Whether or not these perform as advertised, and whether or not it is noticeable will remain to be seen. But, you can't help but marvel that Auburn and a school coached by an Auburn "legend" are the testing grounds for them.
Speaking of Auburn
Malzahn declined to answer reporters' questions on Williams' status, saying twice, "I'll tell you when he gets back." Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson also had little to say about the suspension but said that it "hasn't been a distraction and we won't let it be a distraction." "That's not my responsibility," Johnson said. "I'm just leaving that to him and coach but I feel really good about all the other receivers."
Ruh-roh. If you're playing at home, Auburn now has four returning offensie starters, including gaping, woeful questions all over that line. If Duke is gone, Auburn's WR depth is functionally 25 year-old Melvin Ray and utility senior Ricardo Louis as the wideouts. Still, I think the running game should be fine, and, let's face it, that's how Auburn was always going to win.
University of Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones didn’t find his name among 42 candidates on the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s best defensive back. "I’m not going to say disrespected, but, I mean, it is kind of disappointing," Jones said. "Me just being a competitor and knowing what I can do as a player, I do feel like I don’t get the respect sometimes. But it just adds extra motivation to me." Jones was a second-team All-SEC selection last year. There are three other defensive backs who were first- or second-team selections on the AP’s 2014 All-SEC teams; all three were on the Thorpe watch list.
NBD, Cyrus will just be All-SEC again, and he will play on Sunday, but not even mentioned for a watch list? My dog could suit up and be on a watch list. You have to wonder if the national disrespect here has something to do with the shady play of Alabama's defense last season.
Who said it was bad? Kirby Smart himself.
"We’re trying to improve in a lot of areas," Smart said. "Did not have the kind of season that we’re used to, standard-wise at the University of Alabama." Those standards include four measurements: turnovers, big plays allowed, third down efficiency and red zone efficiency. By those standards, Smart said, last year was the worst in his seven seasons as defensive coordinator.
Not good. If "competition, not continuity" is the players' motto this year, then "never again" seems to be ringing in the coaching staff's ears.
Finally, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus: Nick Saban's fall camps get it done.
Good stuff from (gasp) Scarbo
As further evidence that no one does fall camp right quite like Saban, Kirby Smart and company, consider their incredible record during the first month of the season. Alabama has won its last 30 games in August and September. Only two of those 30 victories have been decided by fewer than 10 points: Alabama 24, Arkansas 20 in 2010 and Alabama 49, Texas A&M 42 in 2013. The last time Alabama lost an August/September game, it dropped two straight during Saban's first season: FSU 21, Alabama 14 on Sept. 29, 2007, and Georgia 26, Alabama 23 the week before in overtime. Overall, Alabama is 33-2 in August/September games under Saban.
September Nash'nul Champeens, Pawwwwl!