For months Brent and I have been sounding the claxon about the Tide's depth. Not the quality, mind you; the starters will be as good as it gets in the country. But, titles are not won with your starting eleven -- they're won with the dozen or so players behind those. And, as much as
Josh some people don't want to hear it, the depth in the defensive backfield, already perilously thin, is officially a four-alarm tire fire with news that Kendall Sheffield's future with the team is "very much in doubt."
If you're keeping track at home, since Spring that's the loss of Shawn Burgess-Becker, Maurice Smith, probably Sheffield (a five-star RS corner,) Tony Brown for a third of the season, and god only knows what's going to happen with Lawrence "Hootie" Jones.
This leaves the Tide with true freshman Shyheim Carter, (probably) Hootie Jones, (possibly) freshman WR/S Trevon Diggs, WR/S Deionte Thompson and (maybe) true freshman Nigel Knott as your viable backup DB corps. That's not optimal. Add this issue to the nation's third-toughest schedule, and you have a team that very well could have a record far below their ceiling.
Bring on the haters. I'm used to. I'll joust with you later: I have stuff to do this morning. Here's today's JP.
Here are several tidbits from the media viewing portion of Alabama's Monday evening session in Tuscaloosa: - Just like in the morning practice, redshirt freshman cornerback Kendall Sheffield was not on the field. - Junior defensive back Tony Brown practiced with the cornerbacks. Freshman wide receiver Trevon Diggs and redshirt freshman inside linebacker Keaton Anderson practiced with the safeties.
The 49ers issued their first depth chart of training camp in advance of Sunday's preseason opener against the Houston Texans. Dial is listed as the starter at right defensive tackle (or end in the three-man line). In practices, though, San Francisco has at times trotted out a first-team defense of Dial at nose tackle flanked by Arik Armstead and DeForest Bucker, the 49ers' first-round draft picks in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Dial has experience at all the line positions since joining San Francisco as a fifth-round draft choice out of Alabama in 2013.
Alabama NFL roundup: 3 rookies start in preseason openers | AL.com
Jones, who is considered to have the inside track on the Patriots' slot corner spot, made three tackles, recovered a fumble and had a 2-yard punt return in New England's 34-22 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday.
With three weeks left before opening the season with USC, Saban said they're still tinkering with a few different combinations up front. "So I'm pleased with the progress," Saban said, "not satisfied but certainly think that it's a better, more healthy, more depth situation than we had a year ago."
Jonah Williams was again praised by Saban, but at this point, based on the practice groupings, RG is Bradley Bozeman's job to lose.
Cyrus Jones, who is considered to have the inside track on the Patriots' slot corner spot, made three tackles, recovered a fumble and had a 2-yard punt return in New England's 34-22 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday.
Ryan Kelly also started for the Colts. His name was not called during the game, which is what you want from a lineman.
Getting Dazon Ingram back (played just seven games due to injury) will help, as will the four transfers. Still, replacing Obasohan—not to mention Arthur Edwards and Justin Coleman—will be a challenge. As his name would indicate, Braxton Key could be a pivotal freshman addition. If Corban Collins doesn't pan out in the leap from Morehead State to the SEC, the Crimson Tide may need to put Key right into the starting rotation. They only have a couple backcourt options, though, and the 6'8" forward doesn't do much to help solve that problem. While most teams have adopted the stretch 4, Alabama may need to go the North Carolina route by starting a 6'8" small forward at shooting guard, just to get the five best players on the floor.
Basketball is closer than you think. Alabama is going to be smallish this year, but not as small as the analysis suggests. Donta' Hall has the potential to be monster inside, and could grow into a special player.
Devon Hunter, S, Chesapeake (Va.) Indian River – The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder from Virginia has long been high on Alabama, but it’s Virginia Tech that will prove to be the toughest competition for the Tide. The No. 3 safety, Hunter recently visited Alabama and is emerging a priority target at the position. Hunter is a former teammate of former Tide commit Jaquan Yulee.
Sign. All. The. DBs.
ALABAMA at LSU, Nov. 5 Since the Tigers' 9-6 Game of the Century victory in 2011, the Crimson Tide has won five straight in the series. As Ole Miss can attest, beating Alabama does not guarantee an SEC West championship. But no SEC West team has won the division in college football during Nick Saban's time at Alabama without beating the Tide. Can Alabama's defense derail a second consecutive Leonard Fournette Heisman Trophy campaign? Can the Tigers keep the Tide from a third straight playoff appearance?
Since 2008, LSU-Alabama has been the story in the SEC. That's not going to change anytime soon.
So who does Alabama call on most for its dirty work? "ArDarius Stewart, guaranteed," Ridley said Sunday. "He’s a dog. He’s got a lot of heart."
Stewart isn’t Alabama’s biggest receiver, that role belongs to 6-foot-5 junior Cam Sims. He’s just the meanest. The 6-foot-1 junior from Fultondale is credited as the originator of the "assassins" nickname and has stressed the importance of bringing a physical mentality to the field multiple times this offseason. "You’ve got to be the slashers," Stewart said.
"You got to come in when we need a big play, go down the field and sacrifice our bodies and make something happen, make something come through. When we’re down, when we’re struggling, we’re the guys that try and get the momentum of the game to swing back in our hands."
The best WR corps in the country has a nifty nickname to boot.
I’m picking Alabama and LSU to both finish 11-1 – and both reach the playoff. We haven’t yet had two teams from the same conference, but it’s bound to happen, especially with the schedules these two play. The committee has made clear how much it values Top 25 wins. Both Alabama (against USC) and LSU (against Wisconsin) could get one on opening Saturday, then add three or four more in conference play.
That's what I've been thinking this year too. Perhaps not Alabama/LSU but FSU/Clemson -- both of whom have cripple-kicker schedules. And, if the Big Ten and Pac 12 are as mediocre as I suspect they will be, and if ND is retooling as I suspect they will, you're likely to get an ACC or SEC potential rematch this season (adding in the Dirt Burglars and three of the four teams above.)
"The biggest thing is a leader," senior tight end O.J. Howard said. "Who can lead the offense, take charge? That’s what coach wants to see out of a quarterback, too, I’m pretty sure. Who can be the leader, take charge, take command of the huddle." Even outside the locker room, leadership qualities tend to carry more weight than physical attributes. Having a rocket arm or a sub 4.5 time in the 40 is not going to hurt a quarterbacks chances of winning the job, it just won’t go as far as poise and decision making. "Guys who make plays, smart with the ball, that’s what we all want," Howard said. "We don’t want turnovers. Turnovers hurt us. Any type of turnover hurts us, so we need to take care of the ball, and that’s what we need."
Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. That's why I still think the steady-as-she-goes approach is why we get Cooper Bateman in Jerry World, as unexciting as it may be. The Freshmen will get their shots this year, but it's going to take time to get consistent, minimize turnovers, and win over Saban.