With two days to go until we get to watch Alabama football again (I mean, what else do we live for?), here is your daily dose of links from around the internet.
-- Receiver Robert Foster was not spotted practicing with his group Wednesday. The former top recruit has three catches and 13 yards this season. Nick Saban will meet with reporters after practice.
-- Fellow receiver ArDarius Stewart was again in a black jersey doing drills with head trainer Jeff Allen. He sprained his knee Saturday at Ole Miss and Saban said he's unsure if he'll be back for Kent State. It seems less likely if he wasn't practicing Wednesday.
-- Minkah Fitzpatrick was in a full contact crimson jersey, practicing with the first team secondary. He took a knee to the helmet in a scary moment at Ole Miss. Saban has not specified his injury.
-- Freshman defensive lineman Raekwon Davis got extra instruction from positional coach Karl Dunbar on shedding blockers. The 6-foot-7 lineman saw action in each of the last two games.
-- Ben Davis remains on the scout team at middle linebacker.
-- Levi Wallace and true freshman Aaron Robinson appeared to be the cornerbacks with the second-team dime defense.
Al.com gives us a few practice notes from the Wednesday session. One note is that Robert Foster was out. Saban later said that Foster "tweaked his knee." He should get some snaps against Kent State, but they'll probably be limited. With both Foster and Stewart injured, this will be a good week for guys like Cam Sims or Trevon Diggs (who Saban mentioned he wants to play more offense) to make a name for themselves. It will also give Gehrig Dieter a chance to redeem the drops that have plagued his short Alabama career thus far.
While it’s certainly true that Alabama reloads season after season, it appears the term doesn’t just apply to players anymore. For Jeremy Pruitt to come in and not miss a beat speaks volumes about his coaching ability. These aren’t "his" players like Kirby had "his" guys (one of which followed him to UGA), but that will come with time.
Pruitt not only held down the fort, so to speak, he fortified it with an even better defense.
All that said, we know the real identity of the man behind the curtains controling the puppets. This is Alabama football, and it is Nick Saban’s defense; always has been, always will be.
I, for one, have been really impressed with Pruitt's defense thus far. While Kirby Smart had been amazing, I think that he had been in one place too long. Other teams were keying in on his defensive strategies. Pruitt has come in with some aggressive wrinkles, all while keeping the same legendary Nick Saban system instilled in the players.
It remains to be seen, but I think this defense could easily surpass last year's version, and might even top the 2011 squad. If anything, it's pass rush alone will put this squad into consideration.
The Tide coach said that Cam Sims has been playing well and would likely take some of the playing time for Stewart. He also said Rob Foster would get some playing time. And he said, "A young guy that we've been trying to play both ways who's got a lot of promise is Trevon Diggs, who because of our lack of depth in the secondary, maybe trying to be playing him both ways. I think we'll probably try to emphasize more offense with him this week."
I mentioned Diggs a little above. If you didn't catch it, Diggs twice lined up as a running against Ole Miss. One of those times, he ended up motioning out to become a wide out, but that shows that the coaches are a fan of his positional versatility.
Players who get thrust into too many positions as a freshman often end up making a huge impact for Nick Saban a year or two later. See: Mark Barron, Cyrus Jones,
B.J. Scott, Eddie Jackson. He has good size, good speed, and above all, a silky-smooth feel for playing football.
I don't know if he'll ultimately end up on defense or offense, but Trevon Diggs is going to make an impact either way.
Avery Johnson and staff extended an offer to the 6-foot-7, 183-pounder in the spring, and have hosted him on numerous occasions since.
"The energy and enthusiasm everyone on campus had, and not just the coaching staff," Jones told BamaOnLine of what he liked about his most recent visit. Jones is rated the No. 34 shooting guard and the No. 145 overall player in the country, per the industry-generated 247Sports Composite. Currently, Alabama is trending on the 247Sports Crystal Ball at 67 percent.
Herb Jones, from Moundville, AL, should be almost a lock to end up in Tuscaloosa. Who's ready for year two of Avery Johnson basketball? I know I am. Buckle up.
Also, 2017 wide receiver commit Jerry Jeudy is something else:
After the Titans' practice on Wednesday, Mularkey said the decision had been made for surgery, with the timetable for Warmack's returning possibly stretching into 2017. Warmack is headed for the Titans' injured-reserve list. That designation will sideline him for a minimum of eight weeks.
On Monday, Mularkey said it would be hard for Warmack to play effectively with the injury.
"You'd probably have to play with basically a cast, a club (on the hand), which is difficult to do at that position," Mularkey said. " ... Linemen, again, the importance of using your hands and fingers -- I'm sure he had some issues with it (on Sunday), there's no doubt about that."
Warmack was starting to come into his own last year, and the Titans running game was becoming one of the best in the NFL with a line of 1st round picks, Jalson Fowler at fullback, and DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry at running back. That's a tough loss, especially considering that Warmack was in his contract year.
"Only two other linebackers in the country have more tackles without a miss than Foster’s 17 solos and six assists," Renner wrote of the Crimson Tide linebacker. "Those other two, and quite frankly every other linebacker in the country, don’t have the ability to make plays all over the field like Foster does though. The next man up in the Alabama linebacker factory, Foster has a chance to be one of the best when it’s all said and done."
Through three games, Foster leads the Crimson Tide with 22 tackles, and his speed and ferocity on the field has been apparent to his teammates, especially fellow linebacker Ryan Anderson, who was impressed on one, particular play.
"He calls his new body a Ferrari. He says last year was a Tahoe." Anderson said. "... I was watching the film, and every play, he’d just fly. Like the play he hit Chad Kelly, I stopped and my jaw dropped like, ‘Dang.’ I was scared. I was scared for him. I don’t know where he came from. I was running and it was ‘Bop!’ Like, what was that? I should have known it was 10. "... Reuben is a monster. He’s 100 miles per hour every play. He plays at one speed, and that’s scary. That’s scary."
Reuben Foster is a special talent. It has taken him a decent amount of time to get his technique and mental ability on par with his athleticism and talent. The "anonymous scout" in the article compared him to Luke Keuchley, who is one of the top middle linebackers currently in the NFL. If Foster keeps up his play from the first three games throughout the season and then tests as well at the combine as I think he will (his broad and vertical jump numbers last spring were ridiculous), he might be drafted even higher than C.J. Mosley was.