Happy Friday, everyone. We have a few links for you to peruse today. We'll start with a little reminiscing:
Here's how good the 2011 defense was. Against teams not named Alabama, LSU averaged 40.9 points, produced a passer rating of 156.5, and featured four running backs who combined for 184 rushing yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry. Yes, the defense set the offense up for success, but this was a sound offense that ranked 13th in Off. S&P+. Now think about your own perception of that LSU offense. Because of what Alabama did, first in a 9-6 loss in Tuscaloosa, then in 21-0 destruction in the BCS title game, the Tiger O has been forever labeled as a unit that was mediocre at best, one that drastically held back a good defense. In two full games (and an overtime!) against Alabama, this strong offense scored nine points and gained 321 yards. In 2011, Alabama allowed more than 251 yards, 4.4 yards per play, or 14 points just one time, and that was against Georgia Southern. That's how good the 2011 Alabama defense was.
With two of the best defenses in the sport's history facing off, 120 minutes (and overtime) produced one offensive touchdown and eight field goals. No, that's not aesthetically pleasing to many. Yes, few outside of the SEC region were excited about a rematch in the national title game. Yes, it took a massive upset -- Iowa State over undefeated Oklahoma State -- and some decimal points to create a rematch at all. Yes, this game was so displeasing to the masses that it helped to push the fervor for a college football playoff over the top. Still, because of the defenses, these were two spectacular teams, the two best of the season. Aesthetics or not, this was a heavyweight matchup we happened to get twice.
Ah, that January night in New Orleans was glorious, wasn't it? Not surprising that Alabama defenses litter the "best of the past decade" list. Connelly says that the 2011 and 2015 Alabama units were the top two. For my money, they are pretty close with absurd talent on both units. I know it's like asking to choose between your children, but which unit do you think was better and for what reason? Sounds like a poll.
Alabama lost its best cover cornerback in Cyrus Jones, a staple in the secondary for two seasons. The good news is found in the stockpile of talent left in his wake. A few former five-star recruits will compete for time after waiting their turn. The biggest question will be with how new secondary coach Derrick Ansley and new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt handle Minkah Fitzpatrick. He was a breakout star in 2015 playing the "Star" position, the fifth defensive back in nickel formations.
I'm really not concerned about the secondary, particularly with Eddie Jackson returning in a leadership role at safety. No matter what grouping Pruitt and Ansley settle on, there will be elite athletes all over the field ready to take one to the house. Look for Marlon Humphrey to be the next Dee Milliner shut-down guy on the outside.
Alabama will kick off its spring practice slate later than many of its Southeastern Conference peers. The school announced Thursday it will start its spring practices on March 11. By comparison, in-state rival Auburn opened its spring practice on March 1
Just a week away.
- Alabama has offered No. 1 quarterback Hunter Johnson from Brownsburg, Ind, but he is committed to Clemson
- Alabama could take closer looks at the No. 5 and No. 6 quarterbacks. Davis Mills from Norcross, Ga., and Jake Bentley from Opelika don't have Alabama offers but are close by. Bentley is the top quarterback in the state of Alabama going into his senior season. His father is the running backs coach at South Carolina and in January, he mentioned the Gamecocks, along with Georgia, Miami and Stanford as top schools.
Personally, I always thought that Fromm was an odd commitment considering Kiffin's apparent affinity for the dual threat guys. With Barnett and Hurts around, the Tide could afford to go without a QB in the class, but it's unlikely that they will.
Before Signing Day, Barnett wrote on Twitter: "I'll keep it simple. I got 16 reasons why you should commit to UA. The chances of there being 17 reasons next year is likely." He was referring to Alabama's 16 claimed national championships. Will Barnett be the QB gunning for No. 17? Stay tuned next summer or fall, when Alabama's quarterback decisions typically get revealed.
Blake certainly carries himself like the front-runner.
Additionally Johnson said he "saw no physical contact" and Manning got "banned from the chow hall" for the incident. "It just didn't happen," Johnson said. "Later someone in the administration asked me what happened. They asked if Peyton mooned somebody. They said you can't do that with a female trainer present. Next thing I know, Peyton is banned from the chow hall. He took his punishment; as 20-year-olds we understood that you can't do that."
None of us will ever know what really happened that day, but Manning's legacy is certainly tarnished.
That was evident Thursday, when Harbaugh suggested on Twitter that Tennessee coach Butch Jones should focus on his own team instead of tweeting about having lunch in the Sunshine State. Jones, who recently made scholarship offers to 20 teammates at the IMG Academy, had joined the chorus of coaches on Twitter who hinted that they were interested in watching the Wolverines' open practice Friday. That was enough for Harbaugh to respond, especially with a Title IX lawsuit hanging over Tennessee's program.
Based on this exchange, something tells me that Butch Jones was not allowed to eat lunch at the cool kids' table in middle school.
That's about it for today, folks. Have a great weekend.