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Spring Practice Primer: Alabama

Posted on: March 8, 2012 1:40 pm
 

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Alabama.

Spring Practice Starts: March 9

Spring Game: April 14

Returning starters: 7 offensive, 4 defensive, 2 specialists

Three Things To Look For:

1. Motivation level at low Tide? Ask Nick Saban what the difference was between his 2009 and 2011 national titlists on one side and his 2010 disappointments on the other (for a given definition of "disappointment," of course), and he'll tell you that the former teams were driven, focused squads that put everything into their practice time, and the latter was a little too happy with the previous year's championship. We'd argue the bigger difference was the mile-deep rivers of experience that flowed through the Tide defense in '09 and '11, rivers that helped convert Saban's frightening stockpile of talent into two of the better defensive units in college football history ... but that's neither here nor there, really, since that talent is still there in abundance. Even if the experience isn't, if the Tide adopt the work ethic of their recent champions, there's no reason they can't at least approach their success, too. Spring will give us our first glance if that's the case or not. 

2. How well are the defensive holes being plugged? Of course, no matter how many four- and five-star studs are waiting in the wings, losing Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Dre Kirkpatrick, Josh Chapman, DeQuan Menzie and Jerrell Harris is still losing Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Dre Kirkpatrick, Josh Chapman, DeQuan Menzie and Jerrell Harris; the Tide have their work cut for them. It's time to see if Jesse Williams can fill Chapman's shoes, Adrian Hubbard Upshaw's, Trey DePriest Hightower's, etc. The spotlight will be particularly bright on the secondary, where even the return of Robert Lester may not be able to mask losing players --and leaders -- the caliber of Barron and Kirkpatrick.

3. Is T.J. Yeldon the real deal at running back? While owning the nation's No. 1 recruiting class gives Alabama fans plenty of options when it comes to their favorite newcomer, there's probably an especially soft spot in the heart of the Tide faithful -- and a diamond-hard one in the chest of your average Auburn fan -- for early-enrolling freshman running back Yeldon, a five-star recruit who committed to Auburn early and stuck with the Tigers until mere days were left before his enrollment ... whereupon he switched to the Tide. The neutral observer might not blame him, given the opportunity presented to him: with Trent Richardson on his way to the NFL, de facto starter Eddie Lacy out for spring following surgery for turf toe, and one-time star recruit Dee Hart coming back from an ACL tear in spring 2011, it's possible Yeldon could exit spring as the Tide's No. 1 tailback. And given that the last two guys to hold that honor both wound up attending the Heisman Trophy presentation before their careers were out, that would be a very, very nice place to be.

To check in on the rest of the SEC and other BCS conferences, check out the Spring Practice Schedule

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Comments

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2012 7:41 pm
 

CBS announcers

Gary Danielson and Vern Lundquist are the worst announcers in college football.  They are just plain stupid when it comes to football!!!!!
This was the only place i could Blog at the time.  This isn't the first week i've thought this, I just had enough of stupidity.  I hate watching any game they announce.  Please do something about this, because i'm not the only one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  My team won by the way! 



Since: Nov 17, 2008
Posted on: March 8, 2012 3:21 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Alabama

tsavo - I like your analysis.  I think, though, that it will be harder for Miles than Saban to bring back to back years of dominance.  I think after getting outplayed in Tuscaloosa (except for questionable calls on our part going for long FGs) then getting absolutely HANDLED by Saban in New Orleans, Miles will revert to some of his craziness in 2012 and Saban will be more than ready to re-establish what we all already knew before last year's LSU uprising, which is that Saban > Miles.  We'll certainly have to avoid the same pitfalls of entitlement thinking as the 2010 team fell into, but I think that having gone through that very experience itself will be all Saban needs to motivate the 2012 team to repeat.  I won't be certain until after I see Spring Practice, but I feel much better about 2012 than I did about 2010.  I don't think it'll be as powerful as this year's team, but then neither was the 2009 team, and they made it happen.  Bottom line:  these are great days for Bama fans.  ROLL TIDE



Since: Aug 24, 2009
Posted on: March 8, 2012 2:39 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Alabama

Well said Crimsn. Somewhere I believe (either as a criticism of him or comment by him) back-to-back NCG are ellusive for Saban himself - he has a hard time settling down just like the players coming off a championship season. There is no question we have the talent and the coaching staff to develop that talent along with a full pipeline of talent - so, I think our "demon" is learning how to deal with consistent success - which sounds funny given that we are one of the most successfull programs of all time. I believe LSU goes all the way next year and that we'll have a solid shot at the crystal ball again in '14 - just imagine, AJ as a senior with TJ and Dee in the backfield and a whole lot of guys on defense that we'll talk about for ages to come. I hope Saban stays and is happy for years to come because he can make a case for or prove he is the best of all time if he picks up a handfull of crystal balls.  Roll Tide, Roll!!!



Since: Jun 8, 2008
Posted on: March 8, 2012 2:16 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Alabama

Thats a lot to lose. Just like in 2010 when they had to replace 9 to 10 starters on defense. On top of that they still had a lot of offensive weapons left with Julio etc ... they still lost 3 games albiet 2 were by a total of 4 pts then they blew out Michigan St 49-6. I think this season will be much like 2010 .... depending on how they stack up against LSU and Arkansas. The team is there and hopefully they can coem together near the end of the season without having lost any games to that point. If so ... they could probably make a run for a repeat.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com