Posted on: January 6, 2011 8:23 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
If this whole football career thing doesn't work out for Barry Sanders Jr, maybe he can give being a college football reporter a try. Yesterday the high school running back and son of Barry Sanders broke the news that Alabama running back Mark Ingram was going to enter the NFL draft. Sanders said he was told this by Nick Saban on a recent recruiting visit.
Now, not even 24 hours later, the news has broken that Ingram is in fact going to leave Alabama, and he won't be alone when he does so. He'll be joined by defensive end Marcell Dareus.
Now Alabama fans must sit around and wait for Julio Jones to make his decision. Most people seem to think Jones will follow his teammates to the NFL, but if Andrew Luck is willing to go back to school, I'm not taking anything for granted.
Posted on: January 5, 2011 6:07 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 6:07 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
I don't think anybody would be shocked to find out that former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram was going to skip his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft. It's just that when and if the announcement was made, you'd expect it to come from Alabama or Ingram himself. However, this is not the case, as it seems that the son of a Hall of Fame running back is the one who has broken the news.
While on a recent recruiting visit to meet with Barry Sanders Jr, Nick Saban told Sanders that Ingram was going to be leaving and that he needed running backs. Sanders then leaked the news to OKBlitz.com.
Heritage Hall running back Barry Sanders, Jr. briefly met Alabama coach Nick Saban Wednesday, and Sanders said Saban told him junior running back Mark Ingram will declare for the NFL Draft.
“He just said ‘We need running backs,’” Sanders said. “How Trent [Richardson] would be a senior if I were to go [to Alabama]. He told me Ingram’s leaving, he’s making it public probably Friday.”If Ingram does leave, it would be good timing for the running back. After winning the Heisman as a sophomore, he battled through an injury this season, yet still managed to rush for 875 yards and 13 touchdowns. In reality, he has nothing left to prove on the college level. He has the Heisman, and he has a national championship ring.
Posted on: January 1, 2011 4:41 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2011 7:21 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Alabama dominates Michigan State from start to finish, bludgeoning the Spartans 49-7.
Offense: The Tide were entirely too physical for the Spartans from the get-go, with both members of the Mark Ingram-Trent Richardson tag team at running back punishing State tacklers of all varieties, particularly at the goal line. The Alabama offensive line mauled the Spartan defensive front, giving the backs huge lanes and quarterback Greg McElroy all day to throw. Julio Jones simply abused the defensive backs assigned to cover him (as shown). And McElroy showed off the precision that marked his 2009 national title run, completing 13 of his 17 passes for a whopping 12.9 yards per attempt.
Yes, that should about cover it. But somehow, given the degree of domination -- 265 first-half yards to Sparty's 67 and an easy touchdown on the first possession of the second half to push the lead to 35-0 -- it doesn't. GRADE: A
Defense: Just as overwhelming as the Tide offense. Led by a huge game from linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Nico Johnson, the Tide so limited what had been one of the Big Ten's best rushing attacks that the Spartans finished the day with -48 rushing yards. (Yes, that's right: 48 rushing yards fewer than no rushing yards at all.) The Tide pass rush did everything to poor pounded State quarterback Kirk Cousins (who left the game in the third quarter after a particularly brutal sack) but tap dance on his helmet. It took until the dying minutes of the third quarter (by which point 'Bama had already pulled many of their starters) for the Spartans to even crack triple digits in total offense. In all, a total whitewashing. GRADE: A
Coaching: The Tide came out focused and motivated, immediately applied the boot to Sparty's throat, and never removed it. Can't ask for anything more than that. GRADE: A
Offense: Cousins led a couple of nice first-half drives, one that reached the Alabama 32 and another the Tide 2. But he also had a major hand in submarining both those drives, throwing a Robert Lester interception to end the first and (following a crucial illegal substitution penalty that pushed the ball back to the 7) fumbling on yet another sack to end the second.
After those, well, the Spartan offense's day would be best summed up by a montage of quarterbacks desperately scrambling back to cover a ball 10 yards behind them, State receivers dragged down 10 yards behind the line-of-scrimmage on futile end-arounds, and wobbly players of various positions limping off the field. It was U-G-L-Y past the point of alibi. GRADE: F+
Defense: With the kind of talent boasted by the Tide, when Alabama (and particularly McElroy) is on their game, there's not always a lot any defense can do. But the "tackling" display by the Spartans -- proud, always-energetic All-American middle linebacker Greg Jones mostly excepted -- would have been borderline-embarrassing if they'd been facing the New Orleans Saints. Alabama's first five possessions, not counting the run-out-the-clock situation at the end of the first half, covered an average of 69 yards and ended: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. That, folks, is not good. GRADE: F+
Coaching: Mark Dantonio and his crew did an excellent job with this team during the season and were facing a substantial talent deficit today, but his team was far too sloppy to hang with the likes of Alabama and showed zero fight after going in at the half down 28. Offensive coordinator Don Treadwell did one of the best jobs in the country this year, but his attempts to use misdirection on slow-developing end-arounds and screens were never goign to work against a team with 'Bama's speed. GRADE: F
FINAL GRADE: Unless you were an Alabama fan or the sort who enjoys burning insects to death with a magnifying glass, this game was interesting for the 120 seconds or so Sparty drove inside the Tide 10 and a forgone-concluded utter slog for every minute thereafter. Grade: D-
Posted on: December 31, 2010 9:27 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Basics: Alabama (9-3) vs. Michigan State (11-1), Jan. 1, 1pm ET
Why You Should Watch: If you're a fan of defensive football, then this game may be your dream matchup. Now, on the surface, not many people seem to be giving Michigan State a chance in this game, and it's understandable. After all, Alabama is the defending national champ and has a bit of a chip on its shoulder following what it feels is a disappointing season. Nobody seems to be paying much attention to the fact that Michigan State has only one loss, and has been a very solid team all season. This one could turn out to be one of those New Year's Day shockers.
Keys to Victory for Alabama: I think the biggest key for Alabama in this game is that it wants to play in it. It's not crazy to think that the Tide might show some disinterest in this one. After all, this is a team that feels it's supposed to be getting ready to defend its title in ten days, or at least in a BCS bowl game. Not playing in Orlando in the "second-tier" Capital One Bowl.
Of course, on the flip side of that, this could be an angry team. One hell-bent on destroying the Spartans. If Alabama cares then I see no reason why it shouldn't pick up the victory. The Tide are more talented than Michigan State at just about every position. Plus, one of Alabama's weakness is it's pass protection and Michigan State hasn't had much of a pass rush all season. Still, that doesn't mean Alabama should fall into the trap of trying to throw all day. Yes, Julio Jones is a monster, but the secondary is probably the one aspect of this game in which Michigan State has an advantage on the Tide.
Instead we should get a healthy dose of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, and seeing those two matchup against MSU's Greg Jones is something that every college football fan should enjoy.
Keys to Victory for Michigan State: The Spartans have used a balanced offense to find success all season, and that shouldn't change in this game if they want to pull off the upset. Yes, Alabama is tough against the run, but the Spartans have a few options at running back with Edwin Baker, Le'Veon Bell and Larry Caper and have the ability to wear the Tide down.
Also, just because the Spartans will be without B.J. Cunningham -- the teams leading receiver -- that doesn't mean they don't have options in the passing game. Plus the Tide will be without Mark Barron, which will only help matters. Kirk Cousins has been one of the most underrated quarterbacks in college football this season, and he'll still have plenty of weapons at his disposal in Mark Dell, Keith Nichol, Charlie Gantt and Brian Linthicum.
The X-factor could be the speedster Keshawn Martin. He's very dangerous in space, so look for the Spartans to try and find him some.
The Capital One Bowl is like: the movie 300. The Spartans will be playing the role of the Spartans, and Alabama is the giant Persian army marching in looking to crush everything and everyone in its path. All that's missing are the air-brushed abs and gratuitous nudity. Will these Spartans emerge victorious, or end up in a pile of bodies?
Posted on: November 26, 2010 6:59 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2010 7:07 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
In an Iron Bowl for the ages, Auburn roared back from a 24-0 first-half deficit and defeated Alabama 28-27 this afternoon to remain on track for an undefeated season and BCS title game berth.
That sentence does only the barest minimum of justice, however, to an instant nominee for college football's game of the year and one of the greatest games ever played in what could be the sport's bitterest rivalry. Alabama didn't just dominate the game's first 25 minutes; they owned them lock, stock, and barrel, outgaining Auburn at one point 314 to 2. Greg McElroy had surpassed his career high in passing yards before the first half was out while Julio Jones simply did whatever he wanted to against Auburn's undersized and sloppy secondary. The comeback from 24 points ranks as the largest in Auburn history, and it still doesn't accurately represent how big a hole Auburn was in. To pull it off virtually guarantees Cam Newton the Heisman Trophy (provided the NCAA doesn't make a ruling against him in the next seven days) and Auburn's title as 2010's most distinguished comeback artists.
But that's also why as thoroughly as Auburn outplayed the Tide in the second half (the Tigers eventually pulled within 120 yards of Alabama on the total yardage ledger), the comeback truly began in the first. After scoring touchdowns on their first three drives, the Tide appeared well on their way to a fourth when Mark Ingram -- who hadn't fumbled in more than 400 touches -- was stripped from behind by Antoine Carter and saw the ball (unlukily, it has to be said) fly through the back of the end zone. The Tide's next possession ended at the 2-yard line after a first-and-goal. Another first-and-goal on the Tide's next possession ended in a McElroy fumble. Auburn trailed 24-7 at the half; they could have been down by 24, 27, 30 points with the game entirely over.
The blown opportunities continued in the second half. Late in the third, with Auburn looking to seize full control of the game, Quindarius Carr fumbled a punt to set Alabama up at the Tiger 27 and it took McElroy and Jones one play to move to Auburn's 12; they still settled for a field goal that loomed even larger once Auburn answered with the winning score on their ensuing drive. Alabama then drove inside Auburn's 35 over the course of 11 plays (and more than six precious minutes of clock), but punted after a Ingram loss and McElroy sack pushed them all the way out of field goal range. They would not threaten again.
So the headlines will discuss Newton's mental toughness, and Auburn's resilience, and Gene Chizik 's coaching staff's precision halftime adjustments, and they will have earned every one of those headlines. If there's been a bigger single-game accomplishment in college football this season than coming back from being 24 points down at Alabama, we're not aware of it.
But that doesn't mean Alabama didn't play a large role in their own demise, and that they won't be kicking themselves over letting this game get away for years (or in this rivalry, decades) to come.
For a video recap of the game, see below:
Posted on: November 26, 2010 3:11 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2010 3:15 pm
To bring coverage of the 2010 Iron Bowl full circle, Tom Fornelli will be chatting live at the CBS Sports Facebook page. Whether you believe in War Eagle, Roll Tide, or FoodHangoverHasMeOnTheCouchAnyway, cruise on over to discuss the biggest game of the year so far in the SEC. Please limit profanity to only witty jokes, and anyone who would like to complement Fornelli on his look is encouraged to.
Remember, you need to "Like" CBSSports.com on Facebook in order to join the chat. Click here to hop in on the excitement.
Posted on: November 16, 2010 10:55 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Alabama running back Trent Richardson hasn't played since scoring a touchdown during the Tide's loss to LSU nearly a week and a half ago, thanks to a knee injury he suffered on the play. Which means that Alabama's two-headed monster at running back was just a one-headed Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram against Mississippi State last Saturday. Which didn't really seem to hurt Alabama all that much during its 30-10 win.
The Tide now have a short week, as they're going to be hosting Georgia State on Thursday night, and Richardson's status for the game is still up in the air. Though Nick Saban did sound optimistic that Richardson could play in the game.
"He actually wanted to play in the last game, but we didn't feel like he'd practiced enough or he was ready enough," Saban told the AL.com. "I still think we have to evaluate that day-to-day. It will be interesting. He really didn't do anything on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, so he's had three recovery days as well as rehab days to see where he is today, and that will determine a lot as to how ready he will be to play in this game and what contribution he'll be able to make."
Which is good to hear if you're Richardson, but seriously, what exactly would be the point of playing Richardson against Georgia State if you're Alabama? You aren't going to need him to win this game, as the rest of the starters will probably be out of the game before the end of the third quarter. So why risk having Richardson aggravate the knee injury in a game he isn't needed when there's that whole Iron Bowl looming on the horizon?
Last I checked, that game means more.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 12:09 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It may sound hard to believe, but SEC teams that don't feature Cam Newton are still planning on playing their scheduled games this weekend, despite the fact that no one will be paying any attention. In fact, a few of those games are downright critical, including Alabama trying to stay alive in the SEC West race with a home win over a Mississippi State program that's made a lot of headlins recently for things that don't have much to do with their preparatiosn for the Tide.
Unfortunately for Alabama, they may have to make do without injured running back Trent Richardson :
Richardson increased his practice participation Tuesday, but the sophomore is not certain to play with knee soreness Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts Mississippi State.At a glance, you wouldn't think any program in the country could be less affected by a running back injury, since the Tide do have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to turn to. But the Tide are a stunning sixth in the SEC in rushing in conference games, Richardson is averaging more than half-yard more than Ingram per-carry and leads the team in all-purpose yardage, and Ingram hasn't gone over the 100-yard mark rushing in his past five games. The Tide have used Ingram and Richardson as a one-two punch for the better part of the past two seasons, but now that even the one-two punch isn't any more than adequate, how well will the one-one punch work out?
We're not sure of Ingram's thoughts on the subject. But we ca n tell you how he feels about ... well ...
Ingram, as last year's Heisman Trophy winner, has a vote for this year's award. Newton is the front-runner, despite allegations leveled against him over the past week ... Ingram said, if his vote were due today, Newton would likely get his vote.It's that kind of week.