Practice notes: Not much of note
Not much of note in here, sad to say, unless you want to count the guys with injuries of the nagging, worrisome variety: Robert Foster (knee,) Jacob Coker (foot,) Kenyan Drake (hamstring,) Chris Black (ankle,) as well as Cam Rob's treasured trunk.
The Crimson Tide defenders lined up in what appeared to be its dime formation toward the end of the viewing periods, and the movement continues for the secondary. The corners were Cyrus Jones and Marlon Humphrey, the safeties were Geno Smith and Eddie Jackson, the two extra DBs were Maurice Smith and Minkah Fitzpatrick and the Mack linebacker was Reuben Foster.
The most interesting news from the Tide's indoor practice yesterday was the dime formation, where Hump was lined opposite Cyrus, rather than Tony Brown, who I think most expected to win the opposite job. Freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick saw action in the dime package as well. We all expect Minkah to see the field on special teams and in extra DB packages, as many Tide greats of the past decade have. While a safety in high school, it is anticipated that Fitzpatrick will eventually transition to corner. Still, his talent is such that you don't waste a redshirt year on him with Alabama's secondary solidifying and being reborn.
I [want to] play faster and stay in the game longer," said Reed, whose 55 total tackles were the most by a Tide defensive lineman since Wallace Gilberry in 2007. "The game is changing a lot. Weight is a real big issue. ... At a smaller weight, it's really better because you're faster, you're lighter, you're more mobile."
It's simple: the production fell off last season and it wasn't just Jarran Reed, it was also A'Shawn Robinson and Darren Lake. With a front that goes legitimately 10-deep, everyone wants to see the field longer.
Shea believes Cornwell has the skills to be Alabama's starter -- he's smart, accurate and efficient as a passer-- but stressed to his young pupil he needed to do something special to beat presumed favorite Jake Coker. "You've got to be able to demonstrate some wow throws where the coach goes 'Wow, that's special,'" Shea said. "We tried to make sure he understood those wow throws had to be part of his presentation during practice at some point without forcing the ball."
It hasn't happened to date. And, you can rest assured that if Saban has a choice between an upperclassman and a youngster, he'll take age and maturity any day, unless sheer talent is just so disparate that there's no choice (say hi, AJ McCarron.)
For the second year in a row, Alabama led the nation in Academic All-American honors in 2014-15, tallying a dozen accolades, one off the school-record set in 2013-14, including Lauren Beers (at-large/gymnastics), Emily Zabor (at-large/women's tennis), Anton McKee (at-large/men's swimming and diving), Connor Oslin (at-large/men's swimming and diving), Arie Kouandjio (football), Merel van Dongen (soccer), Laura Lee Smith (soccer), Sierra Wilson (volleyball), Krystal Rivers (volleyball), Levi Randolph (men's basketball), Haylie McCleney (softball) and Nia Barnes (women's track and field/cross country) Barnes, Beers and McCleney all earned the honor for the second time while Randolph became the first men's basketball player to earn Academic All-America honors in Alabama history.
Another amazing year for Tide athletes in the classroom, highlighted by the first Basketball Academic All-American in Alabama history, and two-time all-All Americans Haylie McCleney (softball) and Lauren Beers (gymnastics.)
Inside linebacker Nico Johnson didn't start the Cincinnati Bengals' preseason opener against the New York Giants. But did he ever do a lot of finishing on Friday night. Johnson recorded nine tackles in anchoring the Bengals' defensive backups during Cincinnati's 23-10 victory. The former Andalusia High School star also made a tackle on special teams and knocked away a pass.
Think about this: Nico Johnson, who struggled to get past other ILBs on Alabama rosters for consistent starts, may actually have less competition in the NFL.
Alabama men’s basketball team's first road game will also be its first national broadcast of the season. The Crimson Tide will make its first ever appearance on the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon when it plays at Dayton on Tuesday, Nov. 17. The Flyers and Crimson Tide will square off at noon CT on ESPN, according to a UA Athletics release.
A lot of firsts here. Alabama, for the first time, will be part of ESPN's 24 straight hours of hoops coverage, with its opener vs. Dayton on Nov. 17th. It will be the Tide's first game of the season, and its first on the road.
Gross. Gross. Gross.
Typical air raid innovations. But there's more. Not only do quarterbacks have post-snap run-pass options, but so do receivers and running backs. For instance, say Pulaski runs a jet sweep with an H-back/slot receiver type as the base play. Kelley and his offensive staff identify a pure athlete with decent throwing ability who is also a good receiver, put him in the slot, and then give him a run-pass option when he gets the ball. The line protects the receiver like he's the quarterback; after he gets the ball, he reads the unblocked outside linebacker with the option to run it on the base jet sweep, throw a bubble screen, or throw to another receiver on a go-route. This puts the play-side corner in a bad situation, defending against multiple horizontal and vertical threats to his side of the field. But leaving the outside linebacker unblocked also allows the line to add a double team elsewhere.
You need to read the two background articles linked in the above article on the no-punt offense of Arkansas' Pulaski Academy. Up next from the state that gave you A-11 and Gus Malzahn, is the concept of continuing laterals down the field a la rugby. This is not so much a new concept as a very, very old one.Yet, when combined with air raid principles it leaves me yelling at children to get off my lawn.