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Jumbo Package: It May Be Football, But We Are One Month From Frozen Tide Hockey Edition!

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A lot of players are already nicked up, and, as scary as the offseason has been, Alabama hasn't had the worst of the injury bug

SQUEEEE!
SQUEEEE!

Fall Camp

Alabama practice report: Kenyan Drake moving positions again | AL.com

The talented athlete should get reps at both running back and in the slot this season for the Tide. During Wednesday's practice, Drake broke away from the rest of the running backs to work on intermediate to longer routes with the quarterbacks. Not surprisingly, Drake looked natural doing so.

Jake Coker and Blake Barnett especially looked strong throwing the ball across the middle. Coker's long ball has never been a major problem for the strong-armed quarterback, but he showed nice touch on the intermediate throws.

True story. A brain-dead Gump on Twitter tried to fight me when I said that Drake would play slot receiver and was not strictly a running back. He wanted to know "where I got that shit from," and I had to explain, "well, our coaching staff." This does bring up an interesting question when Drake goes pro: Do you take him as an athlete, a KR/PR/3rd down guy OR do you draft him as a project WR with the expectation that he can move to the backfield if needed?

In good news, the quarterback play was much improved. The bad news? True Freshman Blake Barnett was the other bright spot, not David Cornwell.

How Reuben Foster fixed his tackling technique in time for bigger role | AL.com

The high school tapes show him destroying undersized running backs, quarterbacks or anyone else unfortunate enough to face Foster head on. He was a one-man wrecking ball out there, but more often than not his head was down .... "I think Rueben's first practice and how he picked it up he looked like a guy lost," Smart said last August. "He could run fast, play hard, didn't know what he was doing all the time."

He terrifies us every time he lowers that big ole' meathead to lower the boom. Yes, he hits like Cathy Bates' sledgehammer, but we all want him to see what he's hitting. Foster's tackling "technique" goes back to what so many coaches (and fans) are saying, fundamentals are just not being taught at the lower levels these days.

Alabama defenders trying to measure up to own standard | College Football

Defenses, including Alabama's, have been forced to adapt. Smart, entering his ninth season running the Tide defense, said Alabama's 2011 defense, which shut out LSU in the national championship game, faced five run-pass option plays. Alabama encountered more than 120 last season, he said. "Obviously the game has changed, the teams we're playing have changed, and we've had to evolve with it," Smart said.

That's amazing: in just three seasons the number of read-option plays increased by a factor of 60. And, while Saban and Co. have tried to recruit to adapt to the changing offense, defenses are going to be increasingly behind the eight-ball filling special talent needs...and that assumes that even if the players were on hand, the defenses had a meaningful opportunity to substitute of their own accord. Hell, even hockey, which is punitive regarding substitutions lets the team not in possession substitute on the fly.

Accolades

SEC Nation names Tim Tebow's replacement

“Greg impressed us in studio last year with his passion for the conference and his knowledge of the game,” said Stephanie Druley, ESPN senior vice president in a press release. “He brings a wealth of X&O’s acumen, and deep knowledge of the history and traditions of the conference, to the analyst role.”

You can tell when the Ginger Avenger is on-camera that he does his homework, is knowledgeable, and loves the Xs and Ox of being a studio analyst. I always figured Greg would be bound for coaching one day, and it still may happen, but, with this promotion, the SEC Nation road show just got a lot smarter. McElroy is substantively one of the best on the SEC network already. Once he masters his screen presence and ass-grab jovial banter that is seemingly requred on the Ocho (and finds suits to match his unfortunate hair/skin tone) he'll be one of the all-around best studio analysts period.

Coaching giants: Our All-SEC coaching staff for 2015

Nick Saban, Alabama (head coach) — A master at his craft and one of college football’s all-time greats, Saban is a no-brainer to lead our cast of all-stars. He can handle egos (Lane Kiffin), knows how to win big games and is rarely out-coached from an Xs and Os standpoint. Give me one season with elite personnel and this staff? Saban will get it done.

Okay, it was kind of artificial -- the rules were set up to create a spread team that also ran a 4-3 defense. But, apparently even the writers know that Saban could still master the game withing those limitations and kick ass.

How To Beat Alabama: All-Access Look At Preparing For The Tide - SBNation.com

Alabama doesn’t let you just take shots. Those guys are aggressive, you need to make double moves. I don’t see a lot of their guys just open from flat-out route running. We’ll have to find ways to get maximum protection, but that’s the thing, I think so many people are caught up in just … you know … Saban’s defense … and Alabama this and that, they think you don’t have time even if you might. You’ll have time, but you just have to execute when you do. The beauty of them is, they can rush four and drop seven guys back. And that’s what hurts you more than anything, because there’s not a lot of windows to throw the ball in. I think that’s what hurts you more than anything. Guys have time, they just make a bad decision."

Speaking of limitations, yesterday Roscoe (IIRC) posted a link to this: what Willie Taggart and the Hilltoppers did to prep for Alabama in 2012. WKU was a very good team (won the SBC that season, in fact) so Saban wasn't sandbagging, and, to be honest, WKU knew that they could cause some fits for the Tide. If you recall that game, it was the closest 35-0 victory you'll ever see. Great game plan by WKU, they were just so incredibly outmanned (and, Saban had a great game plan of his own.) Good long-form read. I recommend taking an extended lunch break for this one.

Freaks Week: Top 25 'Freaks' in college football for 2015: Nos. 20-16 | FOX Sports

19. Tony Brown, Alabama, CB: The 20-year-old sophomore doesn’t just have some of the best hairstyles in college football (see below); he’s also one of the fastest hurdlers in the country. Before arriving in Tuscaloosa, Brown ran a personal best of 13.38 in the 110 hurdles at the Texas Relays in 2013, the top time in the country that year. In January, Brown won the 60-meter hurdles title at the Vanderbilt Invitational with a time of 7.89 seconds. A few months back, the 6-foot, 195-pounder earned First Team All-America status by running the lead leg for the Tide’s 4x100-meter relay team that finished eighth at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Oregon.

On the most athletic team in the country, Brown is arguably the most athletic player for the Tide. In fact, he is probably the best pure athlete to suit up for the Tide since Javier Arenas.

Playoffs

Who gets left out of playoff in 2015? Jerry Palm offers his projection | AL.com

Palm's projections for the CFP semifinals have Auburn facing TCU in the Cotton Bowl and Ohio State meeting Clemson in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Eve. "The Pac-12 is absent from these projections, in part, due of that depth," Palm wrote. "Combine strong teams at the top (Oregon, USC) with the rest of the South division, which is especially good, and you have a conference that may make it difficult for its top teams to post a good enough record to compete for a playoff spot.

I can see Palm's reasoning here: The P12 (particularly the South) is a very tough conference, only slightly trailing the SEC. But, by implication, Pals is saying that there may be three or four 10-2 type teams, but no one squad strong enough to run the conference. And, this is what separates the SEC from the Pac 12. The SEC has always had two or three with an argument in December to play for a national title (and, cough, that team is usually...cough Georgia...again.)

Now, as far as the Auburn love goes, Palm and CBS repeat what must be the laziest analysis of the off-season. They syllogism goes something like this. 1. GERS MALZERHN!  2. BOOM MO'FO! 3. JER'MEE JERNSERN! HE'S CAM VERSION 3.0! /.: PROFIT!

My dog is so incredibly unimpressed by that logic. In fact, while most pooches return to their own vomit, Freyja can't help herself -- she finds herself recycles college football "analysis."

TCU, Baylor know how Big 12 can avoid another playoff snub

The last of Oklahoma's eight Big 12 titles was in 2012 — making this the first time in coach Bob Stoops' 17 seasons that the Sooners have gone consecutive years without a conference championship. Three of their four league losses last year were by a combined eight points. Take care of things early this season, and the Sooners could be set up for a run at a ninth title in November, when they play Baylor and TCU in consecutive games.

The geniuses in America's Meth Belt have a stunning path to playoff success: Win all 12 games. Well, that's well and good but 1. It's round robin, only one can do so (if then,) 2. Every other major contender will have to face 13 games. 3. I have a suspicion that the forgotten Sooners are going to wreck someone's dreams this year. Best guess? TCU. But, hell, with back to back games, and assuming no gaffes, OU could easily be in the playoff hunt. They have the name cache, they have the OOC schedule (traveling to an SEC team,) and frankly everyone loves to hear Art Briles whine.

Speaking of awful

Report: Tennessee WR to undergo MRI on Thursday

According to a report by Brad Matthews at SportsRadioKnoxville, Tennessee wide receiver Marquez North is feared lost for the season. The report, citing sources, said that North went down with a “serious, non-contact injury to his leg” and had trouble putting any weight on his leg after the injury. North’s MRI reportedly is scheduled for Thursday morning. Tennessee also abruptly cancelled the scheduled media availability for Thursday morning.

As JTad and I were talking this morning, Pearson gets the pub, but North was the playmaker on the outside. That leaves Dobbs reliant upon an old face to generate plays, Pig Howard.

After inheriting mess, Bielema has Hogs believing they 'absolutely can' win it all | NCAA Football | Sporting News

When Bielema arrived, players were flunking out, missing class and changing majors to find the easiest roads to staying eligible. There was a saying within the football team: “Ds get degrees.”

“I worked in the academic advisement office when I first got here, and what I saw, frankly, was shocking,” says Aaron Henry, a former All-Big Ten defensive back at Wisconsin under Bielema and current Arkansas graduate assistant coach. “Our academic report was horrendous. We had a bunch of guys with sub-par GPAs, guys who wouldn’t go to tutoring appointments, who wouldn’t even push a button to log in to the system. They couldn’t even do that.”

The response from Bielema was simple: you don’t go to class, you don’t play. You miss tutoring appointments, you don’t play — and you pay back the cost of the appointment.

Man, as a fan of the sport, you have to love what BERT is doing in Fayetteville. As for Arkansas, "Ds get degrees" is the most pitiful thing I've heard from a major university since I read that many Ivy Leagues aren't even handing out degrees any more. SMH at you, Arkansas, everyone knows that Cs are what you aim for, and if you game the Sociology department, you can churn out 85 Emile Durkheims per year...just ask...well, you know.

Absolutely awful. Just so...so very Auburn.

Blech.

Finally!

Friday was my birthday. I received an absolutely gorgeous Alabama Frozen Tide sweater (jersey for those of you who hate our freedoms.) So, I wanted to flash it off to Coach Quenneville, and get an idea of when the season starts..and, man, it is soooo close.

We have hockey in one month, as Alabama steps up to ACHA-Division One, opening its season versus the West Virginian Mountaineers!