Happy Friday, everyone. It's the last Friday before fall camp, which starts on Tuesday and will be exactly one month from kickoff at that point. You've almost made it. In the meantime, we have some links for your perusal:
Alabama is a +175 favorite on the odds to win the SEC at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. After getting off to a 2-1 straight up and 1-2 against the spread start including a surprising home loss to Mississippi in 2015, the Tide finished the season on a 12-0 SU and 7-5 ATS run that was capped off with a win in the national championship game.
Alabama will be going into the season with dreaded "expectations." Almost everyone is picking them to win the SEC and Vegas likes them to repeat. Managing the "clutter", as Saban calls it, will be paramount this season.
Fortunately for the Crimson Tide, it has some talented options beyond Brown and Smith. It could be that junior Anthony Averett or redshirt freshman Kendall Sheffield takes over at corner in nickel and dime situations, allowing Fitzpatrick to continue in his role at the star position in those looks.
There is also a talented quartet of freshman defensive backs to consider. Of that group, Shyheim Carter has been lauded by senior safety Eddie Jackson for being a standout in summer workouts. Carter will be joined by fellow newcomers Aaron Robinson, Jared Mayden and Nigel Knott in competing for playing time when fall camp gets underway late next week.
Alabama certainly has plenty of talented options, but having to rely on a player with limited experience in early season tilts against USC and Ole Miss is less than ideal. Marlon Humphrey is one of, if not the best, CBs in the country going into this season, but against Ole Miss last year made a critical freshman mistake that cost the team dearly on a long TD. While it's likely that the coaches would prefer to keep Marlon at "boundary" corner all season, playing HUNH offenses essentially makes this impossible. Some youngster will be in the game at CB and, being the only spot on the field that won't feature a veteran star, will undoubtedly be tested.
By placing some years’ semis on the Saturday before New Year’s but remaining locked in to Mondays for the championship, the gap between rounds will get considerably longer in some instances. In 2019-20, for example, the semis are now slated for Dec. 28. The championship game in New Orleans is not until 16 days later, on Jan. 13.
Putting the semis on Saturdays and holidays only sounds nice, but the largest playoff issue hasn't been addressed and probably won't be as long as Jim Delany has breath in his body. The Rose Bowl still gets to keep its late afternoon slot on New Year's Day, and the Sugar Bowl still holds onto its prime-time slot that night, even in years when those games are exhibitions and not playoff games. To continue treating the Rose and Sugar like two of the biggest games of the season, even when they aren't, and to keep from repeating the weeknight New Year's Eve mistake, the semifinals will be played as early as Dec. 27, 2025; Dec. 28, 2019; Dec. 28, 2024; and Dec. 29, 2018.
A full sixteen days between the semifinal and championship? Seems a little much.
Nicknamed "The Predator" by one NFL personnel man, Williams has tremendous get-off after the snap and can explode up the field to challenge the edge of the saltiest offensive tackle. What makes Williams particularly lethal is his combination of hand usage and cornering around the edge. Like most Alabama defensive linemen, he's excellent with his hands and plays with a mega-motor. His sack every 18.2 snaps he played in 2015 bodes well for his 2016 season and subsequent draft stock.
2. Jonathan Allen, DT/DE, Alabama
Allen's game might be more conducive to a higher draft slot than former teammates A'Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed, who both went in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. While he's a little smaller than you like on the interior, he has the quickness and technique to be a disruptive gap shooter from the three-technique spot or a sturdy base end for a 4-3 team looking for bulk on the edge. Allen's talent and ability to rush the quarterback should make him a first-rounder, but he's not necessarily a clean fit from a positional standpoint.
"The Predator", eh?
Sounds good, as does the fact that Alabama has four of the top six seniors in the country with O.J. Howard and Reuben Foster joining Williams and Allen. Add in Eddie Jackson who didn't make this list, and the Tide has key senior leadership at DL, ILB, OLB, and DB.
Whereas once it seemed unthinkable for anybody to compare to Bear Bryant, Saban has made a legitimate argument to being not only the best Alabama coach, but the best college football coach period. We're not quite ready to make that declaration yet. Our rankings placed Bryant first, Notre Dame's Knute Rockne second, Saban third, Notre Dame's Frank Leahy fourth and Michigan's Fielding Yost fifth. It is an ongoing conversation, though, as Saban, at age 64, is still showing no signs of slowing down and has a potential top team again ready for 2016.
Nick Saban is gaining on Paul "Bear" Bryant when it comes to turning out coaches who coached or played for him. While Bryant’s list includes names such as Howard Schnellenberger, Pat Dye, Gene Stallings, Jackie Sherrill, Ray Perkins, Sylvester Croom and Charley Pell, Saban has an impressive list of his own. Jimbo Fisher has a national championship, Jim McElwain coached against Saban in the SEC championship game last year, and Mark Dantonio coached against him in the College Football Playoff. If that’s not enough, Kirby Smart is the new head coach at Georgia and Will Muschamp is the new head coach at South Carolina.
Oh, it's still the offseason. Let's talk Bear vs. Saban again, shall we?
A more well-rounded landscape makes for more intriguing matchups across the board, which manifest in days like Sept. 3 — arguably the greatest Week 1 Saturday of all-time. Should Alabama beat USC, LSU handle Wisconsin, Ole Miss down Florida State and Auburn stun Clemson, consider the braggadocio earned for the remainder of the fall. Until then, though, the title "best conference" goes unoccupied.
Emphasis mine. "Auburn stun Clemson?"
Getting back to the program, September 3 is going to be one hell of a college football day. Plan accordingly.
The Division I Football Oversight Committee on Wednesday endorsed a proposed guideline to reduce the recommended number of live-contact practices that teams conduct each week from two to one. The practice guidelines take effect six days before each team’s 2016 regular-season opening game and run through the final regular-season game or conference championship game.
Should this be enacted, teams would only be allowed to tackle once a week during the season. While this probably leads to more sloppy tackling, if it helps reduce head injuries then it will certainly be worth it.
It didn't take Christian Bell long to find a new school. The former Alabama linebacker announced Thursday that he is transferring to Wisconsin. The ex-Hoover High School standout announced his plan to leave the Tide and transfer on Sunday.
Good for Christian, who will sit out this year then have four years of eligibility.
Johnson believes he can be "Obasohan 2.0."
"He does a lot of great things by taking care of our guys on and off the floor," Johnson said. "Great leadership on the floor. We think he's going to slide right into that role. Now, I'm not saying he's going to average 20 points per game or be first-team All-SEC, but we think he's going to have a solid year for us. He really can stretch the floor with his 3-point shot.
"Underrated passer who is really good at making on-time, on-target passes. With him and Dazon (Ingram) alternating ball handling responsibilities in the back court, we think that's going to give us more versatility."
Collins sounds like an important transitional player as a guy who can step in and provide veteran leadership, and some marksmanship, to a young but talented group.
This is just disgusting:
Multiple tests have shown that there are still huge amounts of trash, human waste, and pathogens in the waters this close to the start of the games, including "rotaviruses that can cause diarrhea and vomiting" as well as "drug-resistant 'superbacteria' that can be fatal to people with weakened immune systems." "Foreign athletes will literally be swimming in human crap, and they risk getting sick from all those microorganisms," Dr. Daniel Becker, a local pediatrician, explained to the Times. "It’s sad but also worrisome."
OK, this has nothing to do with Alabama, but it's relevant to any American sports fan. How have these games not been moved or cancelled? By all accounts, Rio has done an absolutely deplorable job in preparation and is endangering the health of the world's finest athletes.
That's about it for today. Have a great weekend.