Posted on: September 12, 2011 3:33 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Last week was supposed to be the week for Duron Carter, Alabama's much-hyped JUCO wide receiver transfer. The former Ohio State Buckeye and son of Cris Carter was finally supposed to hit the field after a long fall awaiting his eventual NCAA clearance, finally supposed to show some glimmer of the potential that has him rumored to be the Tide's potential gamebreaker at wideout.
That didn't happen; in fact, the school announced just before kickoff that Carter didn't even make the trip to Penn State. Per that announcement, Alabama is "awaiting documents necessary for Duron to be certified. Until those documents are received, Duron may continue practicing with the team, but he cannot compete in a game."
Not surprisingly, Saban's typically tight-lipped Monday press conference did nothing to clear up Carter's situation. "Don't even ask," he told reporters. "You'll be the first to know when we get the information, if we get the information."
And with that, Carter's chances of ever making a substantial impact on this 2011 Tide season become that much slimmer. Thanks to the eligibility concerns that held him out of all but the tail end of fall camp, Carter was already behind in getting up to speed on his assignments and game-readiness, and Saban's staff has never been one to casually throw an unprepared player (no matter how talented) into the fray. The good news for Carter was that the early-season slate of Kent State and Sept. 17 opponent North Texas should have given him ample opportunity to prove himself reliable before the Tide's critical Week 4 showdown with Arkansas.
But with Carter's eligiblity apparently still to be resolved, it's entirely possible Carter won't be able to take so much as a single snap before the Tide hit the meat of their SEC schedule. If that's the case, how much will Saban be willing to risk on an untested first-year player?
The answer might come down to how badly the Tide's receiving corps seem to need him. And right now, an extra weapon like Carter looks like he'd certainly come in handy. Though senior Marquis Maze has established himself as a legitimate No. 1 option with 12 catches (several of them of the highlight reel variety) and 160 yards, no other Tide wide receiver has more than DeAndrew White's four receptions and 44 yards ... and all four of them came in Week 1 vs. the Golden Flashes.
Thanks to the Tide's brutalizing defense and patented running game, Maze's efforts alone might be enough to raise the Tide passing game to the point where an effective Carter isn't needed for a national title. But we don't know that yet, and the longer Carter is forced to sit, the less likely it becomes he will be that effective if he is needed to take the Tide over the top.
Posted on: September 3, 2011 4:06 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 4:07 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
WHY ALABAMA WON: Many, many reasons. But one was the play of redshirt sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron, who despite still not having been named the official starter took the Tide's first snap and played the first three series, the second ending with a perfectly-placed 24-yard touchdown pass to Marquis Maze.
As for McCarron co-starter Phillip Sims, the redshirt freshman looked physically capable but simply not comfortable enough in the pocket for a national title contender. He finished 7-of-14 for just 45 yards with 2 interceptions--one a starkly poor decision that set Kent up at the 3-yard line for their only score of the game. Knowing Saban's aversion to turnovers, McCarron is now the heavy favorite to get the full-time starting nod.
WHEN ALABAMA WON: The moment the game was scheduled, frankly. But Richardson's 9-yard touchdown run to close out the first quarter with a 21-0 Alabama lead -- at which point the Tide had outgained the Flashes 157 to -3 -- made it more-or-less official.
WHAT ALABAMA WON: Given the overwhelming final margin of victory and level of defensive dominance, potentially a few more No. 1 votes in the polls if Oklahoma struggles with Tulsa later Saturday. But Saban will no doubt say the bigger positives are getting a clear leader in the quarterbacking derby, breaking in what few new starters the Tide needed to break in in a nearly pressure-less situation, and polishing up the team's handful of blemishes before the season starts in earnest at Penn State next week.
WHAT KENT STATE LOST: Maybe a little bit of confidence in their offensive execution; 89 total yards is 89 total yards. But given the opponent -- and that their Roosevelt Nix-led defensive line stood up as well as it did -- we think the boost to the Flashes' checking account and the experience of playing in front of 100,000-plus will make today a net positive for the program.
Posted on: August 24, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 2:41 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Typically, when you've got a roster like Alabama's -- which is to hoarded talent what a bomb shelter is to canned food -- the transcript issues of a single JUCO transfer aren't that big a deal.
But in the particular case of the Tide's 2011 receiving corps and former Coffeyville C.C.-by-way-of-Ohio State wideout Duron Carter, those issues may prove to be a very big deal indeed. Despite expectations that the transcript snafu would be resolved (and he would be approved for practice) shortly after the start of fall camp, Carter is still nowhere to be seen as he waits for academic clearance.
"We still don't know," Nick Saban said Tuesday regarding Carter's status. "Until we get the information back on Duron Carter, which I haven't heard anything on compliance (Tuesday), we do have a few more days to be able to get this done."
Carter is the the son of NFL receiving legend Cris Carter (who more than one wag has observed has been at Tide practice more than Duron has), and still boasts the kind of talent that made him a top-15 receiver in his 2009 class. (He's pictured at right in the 2009 Under Armour All-American game.) If Carter and Alabama can "get this done" before the start of the season, there's still plenty of time to make the kind of immediate impact many Tide fans expect. (It's not just the Crimson faithful carrying high expectations, either; Phil Steele named Carter preseason second-team All-SEC.)
But the longer Carter's absence drags out, the less and less likely that immediate impact becomes. Not only does it look more and more possible the issue could swallow his 2011 season whole, but as a first-year player in Tuscaloosa, Carter needed every minute of practice time he could get. Even if the opener against Kent State gives him some leeway before the Tide's schedule really gets going, Carter projects to be so far behind the curve it may be weeks before he's ready to become a full-on contributor.
Again: at any other position, this likely wouldn't be an issue. But after Julio Jones's early departure for the NFL, the receiving corps is the one area where the Tide could use some immediate help. Seniors Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks were both productive last season, combining for 70 receptions and better than 1,000 yards, but neither represented the kind of vertical home-run threat that Jones was or that many expect Carter to be. (It doesn't help, either, that top tight end Preston Dial has graduated, leaving behind no TE with more than eight receptions to his name a year ago.)
With Maze and Hanks around (not to mention redshirt freshman DeAndrew White, whose praises Saban has suprisingly sung throughout camp), the Tide receiving unit is still going to be well above average, Carter or no Carter. But with a first-year starter under center that may need all the help from those receivers he can get, making another national title run could require something better than simply "above average."
And that, in turn, may require Carter.
Posted on: August 5, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 5:09 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Though highly experienced, Alabama's wide receivers are one of the few areas of the 2011 Crimson Tide that might be considered a question mark, thanks to the early NFL departure of Julio Jones. Making sure that question is answered this fall will fall largely on the shoulders of senior wideout Marquis Maze, the Tide's leading returning receiver.
Maze recently spoke to CBSSports.com's Adam Aizer about filling Jones's shoes, expectations for the nation's newly-minted No. 2 team, and much more. Listen below:
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: October 2, 2010 8:37 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2010 11:10 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
8:35 - Trey Burton is not Tim Tebow. Florida had a 4th and goal from the one yard line and went for it. Burton tried to pull off the jump pass but was picked off in the end zone. Tide gets the ball back up 3-0 with 2:15 left in the first.
8:39 - It's pretty scary to consider that Trent Richardson is the second running back for Alabama. He just tore off a 30-yard run to get the Tide into Florida territory.
8:43 - The first quarter comes to an end with Greg McElroy hitting Darius Hanks for an 11-yard gain to the Florida 14-yard line. So the second quarter will start with the Tide threatening to add to their lead. Well, unless they call a jump pass.
8:48 - Mark Ingram does what Mark Ingram's done plenty of times, scoring a touchdown to give Alabama a 10-0 lead with 14:21 left until halftime. Though Trent Richardson would have gotten there quicker.
8:54 - This is an important drive for the Gators. While they don't have to get points, they need to move down the field and get some momentum behind them. If they go three and out and punt, it could be 17-0 really quick.
9:59 - Not a bad start for Florida in the second half, as Brantley hits Burton for a big gain and the Gator offense is already at midfield. If they can get a touchdown here we might almost have a game.10:02 - Brantley hits Moore on third down to set up a first and goal from the 5.
10:05 - The Gators have to settle for another field goal. FIELD GOALS AREN'T GOING TO WIN THIS GAME, URBAN. It's 24-6 Alabama and no sign of this game getting good anytime soon.
10:11 - Florida forces Alabama to punt, and it's a beauty. Downed at the one-yard line. If Florida can stop the Tide seven more times and kick seven more field goals, well,talk about excitement.
10:17 - Well that's a questionable strategy to get back in the game. Brantley is intercepted by C.J. Mosely and the freshman takes it to the house. It's 31-6 Alabama.
10:19 - Games like this really make you appreciate the idiocy of Les Miles.
10:21 - College football needs to institute some kind of mercy rule. Not to protect the feelings of the young men playing in the games, I don't care about them. I'm talking about taking mercy on my eyes.
10:24 - Aww, the stinking sideline is ruining John Brantley's interception party. He was just picked again, this time by Barron, but Barron comes down out of bounds so it doesn't count.
10:26 - On the very next play Brantley decides to just throw a pitch to Jeff Demps away, yelling "Stop this sideline! Turnover party!" Unforunately Demps never got the invitation and recovered the fumble. Let's see what Brantley tries next.
10:28 - The refs take mercy on Florida, and call a holding on Milliner to give the Gators a first down at the Alabama 15. Then on the next play Brantley throws to Moore in the end zone, and another flag is thrown. Pass interference on Milliner again. Florida is officially a charity case. Congratulations.
10:33 - Could it have gone any other way? Brantley and Moody fumble the exchange, Alabama recovers. The Brantley Turnover Extravaganza rages on.
10:36 - We start the fourth quarter with Alabama up 31-6, and ready to heap more punishment upon the Gators. Nick Saban is so happy that after the game tonight he's going to drink the blood of not one, but two babies.
10:39 - Alabama has to punt again, so it's Florida's ball once more. How will they mess it up this time? The only thing they haven't done tonight is give up a safety, so we should probably expect a Mike Pouncey snap to sail over Brantley's head and 50 yards through the back of the end zone.
10:44 - Wow, they just showed a stat that said the Tide only have 18 yards since halftime. And they're still up 25.
10:46 - I know Gillilee is out of the game with an injury, but seriously, what's the point of having Jeff Demps in the game at this point? He's already hurt, so why risk losing him next week in a game that's already decided?
10:48 - When it rains, it pours. John Brantley just got sandwiched between two Alabama players while scrambling and he's down on the ground being attended to. He looks to be in a considerable amount of pain too.
10:51 - See, this just makes no sense to me. Both coaches just saw Brantley leave the game with an injury, yet Alabama still has all their starters in. You're up 25. You're not going to lose this game. Get your reserves some play.
10:57 - Brantley is back in the game for Florida with a couple of sore ribs. Why, I don't know.
11:00 - Only 4:22 left in the game. Mercy will be taken upon us all soon enough. It's still 31-6 Alabama.
11:05 - Saban has Mark Ingram running the wildcat just to pad his stats. Well, that's awful nice, but he's going to need about 300 more yards to catch up to Denard Robinson.
11:07 - Verne points out that every one of Alabama's remaining opponents have a bye week before facing the Tide. Which doesn't seem fair, but let's be real, Alabama had a bye this week as well.
11:09 - All right, it's a final. Alabama wins 31-6. The Tide get South Carolina next week, and if they get past them the only thing I see standing in their way to the SEC championship is Cam Newton and Auburn.