Chat with Alex Scarborough
Welcome to TideNation! On Thursday, reporter Alex Scarborough stops by to chat about the state of Alabama football.
Scarborough joined ESPN.com in 2012 after covering University of Alabama athletics and high school football for The Tuscaloosa News. He currently resides in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Send your questions now and join Scarborough Thursday at noon ET!
Alex Scarborough (12:01 PM)
Welcome to another turn in the chat forum. I'm excited to spend the next hour answering your questions about Alabama football. The Tide travel to Missouri on Saturday.
If Bama makes it to Atlanta, do they match up, in terms of winning, better with SC, FL or Georgia?
Alex Scarborough (12:04 PM)
Last week, I would have told you Georgia. The combination of Murray at quarterback and Jarvis Jones on pass rush would be enough to threaten Alabama.But South Carolina put the kibosh on that, and found their way into the conversation. I like both USC and UF equally. Both have mobile QBs, solid running games and stout defenses. I give USC a slight edge because I feel Lattimore is getting better with each week and the Gamecocks have a better special teams unit.
Since LSU will lose this weekend, how far do you think they will they drop in the polls?
Alex Scarborough (12:07 PM)
LSU will lose this weekend? Have we learned nothing about college football? Anything -- anything! -- can happen, and it's not like LSU is suddenly a horrible football team. With that defense, anything can happen. And given the injury troubles of Connor Shaw, I wouldn't be surprised if he's not the one finishing the game under center for South Carolina. Yes, the Gamecocks have the momentum and LSU is reeling, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. If the Tigers do lose, they'll drop -- my guess would be somewhere around 20 or so.
Can Bama handle Mizz's fast paced no huddle offense?
Alex Scarborough (12:09 PM)
That's the question of the week. The no huddle has been something of a concern for Alabama. It limits the ability to substitute personnel and can limit what coaches can do calling plays. That said, Alabama has experience with it after facing Ole Miss last and playing a few other teams this year that run it. If James Franklin were back there, it might be a different story, but with a backup QB I think the Tide will handle it just fine.
Will Bama try to pressure the Mizz QB this week? If so how will they do it, blitz's or stunts?
Alex Scarborough (12:12 PM)
Yes, and both. Alabama is so complex on defense in masking what they do. You'll see stunts and you'll see safeties blitzing off the edge. But against Missouri, you might see a little bit of playing containment like we saw against Michigan and daring Berkstresser to throw the football.
Alex Scarborough (12:13 PM)
On a side note: I'm saddened to see the news of Beano Cook's passing in his sleep. He was 81 years old. As Ivan Maisel pointed out, "If you love college football, you will miss him."
Show time Alex! What have you seen at practice the last 2 weeks?
Alex Scarborough (12:16 PM)
Much of the same. We get to see the first few minutes of practice which contains mostly drills, not formations or alignments. What you will see different than most weeks is Brent Calloway at RB. He's taking over the spot vacated by Dee Hart after sustaining a season-ending knee injury. Also, it appears Kevin Norwood is ready to play where in recent weeks he had been limited. Starting CB Deion Belue was back at practice and participating fully by the looks of it yesterday. He's a key to what Bama does on defense.
Adonis (Birmingham, AL)
Any update on Brandon Ivory?
Alex Scarborough (12:17 PM)
He's been at practice participating. We've been given no reason to believe he won't be available on Saturday.
Greg Shelton (Cookeville, TN)
You got us an early prediction Bama vs. ut ? Thanks and ROLL TIDE !!
Alex Scarborough (12:19 PM)
An early prediction, you say? Well, a lot depends on what happens this weekend. But in the interest of answering your question, I'll say this: No team will have tested Alabama's secondary like Tennessee does on Oct. 20 in Knoxville. That said, I don't think it will be enough to equal a win for Dooley's boys. They're too one-dimensional on offense right now.
Has Bama ever played Mizz before, is so, when and where?
Alex Scarborough (12:20 PM)
The last time Alabama played Missouri was 1978 in Columbia. Alabama won 38-20, but the Tigers own the all-time record at 2-1.
Do you think that any running back has really stepped up this year to say, hey coach I'm the go to guy. Me personally, I like Yeldon just because of the simple fact of Lacy's injury problems that he has faced.
Alex Scarborough (12:24 PM)
I don't think there necessarily has to be a "go-to guy" at running back for Alabama to be successful. But if there were, it's Lacy. He's looked very good -- and very healthy -- the last few games and knows the offense best. Yeldon has excellent talent and has shown well so far, but he's still a rookie and he still has trouble in pass coverage at times. There's more to playing the position than carrying the football, so I give Lacy the edge. Frankly, it's not that close, either.
With the BCS polls coming out Sunday, do you see any team other than Bama at number 1? I'll hang up and listen
Alex Scarborough (12:25 PM)
Because of poor strength of schedule, which is no fault of Alabama's because Michigan and Arkansas should have been top 25 wins, I think there's a better than 50 percent chance that Alabama isn't No. 1.
Do you think we'll be seeing more of Cyrus Jones in the near future? I want to see more of that run and catch he had against FAU
Alex Scarborough (12:27 PM)
I believe we will. With DeAndrew out for the year, it moves him one spot up on the depth chart. Remember he started out fall camp being moved around at RB/WR/PR/KR. He still may be learning the offense and getting comfortable at receiver. Another guy to look for is Marvin Shinn. Alabama's used him some at tight end and he certainly has the big body to be a possession receiver.
Michael Kimbrough (AL)
Do you still think it will be Alabama, and Oregon in Miami at the end of the year?
Alex Scarborough (12:29 PM)
I think that's a solid bet. But don't feel so sure about Alabama. The Tide haven't been tested yet. UA still must play Tennessee, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, LSU, Auburn and either UF/USC/UGA in Atlanta if it goes that far. Surviving that will be difficult. Also, don't count out West Virginia.
Bama has a great and solid defense and leads the nation in defense. The one area that we have not done a whole lot in though is sacks. Do you think we are blitzing a lot less this year or do the offenses we play just understand our schemes better?
Alex Scarborough (12:32 PM)
Actually, neither. Sacks are a misleading stat at Alabama because of the way Saban designs his defense. (UA is actually on pace to have more sacks than last year). The goal of the defense is to disguise the pass rush and affect the quarterback. If that ends in a sack, great. If not, no biggie. Interceptions and turnovers happen when you pressure the backfield and both are better than a sack at the end of the day.
Andy Somers (Huntsville, AL)
Most serious threat remaining on regular season schedule?
Alex Scarborough (12:33 PM)
In this order: LSU (Yes, still), Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Tennessee. Don't sleep on the Aggies.
Marc (Morgantown )
Is Nick jealous of high powered offenses and is he scared of them. Can Geno dominate a Alabama defense
Alex Scarborough (12:36 PM)
Jealous? No, not really. Scared? Not the word I'd use. I'd say he is frustrated by no-huddle offenses that take advantage of substitution rules and get the defense out of whack. Is he right to have that opinion? Maybe, maybe not. Teams that employ the no-huddle are operating within the rulebook. As far as if Geno could dominate an Alabama defense, I'd think you'd have to define "dominate." Could he do well? Absolutely. Could he get dominated himself and throw three picks? That could happen, too, because he hasn't faced as stout a defense and as complex a defense as Alabama runs in their conference.
Alex Quebec (France)
Do you attend all of Bama's games and is it true the media gets free food? If so, is the food good?
Alex Scarborough (12:37 PM)
Yes, I attend all the games and there is free food. Is it good? Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not. But really, free food is always good food, right?
Our up front protection seems to be better this year, but it seems like the run block is struggling a little? what are your thoughts?
Alex Scarborough (12:39 PM)
Say the opposite and I'd agree with you. The run blocking has been superb this season. The pass blocking has been so-so and inconsistent. Look at the six sacks they allowed Western Kentucky. The good news is fixing the pass pro is only a matter of small adjustments.
Peg Leg Chuck (Germany)
With Dee Hart out, who is returning punts and kickoffs?
Alex Scarborough (12:39 PM)
Christion Jones will handle both duties.
Josh (Birmingham AL )
Josh (Birmingham AL )
With our cross state rival having the season they are having, will it make the iron bowl less of a big game?
Alex Scarborough (12:41 PM)
In my experience, the game is always a big game no matter what the records are. It's the Iron Bowl. People talk about it every day of the year.
Game that threatens Alabama the most in the regular season? For me it's Tennessee. Dooley knows he needs a big win this season and UT always likes to fight against Alabama. I can't help but get the same feeling I had in '10 when Alabama came off a NC and faced a decent USC team mid season.
Alex Scarborough (12:42 PM)
As I said earlier, don't sleep on the Aggies. Johnny Manziel can break down a defense and his offensive line is very, very good.
Any recruiting news???
Alex Scarborough (12:42 PM)
You'd have to check with TideNation recruiting writer Greg Ostendorf for that information. Find his work at www.tidenationespn.com or follow him on Twitter at @GregO_ESPN.
Cornerback Conner (Korea)
To put you on the spot, in your honest opinion, do you think Bama can run the table and make it to Miami and win? If not who do you think will win the NC?
Alex Scarborough (12:44 PM)
I think Alabama is certainly capable of getting to Miami. What they've shown through five games leaves no doubt of that. That said, I'd like to see them play a team that is capable of finishing the season ranked in the top 25 before I say they're going to make it. Too many variables at this point of the season to make those clear cut judgements.
Greg Shelton (Cookeville, TN)
Who would you say our best D Lineman is ?
Alex Scarborough (12:45 PM)
Nose guard Jesse Williams. He's a load in the middle of the line and is capable of getting into the backfield on passing situations.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
What is your favorite Beano Cook memory?
Alex Scarborough (12:46 PM)
I've listened to his podcasts with Ivan Maisel for some time. I don't have a specific memory that I can recall, but the lead anecdote in this profile is pretty darn funny: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1125856/index.htm
Sid (Montgomery AL)
If Saban runs for Governor of Alabama after he retires from the University of Alabama, do think he would win?
Alex Scarborough (12:47 PM)
There would be a split vote in this state, that's for sure. It would be weird to call him Governor Saban. Or would we stick to Coach Saban?
Do you cover the Senior Bowl? If so, do you attend the practices?
Alex Scarborough (12:48 PM)
I did last year and I expect to do the same this year. And, yes, I did attend practices. They have a great set up. I really enjoyed my time down there last year.
If, and it's a big IF, Alabama wouldn't have lost any players early to the draft, how much better would the team be compared to the great teams of the past?
Alex Scarborough (12:49 PM)
Oh man. Too big an "if." Too many running backs. Too many linebackers. Too many defensive backs to comprehend.
Alex--SEC West seems down vs last two years. With the remaining schedule which would you consider as the "trap game?" Second which is a non-football question-- are you in any way related to Joe Scarborough (MSNBC Morning Joe)?
Alex Scarborough (12:50 PM)
I'm not related to Joe, though I hear his show is a good one. As far as a trap, I'll say it again and again -- Texas A&M.
Not likely that AJ will go in the draft this year. So will he be a heisman favorite next year?
Alex Scarborough (12:51 PM)
A favorite? Not likely just because he's a quarterback in a conference not known for quarterbacks on a team that doesn't rely solely on quarterback play. He'd be in the conversation, but I just don't see him as the prohibitive favorite.
Steve (Casco Mi)
Who is next in line for the defensive coordinator? Do you agree this is Kirbys last year here?
Alex Scarborough (12:53 PM)
Too early to speculate who might replace Kirby -- it could be someone in house but I don't know who. But I do think that every year Kirby stays from now on will be a surprise to me. His stock is so high right now, especially if Alabama's defense finishes in the top 10 despite losing all they did from a year ago.
Are you getting tired of all the National Championship talk? I am! I really don't want the season to be over yet.
Alex Scarborough (12:54 PM)
Excellent point. I'm not going to give you the cliche "one game at a time" speech, but let's take a moment to savor the fact that Alabama's not yet half way through its schedule.
I spent last weekend in Missouri and they think Bama is going to thrash them--what do you think?
Alex Scarborough (12:55 PM)
I think they have the right mindset. With a weak and inexperienced offensive line and a backup QB in the game, it doesn't look good for Mizzou.
Which Bama jr's do you see going to the NFL next year?
Alex Scarborough (12:56 PM)
Off the top of my head: Dee Milliner, D.J. Fluker and possibly C.J. Mosley.
Alex, if AJ gets hurt, what will happen to the offense?
Alex Scarborough (12:57 PM)
It will be hurt in a major way and you might see Blake Sims running the read option. The depth behind him is not what you'd like to see if you're an Alabama fan.
Greg Shelton (Cookeville, TN)
Who do you think is our first O Lineman drafted ?
Alex Scarborough (12:58 PM)
It should be Chance Warmack. He's being talked about as the highest rated offensive lineman in the country, let alone Alabama. He's a beast.
Alex Scarborough (12:59 PM)
Well, folks, that's all the time I've got today. Enjoy the games this weekend and come back next week at the same time and place for another hour of Alabama football.