Happy Monday, everyone. We’re down to twelve days before the Peach Bowl, and Alabama is working in the “camp” portion of bowl practice, a chance to work on some deficiencies (cough, passing game, cough) and also to see which young players are ready to take a step forward going into the spring. Let’s just hope we can get to spring without having any young DBs forced into action:
-- Cornerback Tony Brown did some work during a couple of individual drills. But when the defense lined up in its nickel formation, freshman Shyheim Carter was lined up at the star position. Brown has been dealing with a muscle pull, according to head coach Nick Saban.
-- There was still no sign of defensive lineman Dakota Ball, who shot his finger during a hunting accident and hasn't been participating since Alabama returned to practice Friday.
Saban doesn’t sound too concerned about Brown or Humphrey with two weeks to heal, but it’s still a bit disconcerting to see two of the top three CBs dealing with injuries. Washington isn’t likely to have any more luck running the football on Alabama than the SEC teams had, but Jake Browning has some dangerous playmakers on the outside.
The hope is that Sarkisian, who tutored Carson Palmer to the Heisman Trophy at USC and revamped Washington’s offense into one of the best in the Pac-12, will continue that level of success.
In fact, in terms of continuity, Saban couldn’t have done any better than Sarkisian, who got his start under Pete Carroll, just like Kiffin. The offense shouldn’t go through any noticeable changes and, as Saban said, “players are comfortable with people they know.” Sarkisian doesn’t need to get to know freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts’ strengths and weaknesses because he has been analyzing them for months.
This really couldn’t have worked out better for all parties involved. If Kiffin was going to leave anyway, Sarkisian offers the smoothest transition imaginable.
Though there’s no doubt Washington has multiple players who could start for Alabama and will be successful in the NFL, especially on the defense, the Huskies simply haven’t recruited the same caliber of athletes. It’s also worth noting that just a year ago, on the same day Alabama arrived in Dallas to get ready for the Cotton Bowl, Washington was wrapping up a 7-6 season with a victory against Southern Miss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl
In other words, there’s a reason Las Vegas has made Alabama a two-touchdown favorite.
(Why are you better equipped now to face a team with elite personnel than you were in the loss to USC?) “One thing when you experience success … when you experience a fallback like that, or a loss, that’s one thing you never want to feel again. That pretty much made everyone work harder, focus more on the details, and pretty much just hone in to what you’ve really got to do. I know going into that week, they gameplanned really well against us, and as far as now, everybody has this period in time where they’re gameplanning and doing the best thing they can. So we’re focused on what we messed up throughout the season, fixing that, and just going forward into our gameplan.”
Everyone focuses on the USC game since the Trojans have the closest thing to an Alabama roster in that conference. It isn’t just that USC won the game, it was how they won that doesn’t portend well for Washington’s chances against Alabama. The Husky running backs struggled to get three yards a carry and Jake Browning was knocked around all evening. On the other side, Washington was able to limit USC RB Ronald Jones to 93 yards on 23 carries. Hurts will certainly have to make some plays.
Before this season, Evans moved from outside to inside linebacker. Throughout the season, he showed flashes as a run stopper and contributed 35 tackles. But he still rushed the quarterback on 24 percent of his snaps in the first 12 games, according to Pro Football Focus. Hamilton, in contrast, blitzed only 11 percent of the time when he was on the field.
Evans was primarily moved inside to provide additional pressure up the middle on third downs and was even seen working at money in the fall. He will now get his opportunity to play as an every down WLB, though Mack Wilson and Keith Holcombe will likely rotate in as well.
Foster couldn't pretend he was anything but star-struck when the Chicago Bears legend surprised him with the award named in his honor.
"Oh yeah, I was. I was," Foster said. "My heart was about to jump out of my chest. That's like you hear about Dick Butkus -- man ..."
Butkus was the unannounced guest at Alabama's Dec. 4 banquet in Birmingham.
Apparently Butkus surprises the winner every year to present the award. That is cool.
“I started out in high school as the sixth string quarterback on my team,” he said. “And that’s probably what I would have been starting out at Bama. Now there’s less people there so I’ll be for sure third coming in probably unless something happens. Tua is getting there early and my school isn’t letting me graduate early for some reason. That’s going to hurt me a little bit, but I’ll be able to wedge my way in there and work for it.”
Jones and Tagovailoa haven’t had a chance to spend much time together, but the pair stay in communication.
Sounds like Mac is still on board. He is needed at this point.
"Mainly, let's keep our composure," he said. "Our guys started dropping their heads too much. I've been talking a lot about adversity. Life is not always perfect. We miss a shot, then we drop our head. We turn the ball over, we drop our head and we don't get back on defense. That's not the type of professionalism we want on the floor.
"So more than trying to draw up a play, I was trying to deal with their mindset."
Typical growing pains. The team came in to the season very excited but hasn’t had the success they had hoped. It’s not uncommon for some doubt to creep in. Hopefully they keep working at it and are able to jell a bit before SEC play.
Lastly, we have some Bama players showing out at the next level:
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix now has 4 INTs this season. Only NFL safety with more is former Alabama teammate Landon Collins (5) pic.twitter.com/oWaJl1z2uz— Randall Liu (@RLiuNFL) December 18, 2016
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.