Happy Monday, everyone. We have reached mid-August, fall semester at UA starts on Wednesday, we've had the first scrimmage of camp, and as of today are less than three weeks from kickoff. Good times. Let's get to your morning reading:
Bateman is expected to make good decisions with the football. He's heading into his fourth year at Alabama, and has been in Lane Kiffin's system for three years. But Saban saying there weren't a "whole lot of poor decisions" speaks volumes for the young players. The biggest struggle with young quarterbacks is getting them to take what's there instead of always trying to make something out of nothing. Saban's quote suggests that Hurts and Barnett are at least making an effort to cut down on turnovers and mental errors. But Saban prefers perfection so he is always going to find a way to critique the players so they can continue to work on improving.
Willams added 15 pounds to weigh in at 305 before practices began. He started at right tackle on A-Day and doesn't appear to be slipping on the depth chart. Cam Robinson was the first true freshman to start at tackle under Saban when he did so in 2014.
As usual, Alabama beat writers enjoy far less access to the team than most, but most everything we've heard has been positive. Jonah Williams has drawn excellent reviews and looks ready to take a starting role. On the QB front, there is a long way to go, but more and more it looks like one of the younger candidates will end up getting the nod. No matter who takes the job, the position looks to be in far better shape than this time last season.
With Williams having apparently locked up a starting job, Jalen Hurts looking like the best QB, B.J. Emmons creating plenty of buzz, Raekwon Davis pushing for a major role on the defensive line, and several DBs pushing for time in the secondary, not to mention LBs Mack Wilson and Ben Davis who simply have too much depth to overcome, this freshman class has a chance to be the most impactful since the vaunted 2008 class of Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, and company.
When Alabama and Clemson played in the first Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome eight years ago, the matchup was a rarity for college football's opening week: two big-name, nationally ranked teams from rival power conferences. The pairing bucked the trend of Week 1 mismatches that had come to define and diminish the start of the season. It also started a counter-trend. "Now, this year, we've arguably got the best first week of college football games in history," said Gary Stokan, who started and runs the Atlanta game that changed how college football launches its season.
The same game that put Alabama football back on the map also ushered in a new tradition of big time opening weekend matchups.
Ryan Kelly, Cyrus Jones and Jarran Reed saw their first NFL action in the first week of the 2016 preseason schedule, and the three rookies from Alabama did it from the starting lineup. Kelly was at center for the Indianapolis Colts, Jones started at right cornerback for the New England Patriots and Reed played right defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks.
The Tide was well represented in week one of the NFL preseason, with Derrick Henry taking the headlines.
Steve Spurrier, who had three straight 11-2 seasons at South Carolina after turning 65, visited with Saban after speaking at a high school clinic over the summer. He said Saban joked that he was starting to hear of opposing coaches telling recruits he wouldn't be around much longer. ''He's got a good six to eight years or more, depending on what he wants, really,'' said Spurrier, who stepped down during the 2015 season. ''If he keeps winning at a high level, which he certainly can the way they recruit. The question is if he gets to 8-4, I think he said, `All hell will break loose around here if I go 8-4.' It's really hard to go out on top. It's hard to say you've had enough unless you start losing. That's what happened to me, is we started losing.''
Another Saban-Bear comparison.
"Due to the recent flooding events in our state and my community, I am postponing my decision because my mind/heart is with those who are going through (a) rough time dealing with those tragic events," Smith said in an announcement. "Please keep our state and all communities affected by the recent flooding in prayer." A new date for Smith's commitment has not been set. This post will be updated if that changes.
Classy move by Devonta, who has been considered a strong 'Bama lean for some time. Our thoughts are certainly with our friends in Baton Rouge.
They all have that moment when they sit in the big leather office chair, exhale and realize they are responsible for ... everything. "Every day," Georgia's Kirby Smart said. There were 29 coaching changes during the offseason. Nineteen of those men are beginning their first full season as FBS head coaches. That's the most in college football's highest division in at least 20 years.
Lots of new blood in the ranks, with Kirby as the headliner. He's certainly in a different game now.
Nebraska is the latest program to adopt rugby-style tackling. As in rugby, where players wear no helmets, the tackle is made by driving a shoulder into or near the ball-carrier's hip, wrapping him up and taking him to the ground. Though the hip is the ideal target, it could be anywhere between the knees and armpit. All the while the defender's head remains to the side of the ball-carrier's body, away from the tackle contact zone. In a sport beleaguered by concussion concerns, rugby-style has been touted as a safer way to tackle, and teams can practice it with or without helmets and pads.
Not only would college football players be better protected by utilizing proper form tackling rather than going for the ESPN highlight hit, there would be fewer blown tackles.
Graham Harrell set NCAA passing records in the last decade at Mike Leach's quarterback factory at Texas Tech. Harrell is now the offensive coordinator at North Texas and knows this about Morris: He could have played for The Pirate. "We had some great ones out there," Harrell said said of Tech. "But arm-talent wise, he's probably as talented as anyone we ever had out there. He can throw the ball."
Sounds like Alec is going to have a strong season at North Texas. Great to see.
That's about it for today. Have a great week.