Duke also played Clemson to a 29-point decision, 35-6. Alabama did better, by a point, so there is no call for snarkiness.
But I couldn’t name a returning Duke player. I didn’t even know if Duke had an A-Day game, or a D-Day game which would probably carry too many military connotations connected with the heroic landing at Normandy Beach.
So I had two choices: Fill up the rest of the column with Duke basketball jokes (“Does Zion play for them?”) or go find out a few things, which I did courtesy of Evan Kollin of the Duke Chronicle.
Cecil was in fine form with this article. It’s a fun read. Duke, while not the most inspiring season opener, is perennially a better team than they’re given credit for. Alabama should win handily, but all it takes is a slip up and the Blue Devils can very easily make it into a game.
Nick Saban has spoken highly of the leadership skills of Chris Owens and the confidence his teammates have in the redshirt junior. Owens is the starter at center for the first four games. At some point after Deonte Brown’s return, Saban may try to field the team’s five best and that could include Ekiyor at center.
Then there is Evan Neal, who from numerous reports has impressed throughout the spring. Neal is a future tackle but the transition to college ball is a bit easier on the offensive line interior. Look for him to stay at guard, at least until Deonte Brown’s return. The future is bright for Neal at guard or tackle.
Here’s some depth chart “speculation” from BamaHammer. The offense is about as set as it can possibly be, with only the offensive guards as the only real question. Personally, I’m really excited Chris Owens is finally getting a shot. He made a huge impression on me years ago in whichever All-Star game he played in, and I’ve predicted him to win the center job for like 4 years in a row now. A broken clock is right twice a day, I guess.
Nick Saban has been the head football coach at Alabama for 195 weeks worth of polls since his hire in 2007. The Crimson Tide have been in the top 25 for all but nine of those weeks and have not dropped below No. 15 this decade. In terms of all-time football history, Alabama has a lot of catching up to do in the books. Nebraska, from 1981 until 2002, holds the longest all-time streak at 348 weeks. Saban and the Crimson Tide, however, are likely to outstrip Florida (209 weeks) and Florida State (211 weeks) unless something drastic changes in the next three years.
I personally enjoy random stats and records. Especially when Alabama is at the top of the list. The awesome part is just how far ahead of everyone else the Tide is. Ohio State is 81 weeks behind, which amounts to the Buckeyes having to stay in the polls for another 6 years if Alabama even drops out of the top 25. Reaching Nebraska’s 348 weeks would require basically another decade of dominance. But, hey, it is Gump Day. Let’s go for it!
With the Saints, Ingram ran for 6,007 yards in an offense operated by quarterback Drew Brees, who has the most passing yards in NFL history. With the Ravens, he joins the No. 1 rushing offense in the AFC. Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson started the final seven games of the regular season and a playoff contest in the 2018 campaign, piling up 610 yards on 128 rushing attempts in that span.
“I’m new to the option-read offense, too,” Ingram said. “I had a traditional, Hall of Fame. drop-back passer, so it’ll be new to me. But I think it’s just repetition, just developing the camaraderie and relationship where we trust each other, and that goes for everybody.”
Also new to Ingram in Baltimore will be his jersey number. He’ll wear No. 21 with the Ravens.
Mark not being in New Orleans is still weird to me, but a 3-year, $15 million deal is pretty tough to pass up for a running back nearing that deadly age of 30. With the threat of Lamar Jackson running the ball, Ingram will have a good shot at picking up big chunks of yards as linebackers get sucked out of position.
Alabama recently hired Nate Oats, a good friend of Baker’s from their days coaching together at Romulus High School in southeast Michigan.
“It’s just a dream come true,” Baker said.
Baker led the Southfield Christian basketball program to four state title as a head coach and another as an assistant since joining the school for the 2011-12 season. Most recently, Baker led Southfield Christian to a state title in each of the last two seasons, winning the Division 4 championship back in March. For 10 seasons prior to his Southfield Christian stint, Baker was an assistant on Oats’ staff at Romulus High School.
Baker expressed abundant excitement about rejoining Oats, this time at the collegiate level. Also joining Baker and Oats at Alabama is Charlie Henry, an assistant coach from Romulus from 2009-10. Henry joins the Alabama staff after numerous assistant positions spanning the collegiate and pro level. Most recently, Henry was head coach of the Windy City Bulls, the NBA G-League affiliate to the Chicago Bulls.
Nate Oates is definitely bringing a lot of his own people in, for better or for worse. It will be an infusion of outside coaching talent with no grassroots connection to the program. And, honestly, I think that is a good thing. Sometimes, things just need a fresh perspective introduced to get a kick start. Here’s to hoping that’s exactly what happens in the hoops program.