Enjoy these late afternoon links and interesting reads. #hot #takes will be limited, as we're all working on finishing the Alabama Spring Football 2016 Unit Previews. We're down to outside linebackers and defensive line -- then, the A-Day Game. Excited yet?
Nick Saban ain't played nobody, Pawwwwl
This had a lot of potential -- but we need to set up a Kickstarter to make this a full-length feature film. Lord knows Saban has enough sound bites out there by now to make a very entertaining football version of Sybil.
Xs and Os
When the spread offense was able to start featuring pocket passers and still create advantages for their OL to block inside zone and run the ball up the middle that's when you saw the system really start to take off with the bigger programs in college football. The most common way this works is for the offense to package a bubble screen or other quick passing concept on the perimeter with the inside zone play. You see this frequently at Alabama who has used it to create 1-on-1 match-ups for stars like Amari Cooper and Derrick Henry.
Just a great article breaking down how the inside zone is, or can be, a staple of a power running game no matter the personnel or philosophy.
Recruiting QBs: Time-sensitive and iffy
Typically, only about 25 quarterbacks are rated four- or five-stars per year, so demand far outpaces supply. And teams usually do not move on from their No. 1 targets to accept a commitment from another until it is clear they are out of the running. Lesser-rated recruits know this. Every year, I track the dominos as they fall. QB1 picks school A, so School B moves on to QB2 as School C moves on to QB3. But then QB1 decommits from School A, and the cycle is thrown into chaos. It's like securing a date for prom. Schools must properly assess a prospect's interest, and prospects must not wait too long for offers that never come.
We've previously highlighted the difficulties of recruiting, and then keeping, a blue-chip QB. They are scarce commodities (and man was 2015 marked by some bad QB play across the nation;) they are notoriously fickle prospects; yet, at the same time, QBs commit earlier than most players. Ever wondered why? Bud knocks it out of the park with this intriguing timeline of the unique recruiting demands of the position.And, as we've seen with two high profile decommits/waivers, a team can be left scrambling and potentially without a QB based on one kid's late change of heart.
Of the six players from Alabama high schools and colleges who were expected to play regularly in the NBA during 2015-16, two of them suffered season-ending injuries, two more missed at least half the season with injuries and another missed one-fifth of the campaign. DeMarre Carroll of the Toronto Raptors, JaMychal Green of the Memphis Grizzlies, K.J. McDaniels of the Houston Rockets and Mo Williams of the Cleveland Cavaliers are on playoff teams.
It's a sad Alabama basketball tradition: Injuries, and have they ever laid low Alabama players in the NBA. Former PG Mo Williams and his Cavs look to be in the playoffs the longest. But, Griz PF JaMychal Green has solidly earned his place on a beat up Memphis team, averaging nearly a double double and playing fantastic defense along the way in Dave Jaeger's system.It's a pity that Green probably only has 4-5 games left this season before being dispatched by the Spurs.
...fans will get a taste of what the 2016 version will look like now that Jeremy Pruitt is calling plays. Granted, Saban is still the guiding force of the operation, so not much should change philosophically. But the development of several key players — Rashaan Evans, Ronnie Harrison, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Da’Shawn Hand and Tim Williams to name a few — will be worth following.
The media will be watching the QB battle and Bo Scarbrough. I'll be watching for subtle changes to Alabama's defensive philosophy (if any,) as well as how the offensive line is shaping up. Speaking of...
-- Da'Shawn Hand looked healthy in his second straight practice after missing a few with back spasms. -- Freshman Jonah Williams continues to work at right tackle with Korren Kirven working in place of injured starter Cam Robinson at left tackle. -- Also, keep an eye on Brandon Kennedy at right guard.
Korren Kirven is going to wind up winning a spot, likely at right tackle, which is shaping up to be a battle. Lester Cotton is a little more versatile an athlete and is too good to sit, but he's in a real battle with Brandon Kennedy for Shank's vacated position as well as with Kirven for RG. Elite depth is a beautiful thing. On the defensive side, Hand's back looks a little more nimble, but Jonathan Allen is still out until Fall.
From what Nick Saban's said, it sounds like Cornwell's improved the consistency issues that were problematic in the past. In the days leading up to last year's A-Day, there was considerable buzz surrounding his shot at landing the starting job. Ultimately, Cornwell was well outside the top group as Jake Coker won the job followed by Bateman and Alec Morris. It's clear Cornwell's matured in the past year. He spent spring break working with tight end O.J. Howard in Houston, so it's clear he has a good relationship with top targets.
This is the first I've really heard of Cornwell maturing. He needed it both for his personal development and for his goal of winning the starting spot. That is only good news for David and the Tide, even if it does muddle the QB picture going into August.