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Saban Liking His 2014 Alabama Team So Far

gfx-they-said-it4When you win a national championship, it’s only natural to become a bit complacent.  When you win two in a row, it’s even easier to take the foot off the accelerator.  ”We got this,” the mind assures.

So it was little wonder that Nick Saban’s 2013 team — a squad going for a third crown in a row — failed to improve after an emotional win over LSU.  ”We got this,” they must have thought.  Instead, Auburn got them on the weirdest final play this side of a Cal/Stanford game.  And then Oklahoma got all over the Crimson Tide in a Sugar Bowl rout.

This year’s Bama players have no reason to believe they can just roll their helmets out onto the turf scaring their foes into a pregame surrender.  And one scrimmage into spring practice, Nick Saban says he likes his team’s attitude:

 

“I thought that for the first scrimmage (on Saturday), I was really pleased with the effort and intensity that the players had.  I really like the attitude of this team, in terms of how they go about what they try to do, how they word and the effort they give, the mental and physical toughness they play with.  A lot of guys come out and be conscientious to do a good job, and I think it shows in the way we play and the way we compete.”

 

That’s about as effusive as Saban gets when it comes to praise.  Let’s see if Saban is still just as happy when the curtain falls on his team’s spring drills.

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Top Five Offensive Line Signees For 2014

RECAPThe SEC is known across the country for its physical style of play.

That’s made the tackle position a critical one in recruiting for SEC coaches. Players like Luke Joeckel, Cyrus Kouandjio and Greg Robinson have played key roles in teams’ SEC success in recent years.

Here are the top five offensive tackle signees in the SEC in the 2014 class

1. Cam Robinson – Alabama

Robinson might be the top overall prospect in the country considering he plays such an important position. He looked dominant at times at The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., last summer. Robinson (6-6, 325) enrolled early at Alabama and will have a chance to play immediately this fall. He should become the next great tackle for the Crimson Tide.

2. Brian Wallace – Arkansas

It was a huge get for Arkansas when it went to St. Louis and landed Wallace, who’s ranked the top prospect in the state of Missouri by Rivals. Arkansas is hopeful Wallace (6-6, 305) will be able to help right away, possibly at right tackle this fall. He has “nothing but upside in front of him,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said on signing day.

3. Avery Gennesy – Texas A&M 

Gennesy arrives at Texas A&M at a good time. The Aggies have to replace left tackle Jake Matthews, who’s expected to be selected early in the NFL draft. Gennesy (6-5, 310) should team up with Cedric Ogbuehi to form a nice tackle duo on Texas A&M’s offensive line.

4. Coleman Thomas – Tennessee

Thomas is learning the offensive tackle position at Tennessee after playing center in high school. The good news is Thomas (6-6, 311) enrolled early at Tennessee, which should help him be more comfortable by fall camp. The Vols have to replace all five starting offensive linemen. That will give Thomas a chance to see the field this fall.

5. Dominick Jackson – Alabama

Jackson was signed by Alabama coach Nick Saban to help the Crimson Tide immediately. Jackson (6-7, 304) has experience playing tackle and guard, which will give him a greater opportunity to help this fall. It also will give Saban options as he tries to settle on five starting offensive linemen.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Defensive End Jennings Chooses Alabama

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxDefensive end Anfernee Jennings from Dadeville (Ala.) High School committed to Alabama on Thursday.

Jennings received a scholarship offer from the Crimson Tide during a visit to Tuscaloosa last weekend. He only needed a few days to pull the trigger on his commitment.

“I just felt like it was time,” Jennings told AL.com. “(Alabama) is the place that suits me and where I fit in the best. Not only will they help me become a greater football player, but become the man I would love to be later on in life.

“I kept praying about it and will continue to.”

Jennings, whose offer list includes Arkansas, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Arizona State and Louisville, will continue to consider other schools. He said he plans to take all five official visits this fall, according to AL.com.

Alabama will continue to recruit Jennings to keep him from going elsewhere. He was a key target for the Crimson Tide after coaches were able to evaluate him in person, according to Andrew Bone of TideSports.com. He wrote in part:

“(Jennings) has the ability to do a lot of different things. He can play defensive end or linebacker. He has been coached well throughout his high school career.  He knows and understands the game.  He knows how to shoot his hands and fight off blocks.  He is an aggressive defender coming off the ball.”

Jennings is the eighth prospect to commit to Alabama’s 2015 class, which is ranked No. 2 in the nation behind Texas A&M in the Rivals Team Rankings.

 

Dean chooses Arkansas

Defensive end Daytrieon Dean committed to Arkansas last weekend.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Elam Chooses In-State Kentucky

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxKentucky received the news it had been waiting for on Thursday when defensive tackle Matt Elam from John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown, Ky., announced his commitment to the Wildcats.

Elam chose Kentucky over Alabama.

“The whole time I was just struggling to pick a school,” he said, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. “It’s hard to turn down Alabama, and it’s crazy that I did. But I feel my heart is at the University of Kentucky — that was the main thing.”

Elam became a main target for Kentucky’s coaching staff early in the recruiting process. The Wildcats knew keeping him from leaving the state would be difficult.

“Coach Stoops is doing something right,” John Hardin coach Chad Lewis told the Herald Leader. “He can’t build this program in one year. The way the program was … it was on a downhill slide.

“It’s going to take some time to rebuild it. The way to rebuild a program is to recruit the best players, and you have to go after the best players. When you land these type of kids, your program’s going to change.”

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has certainly helped improve the Wildcats’ recruiting. Kentucky has 27 commitments for the 2014 class, which is ranked No. 13 in the nation by Rivals.com.

Elam’s commitment means Kentucky has landed three of the state’s top five prospects for 2014. He believes that will be a key in Stoops’ attempt to turn the program around.

“I feel like that’s one of the main reasons why I stayed is just to help out my home-state program, because to have a good program you need great players,” Elam said. “And it has to start with those in-state kids just to be the cornerstone of that. So I feel like me and Drew, we stayed home, and I feel like we’re definitely gonna help out Coach Stoops and the UK program.”

 

Humphrey chooses Alabama

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey from Hoover (Ala.) High School announced his commitment to Alabama this week.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 1/24/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Florida 68 – Alabama 62. Video Highlights

1. Florida’s winning streak goes to 10 games. Coach Billy Donovan now 7-0 against his former assistant Anthony Grant.

2. Crimson Tide never led in game – fall to 2-3 in SEC playAnthony Grant: “They are the sixth-ranked team in the country for a reason.”

Saturday Schedule

Vanderbilt at Texas A&M

Georgia at Kentucky

Mississippi State at Ole Miss

South Carolina at Missouri

Tennessee at Florida

Auburn at Arkansas

LSU at Alabama

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Davis’ Game-Winning TD Ball From Iron Bowl Could Be Worth $100,000

chris-davis-return-in-iron-bowlFirst things first, Auburn University has tracked down the ball Chris Davis carried as he scored the game-winning touchdown in last Saturday’s Iron Bowl.  You can expect it to be displayed prominently somewhere on the AU campus moving forward.

But one sports memorabilia expert says that ball could fetch up to $100,000 if put on the market.  Brandon Steiner told Bloomberg.com that the game-winning pigskin is “one of the great balls from one of the great games.”

Technically, that ball would be worth whatever the biggest spender and/or craziest Auburn fan would be willing to spend on it.  There are probably some well-oiled Tiger backers who’d throw down more than 100K for the ball… if it were to be put up for auction… which it won’t be.

Once retrieved, the ball was presented to Auburn AD Jay Jacobs who’s gone from idiot (“He hired Gene Chizik.”) to genius (“He hired Gene Chizik!”) to idiot (“He hired Gene ‘Frickin’ Chizik.”) and back to genius again (“He hired Gus Malzahn!”) in a span of four years.

Ironically, since Alabama was kicking on the play, the ball in question was actually a Crimson Tide football.  But Alabama has no desire to get the ball back and it bears no Crimson Tide logos, unlike most school-supplied footballs of the age.  Again, expect it to be put on display somewhere on the Auburn campus.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 11/19/2013

gfx-hoops-round-upArkansas 89 – SMU 78. Video Highlights

1. Razorbacks move to 3-0 as Arkansas shoots 11-of-22 behind three-point arc.  Alandise Harris led the team with 21 points.

Alabama 102 – Stillman 65

2. Crimson Tide hit triple digits for the first time since 2005.  11 players scored – six of them with double figures. Crimson Tide goes to 2-1.

Florida 67 – Southern 63

3. Gators move to 3-1 on the season but freshman Kasey Hill injures his ankle – will have X-Rays today. Scottie Wilbekin still suspended for Thursday’s game against Middle Tennessee State.

Tennessee 86 – The Citadel 60. Video Highlights

4. 2-1 Vols led by 20 points by Jordan McRae.

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SEC Gameday Links: Tuscaloosa Saturday Night

gameday linksLSU at Alabama

1. Since 2008, 72 players from this series have gone on to play in the NFL.

2. Alabama wants to stop the LSU rushing attack and force LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger to make plays.

3. Why the focus on the LSU quarterback? “Zach Mettenberger is 1-5 when it really matters.”

4. Toughest task for the Alabama defense since Texas A&M?

5. One of the ways Nick Saban disciplines his players.  ”Just go over there and stand in the box.”

6. “Rightly or wrongly, fair or unfair, LSU coaches are defined by their success against Alabama.”

7. LSU upset of the Crimson Tide?  Here’s how they can do it.

8. MrSEC view: “Don’t expect another 9-6 slugfest like the one we saw two years ago in Tuscaloosa.”

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Saban Not Happy With Alabama Fans Leaving Early

empty-bama-stadiumUh-oh.

Is this the kind of thing that could drive a man to leave Alabama for Texas?  (Pause for gasps.)  Probably not.

Still, Nick Saban is a little PO’d at the large number of Crimson Tide fans who vamoosed from Bryant-Denny Stadium before the end of Bama’s 52-0 rout of Arkansas last weekend.  The coach voiced his PO’edness yesterday:

 

“I’ve talked about players playing for 60 minutes in the game and competing for 60 minutes in the game.  And, in some kind of way, everybody that chooses to go to the game should stay there and support the team for the game…

Maybe if you’re not interested in doing that, you should let someone else go who would really like to go because I have a lot of people who want to go.”

 

Zing.  And that is the kind of statement only a coach with multiple BCS titles can make.  Let’s see Dan Mullen or Will Muschamp float a comment like that and see what the response is.

Saban sees the early exits as a hindrance to UA recruiting.  “We have lots of recruits there, we like to see an enthusiastic, full stadium,” he said.  “We have a beautiful stadium and one of the nicest venues in all of college football and I think we all should show our appreciation for it by staying and supporting our team for the whole game.”

 

UPDATE — The second link from the above story takes you to Michael Casagrande’s story on this subject at Al.com.  The photo is from Mr. Casagrande’s report as well.

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Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Reinstated By NCAA

mrsec-breaking-newsAlabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has been reinstated by the NCAA and is eligible to play for the Crimson Tide this weekend against Arkansas.

Clinton-Dix served a two-game suspension for allegedly receiving a loan of less than $500 from assistant strength and conditioning coach Corey Harris, who was placed on administrative leave on Oct. 3. The loan had been repaid by Clinton-Dix before his suspension was announced, according to TideSports.com.

Clinton-Dix, who was selected first team All-SEC by the media before the season began, has 24 tackles in four games played this season.

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