Happy Friday, everyone. Alabama softball survived its SEC quarterfinal game against Arkansas last night, but it came at a steep cost as legendary pitcher Montana Fouts left with what looked like a knee injury. Patrick Murphy said that it was always his intent to rest Fouts for the weekend anyway, to prepare for the NCAA Tournament. Needless to say, any WCWS hopes this team has hinge on Montana’s golden right arm. We will monitor the situation closely and bring you any news we have. CB969 will also be along with full game coverage later.
As far as football goes, Nick Kelly wrote about the state of the QB race, and he’s not convinced that Buchner was brought in as anything more than competition.
If Milroe or Simpson had any reason to believe it wasn’t truly an open competition, one or both probably wouldn’t have stayed. At least one would have likely transferred.
Instead neither departed, setting up an intriguing battle in the summer and the fall.
It makes sense that Buchner isn’t automatically the anointed starter, even with his connection to offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, his former offensive coordinator at Notre Dame. Buchner is far from a proven commodity at the collegiate level. Sure, he has some experience and traits to like, but more data is needed before knowing what he is as a college quarterback.
This seems to be the only reasonable take. Milroe only needs to improve a bit as a passer to become a Heisman contender with his speed, and Simpson has all kinds of ability that needs nurturing. Could Buchner win the job? Sure, but he’ll have to prove himself in the summer and fall to do so.
Kirby apparently called Michigan before the title game two years ago.
Smart said what he learned from the Michigan staff was not only valuable but motivation for the Tide.
“Talking to (Michigan), they had talked to Alabama who had just beaten us in the SEC Championship. So, they wanted information from Alabama, so some of the information we gathered from Michigan came from information they gathered from Alabama,” Smart said. “It was very unique to hear that perspective and they gave us a little extra incentive and motivation from things Alabama had said about us and I was able to parlay that into some motivation for our guys.”
As if we needed another reason to despise Harbaugh.
New Alabama beat writer Kennington Smith III of The Athletic noted that Alabama slung it quite a bit in the spring game, but still expects balance.
The spring game numbers didn’t bear it out (a 60/40 pass-run split), but Rees’ track record of running the ball will remind fans of past offenses. He flashed 12 personnel (two tight end sets) throughout A-Day, and that power running look will likely be a fixture this fall. If I could predict the 2023 Alabama offense, it would be “power spread,” running downhill behind an offensive line looking to play more aggressively but staying true to the run-pass options (and explosive vertical plays, fans hope) that have been successful for several years.
Rees was pretty adaptable at Notre Dame by year and personnel. This year’s offense will be considerably less reliant on quarterback hero ball, and a good running game is a quarterback’s best friend. I expect much more balance to the offensive approach this year.
Wait a minute, did he just say that the playcalling at A Day wasn’t a carbon copy of what Rees called at Notre Dame? Big if true.
DraftKings sportsbook put out an over/under on win totals for SEC teams, and the divisions are far from equal.
Georgia — 11.5 wins
Alabama — 10.5 wins
LSU — 9.5 wins
Tennessee — 9.5 wins
Ole Miss — 7.5 wins
Texas A&M — 7.5 wins
Arkansas — 7 wins
Auburn — 6.5 wins
Kentucky — 6.5 wins
Mizzou — 6.5 wins
MSU — 6.5 wins
South Carolina — 6.5 wins
Florida — 5.5 wins
Vanderbilt — 3.5 wins
You may note that of the bottom half of the league, five of the seven play in the East, including the only two schools with fewer than six wins.
Auburn is in that bottom half, but Steven Lassan over at Athlon believes that they will bounce back from last season.
The arrival of Hugh Freeze and a solid staff is the biggest reason Auburn should improve in ‘23. Freeze and coordinator Philip Montgomery should jumpstart the offense, and the transfer portal additions of quarterback Payton Thorne (Michigan State) and four potential starters on a thin offensive line are another reason for optimism. Also, running back Jarquez Hunter should have a breakout year. The Tigers are solid in the secondary, and similar to the offense, a couple of transfer portal additions are slated to boost the line of scrimmage.
Last, Kareem Jackson has had a hell of a career.
At age 35, he’s now:
The oldest defensive back in the entire NFL.
The oldest defensive player in the entire AFC.
The oldest former Alabama players among 70-plus currently on NFL rosters.
Longevity in the NFL is a tough trick. The average career spans just 3.3 years, and at the cornerback position Jackson played for most of his, it’s not even that long (2.9 years). Outlasting more than 99 percent of players in the league, as Jackson has, demands a rare mix of talent, intelligence, good fortune when it comes to injuries, and a year-round dedication to keep an aging body in the best shape possible. Throw in both the ability and willingness to change positions, as Jackson did when he switched from cornerback to safety in 2019, and you’ve got a 14-year pro career that demands respect for its length alone.
Not bad for a guy who many claimed was overdrafted with the 20th overall pick in 2010.
That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.