FALL CAMP! I'M SO EXCITED!
2. Right guard The participants: Redshirt freshman Brandon Kennedy vs. senior Alphonse Taylor The skinny: While nothing about Taylor’s play last season suggested that he should lose his starting job this season, his offseason said different. First, throughout most of the spring, Taylor practiced on the second team at least partly because of weight issues. Then, earlier this month, he was arrested on a DUI charge, which has left him "indefinitely suspended" and possibly in danger of missing a game or games. Meanwhile, Kennedy, a former four-star recruit, has stepped up, starting at the position with the first-team offense during the spring game. Others, such as sophomore Dallas Warmack and junior Bradley Bozeman, could get in the mix, but regardless, Taylor will need to win the job outright again, much as he did last season when he started all 15 games.
This is critical: Alabama cannot play with a swinging gate on the right side. Shank has been spotty in his tenure at Alabama, and, with the Tide breaking in a new right tackle as well, and Pierschbacher at center, Kennedy or Taylor must step up and anchor the interior. This, of course, assumes Shank's legal issues are going to disappear (and, I suspect they will, seeing as he blew a .000 irrespective of the Stupid Human Tricks the TPD made a concussed guy run through.)
OFFENSE Biggest positive: Playmakers are everywhere. Alabama generally always has had strong running backs, but rarely has it had as many weapons as it will this season. Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart, two of the SEC’s top wide receivers last season, are back, as are a fully healthy Cam Sims and Robert Foster. Gehrig Dieter joins the team as a graduate transfer after a 1,000-yard season at Bowling Green, and O.J. Howard is one of the more talented tight ends in the nation because of his unique blend of size and speed. RBs Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris — both former five-star prospects — also should help take a lot of pressure off the team’s yet-to-be-named starting quarterback.
This is the most gifted Alabama offense as we've seen. At this point, it's a matter of figuring out how to distribute the ball to the obscene wealth of talent Nick Saban and crew have amassed. Hear that, Lane? No 114 passes to the same guy this year.
Will complacency set in? This is the real name of the game, isn’t it? Alabama certainly isn’t lacking for talent, after all. With Calvin Ridley, Cam Robinson and O.J. Howard back, there’s a nice nucleus on offense. And the defense, which was so good last season, could be lethal yet again. The D-line might have to make up for some lost beef in the middle, but it’s going to be even faster off the edge. So that leaves one question: How badly does Alabama want it, and does it have the edge necessary to repeat as national champs? We’ve heard how in years past the attention of the locker room has slipped after winning it all. Replacing the leadership of Ryan Kelly, Jake Coker and Reggie Ragland won’t be easy. As much as the game will be played on the field, Alabama will have to find a way to win between the ears as well.
Complacency isn't setting in with this team. It's too young, too inexperienced at too many critical spots. There are too many guys playing for a starting job, and, crassly, there are too many guys -- particularly on the defense -- that are playing for first round money this season. But, the analysis is correct. Before last season started, almost after the OSU lost, Alabama's locker room leaders were identified. The Tide need some Reggies and A'Shawns in 2016. Allen is certainly one; Eddie has become that guy. But, who takes the reigns over the offense and steadies them like Coker did down the stretch and as Henry did all season?
Who to watch closest when Alabama opens practice.
GUMPY SLIDE SHOWS!
Can this end already?
He said he talked to Saban on June 16 and arrived at the football facility the next day to find his personal items in the trash. "These personal items included my family photos, written goals, inspirational and sentimental items memorializing my deceased former friend, roommate and teammate, Altee Tenpenny, and items of personal value from my former teammates," he wrote. He provided two photos in the letter, including one of a text message from a team staff member. It is unclear as to the identity of the staff member, but the message said, "Bro I can’t have u at facility. Not for workout, lunch, anything. All in or out policy. Sorry bro."
That's really odd, since, a week after the alleged text and trashing of his items, photos emerged of a focused DB grouping running one another through drills. Mo Smith just happened to be there. It doesn't pass the smell test.
Alabama declined an opportunity to comment Wednesday, but it's clear the school disagrees with Samyra Smith's contention that it's been stalling to keep her son on the roster. One example: Alabama already had renewed Smith's scholarship for the upcoming year, and there's no stated NCAA process to rescind such a renewal. But Alabama did work with the SEC and the NCAA to rescind the renewal, which was necessary to allow Smith to meet the transfer requirements. That process was finalized within the last week, which helps open the door for Smith to transfer to any school outside the SEC.
Big bad Alabama actually has already rescinded Mo's financial aid paperwork to permit him to transfer anywhere he wants outside the SEC. The only places he would have to sit out a year are other SEC schools; not an unreasonable request since choice A is a school where half the staff were drawing Alabama paychecks last year and a school with more than a puncher's chance of representing the SEC East in the SEC Title Game. This whole controversy has some serious hypocrisy on Smart's part too. When he had a player that wanted to follow Richt, UGA didn't allow it either. And, Alabama is doing much the same. But, we get one-sided narratives naturally.
Depth chart casualties
The 6-foot, 195-pound Louisiana native played in five games as a freshman last season. He finished with two catches for nine yards. Charlot was the ninth-best wide receiver and 90th-best overall prospect in last year's recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings. Interestingly, Charlot's transfer announcement was worded the exact same as outside linebacker Christian Bell's transfer announcement last week.
Brent's favorite player, Daylon Charlot is heading on. Probably the best for the sophomore -- like Chris Black, he is a depth chart casualty that can get far more snaps at another program.
All Alabama ery'thing
Alabama was the highest among SEC schools. The Crimson Tide have appeared in the poll 745 times, a whopping 67.54 percent of all AP polls. They've been ranked No. 1 a total of 74 times and have 10 AP national championships. They were the only team in the rankings to have double-digit AP poll championships.
Yet, the AP lists Ohio State as the traditionally best CFB program? LOL. Nice story, guys.
What in the actual hell is going on at Auburn?
First, there's this story from former Auburn wunderkind Tre Mason, which, if true is terrifying, and the former AU star needs serious intervention.
Sheriff's Office incident report of the July 23 call, one of five times that police have been called to Mason's family home since he was arrested during a traffic stop in Hollywood, Florida, almost five months ago. The police report said Mason's mother made the call on July 23 because of her son's "unusual" behavior and "irrational statements." TMZ Sports said the report indicated Mason said he would call the White House and have the officers fired after they arrived. He also made "bizarre statements about al-Qaida." The officer filing the report noted Mason's bedroom had a broken vase and lamp and a fist-sized hole in the wall.
Then, we get this nugget from Auburn. Jovon Robinson, the penciled-in starter since October of 2015 ditched practice yesterday amid rumors of altercations with teammates and failing drug tests. Gus, despite last season's dithering about with Duke Williams, pulled the trigger with quickness on the troubled, academically-challenged, and completely aloof running back. This leaves Auburn, in a do or die season for Malzahn, down its best offensive player for the second straight year.
The entire interview is worth reading, as Robinson took his dismissal poorly and immediately started alluding to dirt on the AU coaching staff and dissension between players and staff.
ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported via Twitter, per an anonymous source, that Robinson was dismissed for missing classes and meetings and "continued inattention to detail in everything." Robinson told AL.com, "it's nothing about me missing class or not paying attention" and denied being involved in an altercation or failing drug tests.
Finally, best nine seconds of your day: