Tag:Jim McElwain
Posted on: March 21, 2011 4:01 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Alabama

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.

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Receivers: Of McElroy, Ingram, and Jones, it's easy to see how McElroy (with the McCarron-Sims duo) and Ingram (with Trent Richardson) might be replaced. With Jones, it's a different story, as projected starting seniors Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze have--to this point in their careers--been more steady possession types than Jones-style uber-athletic gamebreakers. Again, the Tide likely won't need a Jones-style gamebreaker if the defense and running game return to their 2009 form, but it will nonetheless bear close watching to see if Hanks and Maze (or fellow senior Brandon Gibson or sophomore Kenny Bell or anyone else) can add at least a little explosiveness to the passing game.

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.

Posted on: December 2, 2010 1:21 pm
 

McCartney: CU job offered to Embree

Posted by Tom Fornelli

So about that whole three finalists for the Colorado job post we put up a little while ago, it seems that there is only one finalist.  At least, that's what former Colorado head coach Bill McCartney is saying.  According to McCartney, who himself was a candidate for the job, the school has offered the job to former tight end and current Redskins tight ends coach Jon Embree.

Embree has been given a formal offer for the position with hopes that he'll hire Eric Bieniemy, another finalist for the job, the position of offensive coordinator.  McCartney says that while he was a candidate for the job, as soon as it became clear that he wasn't going to get the job, he started pushing for either Embree or Bieniemy.

"It was never about me doing it again," McCartney told The Denver Post. "It was about setting the table for a black man to come in (as head coach). And he (Mike Bohn) hired one. Now, give him a chance."

The report also says that neither Embree or Mike Bohn could be reached for comment, and that the word around the Washington Redskins office is that Embree has received the offer and is mulling it over.

Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain was also considered a finalist, but was deemed a longshot since he had no ties to the school.
Posted on: December 2, 2010 12:38 pm
 

Colorado search down to three

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's beginning to look like at least one of the head coaching vacancies out there could be filled soon enough.  

After interviewing Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain this week, it seems Colorado is done interviewing candidates to replace Dan Hawkins, and according to the Boulder Daily Camera those finalists are McElwain and former Buffaloes Eric Bieniemy (pictured) and Jon Embree.

It's been reported in recent days that Bieniemy, a former running back at Colorado and current running backs coach with the Minnesota Vikings, is the favorite to land the job.  In fact, he and Embree are both the odds-on favorites to get the job.  Yes, McElwain is a finalist for the position, but it hasn't been a secret that most people associated with the school prefer a new coach with ties to the program.

McElwain has no such ties.

According to the report, Colorado could make the decision as soon as Friday, but no later than Monday.  
Posted on: November 3, 2010 12:43 pm
 

Malzahn leaves Colorado door open, sort of

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

One of the most talked-about columns to emerge in the college football media this past week has been this one by the Denver Post 's John Henderson, which not only confidently claims that Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins won't survive into the 2011 season but offers an early shortlist for his replacement. The four names allegedly being considered by Buffs brass: Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain , retired former Colorado head coach Bill McCartney , LSU head coach Les Miles , and Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn .

Of those four, Miles is widely seen as unattainable; McCartney (who has been out of coaching for the past  16 seasons) is seen as old and potentially out-of-touch; and McElwain is seen, as, well, the less-exciting of the two Alabama-based coordinators. Which has focused most of the speculation in response to Henderson's column on Malzahn, whose go-go offense has transformed Auburn from one of the SEC 's worst attacks to one of the nation's best in two short seasons (not to mention turning Cam Newton into the Hesiman front-runner). His approach would seem to be a good fit both for the Buffs' move to the high-scoring Pac-12 and for a Colorado fanbase that could use some excitement after the stultifying Hawkins tenure.

But Malzahn, like his quarterback , has already taken enough turns on the coaching speculation carousel to know not to give anything away this early :

"To be honest, I’m in my own little world," he said. "My entire focus is on this team and making it the best it can be. I’m extremely happy. I’ve said that time and time again. I love coach (Gene ) Chizik and I love coaching these kids. And my only focus is trying to win games and trying to win a championship."

"Somewhere down the line I’d like to [become a head coach]," he said. "I’m in no hurry. I feel like a lot of people think I am. But like I’ve said before, we’ve got a good thing going here and I’d like to see it through.”
This is standard boilerplate for a coach who's a candidate for another job in midseason, but of course that boilerplate is something other than "I'll be at Auburn next year" or "I'm not going to Colorado."

So the door for a move to Boulder still is, in the most technical sense of the metaphor, still open. But at this premilinary stage, reading anything into Malzahn's comments other than that he doesn't want to comment is reading too much into them.





 
 
 
 
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