Posted on: April 8, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 3:45 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Every Friday we catch up on four stories you might have missed during the week ... and add a few extra links to help take you into the weekend.
FOUR LINKS ...
1. It's not easy for a school like Mississippi State to keep up with the Joneses of the SEC when it comes to the facilities arms race ... but $12 million worth of private donation sure helps. The artist's rendition of the future "Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex" (which will house practice fields a weight room, coaches' offices, etc.) looks like so:
2. It sounds like new Colorado coach Jon Embree isn't wasting any time reshaping the Buffaloes roster. Though a round of cuts (unfortunately) isn't exactly unprecedented for a new coaching administration, it will be interesting to see if there's any pushback from the Boulder media or academic types over his cancellation of scholarships for "effort"-related reasons that seem to straddle the "violation of team rules" line.
One player who won't mind Embree's arrival regardless: Buff kicker Justin Castor, who watched Dan Hawkins burn his redshirt last season to attempt just one field goal.
3. Unlike most sports teams, when choosing a design for their Rose Bowl championship rings, TCU went reserved, classy, tasteful :
Or, perhaps, the opposite of that. (Not that they don't deserve rings that would fit around this blogger's wrist, of course.)
4. After the success of last year's Illinois-Northwestern game at Wrigley Field (and that in the face of the "offense only faces one way" debacle), it's no surprise that the Boston Red Sox would consider hosting a college football game of their own at Fenway Park. Though such a game is still just a twinkle in the Sox executive's eye at this stage, it's no surprise that Boston College fans would like to volunteer their team's services.
AND THE CLOUD ...
Cal receiver Tevin Carter has left the Bears program citing a lack of interest in football; Carter did not catch a pass last season ... "Top-level donors" at Arizona State are getting a sneak peek at the team's new uniforms ... Minnesota signee Peter Westerhaus suffered a skull fracture and received 50 stitches after being hit in the face by a boulder on a family hiking trip in the Grand Canyon. He'll be fine for fall practice, though ... Staying with the Gophers, a bill to allow alcohol sales in TCF Bank Stadium's "premium seating" has made it through committee ... The intensity of the Iron Bowl rivalry extends itself to a gymnastics meet, not that you should be surprised by that ... And speaking of Auburn, reserve linebacker Jessel Curry and reserve safety Ryan Smith are not currently with the Tigers during spring practice, though the door to their return doesn't sound closed yet ... And speaking of Alabama, here's 50 photos (!) illustrating the process (pun intended ) of bringing the Tide's new Nick Saban statue to, uh, life ... A useful look at the SEC's overall athletic program program margins, of which football is obviously the largest part ... Things got feisty at Texas A&M's practice this week ... The most in-depth 2011 preview of UL-Monroe you're going to find, courtesy of new stats-loving blog Football Study Hall .
Tags: Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Big Ten, Boston College, Cal, Colorado, Fenway Park, Friday Four Links, Illinois, Iron Bowl, Jessel Curry, Jone Embree, Justin Castor, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Mountain West, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, Northwestern, Pac-12, Peter Westerhaus, Rose Bowl, Ryan Smith, SEC, TCU, Tevin Carter, Texas A&M, UL-Monroe, ULM, Wrigley Field
Posted on: April 4, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: April 4, 2011 1:08 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Having already updated the quarterback battle at one of the two SEC co-favorites earlier today in LSU , it's worth a look at how the same issue is playing out at the other, Alabama. The only problem is that at this stage, it doesn't sound like there's anything to report in the push-and-pull between redshirt freshman Phillip Sims and third-year sophomore A.J. McCarron (pictured):
The final decision of choosing a replacement for two-year starter Greg McElroy, ultimately to be made by coach Nick Saban, isn't expected until preseason practice.To hear Saban tell it, you might expect the stats from the scrimmage to lean heavily to one QB or the other, but even there, Sims and McCarron were nearly even; Sims went 20-of-30 for 235 yards with a 3-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, while McCarron finished 18-of-33 for 189 and a 3-to-1 ratio. Though McCarron probably remains a slight favorite based on his extra year at the Capstone (and Saban's praise means that Tide fans should be encouraged regardless), it's still far too early -- and the quarterbacks apparently too evenly matched -- to declare either one a leader in the Tide's quarterbacking race.
That might not be the case down the road at Ole Miss, where Randall Mackey has emerged as the Rebels' potential starter and, at the least, the most impressive quarterback of the Rebels' spring so far:
In a four-man battle for positioning on the depth chart at quarterback for Ole Miss, Mackey seemed to finish the first week a little better than the rest. In Saturday's 115-play scrimmage, he was 5-for-8 for 51 yards and a touchdown pass threaded with savvy into the back of the end zone for Korvic Neat ...If any of the other Rebel quarterbacks could have been expected to make the battle close, you'd have expected it to be Nathan Stanley, the junior who had the job won last spring before Jeremiah Masoli's transfer pushed him into the backup's role. But Stanley went just 3-of-9 in the scrimmage for only 11 yards.
It's not time just yet to side with the spectator who clearly believes the race is over. But with Mackey's apparent momentum -- and Stanley's current inability to match it -- it does seem fair to say that Mackey has earned the inside track to be under center when the Rebels open against BYU Sept. 3.
Posted on: March 28, 2011 7:34 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Given that he's the son of NFL wide receiver Cris Carter, Duron Carter garnered quite a bit of attention when he committed to Ohio State out of high school. His first year in Columbus didn't exactly blow anybody away, as he only had 13 receptions and 1 touchdown. Equally unimpressive were Duron's grades, and he left the school for junior college last season. The original plan had been for Carter to get his grades in order and return to Columbus, but that's no longer in the cards.
Now the word is that Carter could be back on a BCS campus this season with Alabama. A report at al.com says that Alabama has an inside track to land Duron, and according to his father, it's because of the man calling the shots in Tuscaloosa.
"The head coach is as good as it gets," said Cris Carter. "They have structure. Nick Saban provides the kind of environment you look for. There is no better teacher in the game than Nick and his staff. We like the fact that they run a pro style offense. They have a need at the receiver position. They don't have a [big, physical] receiver like Duron right now."
Of course, this doesn't mean that Duron is going to end up with the Tide. He's also made trips to visit LSU and Miami.
At Coffeyville Community College in Kansas last season, Carter caught 44 passes for 690 yards and 10 touchdowns in nine games.
Posted on: March 27, 2011 2:09 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Alabama faces the not-so-easy task of replacing behemoth Marcell Dareus on its defensive line in 2011, and so far spring practice isn't doing much to help the Tide find a replacement. Last week Kerry Murphy suffered a knee injury that will cost him the chance to play and compete this spring, and on Saturday night Nick Saban announced another defensive lineman will be on the sidelines for a while.
Saban told reporters on Saturday night that defensive end Brandon Moore has been suspended indefinitely for that old standby, a violation of team rules and policy. Saban didn't make it sound like Moore would be back within a couple of days, either.
"That's indefinite," said the coach. "We don't know what's happening there."
Moore isn't the first member of the Tide defense to be suspended this spring, as cornerback Robby Green was suspended last Monday for violating team rules as well.
Moore played in four games as a freshman in 2010, making three tackles.
Posted on: March 22, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: March 22, 2011 11:42 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Yesterday's first day of spring practice at Alabama also meant Nick Saban's first spring meeting with the media, and he surprised no one by stating that recently arrested All-American safety Mark Barron would be punished "internally" after lying to police officers.
But that wasn't the only news Saban delivered:
Alabama senior Robby Green was not at practice Monday after he was suspended by the team for violating team rules and policies, Saban said.When all is said and done, it's unlikely a first-time offender (and critical defensive leader) like Barron misses any time this fall, or even much this spring. (He participated fully in the first day of spring drills.)
But with Green, it's a different story; though a major contributor at safety in the Tide's run to the 2009 national championship, he was suspended for the entirety of the 2010 season for NCAA-related violations. Few players get so much as a second chance after that kind of misstep under Saban, much less the third Green will now apparently require.
Until Saban says otherwise, the safe assumption is that Green is still a member of the Crimson Tide and is on track to take the field this fall. But the Tide have also once again signed more players this past Signing Day than they would appear to have room for under the 85-scholarship limit, and will likely see an offseason roster exodus similar to those of the past three summers in Tuscaloosa.
If that does prove to be the case, Green has positioned himself as one of the most likely candidates to look for a less suspension-hampered college football home.
For more on the Tide's spring practice, check out our Alabama Spring Practice Primer .
Posted on: March 21, 2011 4:01 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Alabama , who starts spring practice today .
Spring Practice Question: Does Alabama have the offense to win another national championship? Or, alternatively, do they really need one?
As spring practice opens today in Tuscaloosa, most eyes are going to be on the revamped Tide offense, and with good reason; with no Greg McElroy, no Mark Ingram, and no Julio Jones, the Alabama attack is going to undergo a more thorough overhaul than any it's undergone since Jones and Ingram burst onto the scene in 2008.
But it's also because there's not a lot for most eyes to see on the Tide defense. With 9 or 10 starters back from a unit already ranked fifth in the nation in total defense, including the entirety of the Tide's linebacking and secondary groups with those including All-American safety Mark Barron and potential All-American linebacker Dont'a Hightower , on paper this will certainly be one of the FBS's best defenses. And the Tide may look even better on the field than they do on paper; after last year's (relative) 10-3 disappointment and occasional backbreaking defensive letdowns (as vs. Auburn and LSU), there's little doubt Nick Saban is going to be at his most firebreathingly intense (and most scrupulously detailed) this offseason.
In short, the defensive show put on this spring isn't likely to be any different from what Tide observers already saw prior to the Tide's undefeated regular seasons in 2008 and 2009. The offense, on the other hand, has several issues to resolve:
Quarterback: Certainly the most high-profile of those issues, the starting quarterback job will be contested this spring by sophomore A.J. McCarron and redshirt freshman Phillip Sims. McCarron boasts the advantages of an extra year in Jim McElwain's offense and a modicum of playing time in 2010 (that's him at right in the Tide's laugher against Duke), but in the end Saban seems likely to select whichever quarterback can be safer with the ball. Opposite that defense, playmaking ability may come second in importance to not-turnover-making ability. That goes double considering the ...
Offensive line: One of college football's biggest mysteries during the 2010 season was why a previously dominant rushing attack featuring a Heisman Trophy winner at tailback and an offensive line loaded with both talent and experience wound up seventh in the SEC in total rushing in conference games. Don't expect Saban to let it happen again, Ingram or no Ingram, with new line coach Jeff Stoutland lighting a fire under talents like former five-star tackle D.J. Fluker, All-SEC guard Barrett Jones, and veteran center William Vlachos. Still, Tide fans will no doubt want to be reassured that numbers like the 2.3 yards per-carry Alabama averaged in their three losses a year ago are a thing of the past.
The running backs aren't nearly as much of a question mark; after biding his time for two years alongside Ingram, Richardson should be ready to fully establish himself one of the SEC's best, and even if he's not (or struggles with injuries), powerful sophomore Eddie Lacy or true freshman (and spring enrollee) Dee Hart should be able to pick up the slack. Pair them with the defense described above, and it's easy to see the Tide making a run at yet another national title if the line can get back to its road-grading ways and the passing attack can be simply competent.
How big an "if" is that? We'll start to find out these next few weeks, and there's no doubt plenty of observers across the SEC (and maybe the country) hoping it proves bigger than we expect it to be.
Tags: A.J. McCarron, Alabama, Auburn, Barrett Jones, Brandon Gibson, D.J. Fluker, Darius Hanks, Dee Hart, Dont'a Hightower, Duke, Eddie Lacy, Greg McElroy, Jeff Stoutland, Jim McElwain, Julio Jones, Kenny Bell, LSU, Mark Barron, Mark Ingram, Marquis Maze, Nick Saban, Phillip Sims, SEC, spring practice, Spring Practice Primer, Trent Richardson, William Vlachos
Posted on: March 4, 2011 5:15 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
So who is going to replace Greg McElroy at Alabama next season? Will it be A.J. McCarron or Phillip Sims? Maybe it will be Phillip Ely?
These are questions that Nick Saban is going to be hearing a lot in the coming months, and he seems fine with it. According to the Alabama head coach, it doesn't matter how many times the question of who Alabama's new quarterback will be is asked, he's not in any rush to answer it.
"I know that every press conference between now and whatever is going to be about the quarterback," Saban said. "I'm not going to have a lot to say about it. This is something that you have to let happen and you have to let develop. Even though it may create a great news story every day it's something that cannot be affected by anything other than what happened on the field.
"Obviously we'll have a new quarterback one way or the other. Without creating a quarterback controversy of any kind, and I would appreciate it if we don't, somebodies going to have to earn the job through their ability to manage the team, lead the team and make good choices and decisions that allows them to play winning football on the team. That has to be determined and there's no timetable to determine it."
If any of the quarterbacks have an edge, it'd likely be McCarron. He has the most experience as he threw 48 passes for the Tide last season, completing 30 of them for 389 yards and 3 touchdowns. Sims on the other hand spent the entire year being redshirted, and Ely was in high school last year. So for either of them to take the job, they'll have to play extremely well this spring.
Posted on: March 1, 2011 12:13 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Yes, given his tan, Nick Saban generally looks bronze year round, but we're talking the real bronze here. The metal bronze. You see, it was about this time last year that word first surfaced Alabama would be unveiling some statues honoring Nick Saban much like it has other head coaches who won national titles in Tuscaloosa. The original plan was for the statue to be unveiled at Alabama's spring game last March, known as A-Day, but that simply wasn't enough time. Then the school set a target date for the season opener last fall, but that wasn't enough time either.
So the latest unveiling is set to be on this year's A-Day, and it looks as though things may be on schedule this time. TideSports.com has some photos of the statue, and it looks just about finished to me.
Of course, the statue isn't completely finished just yet, and they are currently in Oklahoma. So while the goal is to have them on campus for A-Day, there's no guarantee it will be ready in time. Though what I want to know is if there are any Auburn fans within driving distance of the statues right now who will drive over there and poison the statue. And by poison the statue, I mean cut its head off Jebediah Springfield-style.