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 back for another hour dedicated to chatting about all things Alabama football. It's been an interesting week in Tuscaloosa despite practice being on hold since the SEC Championship Game.
Alex, What is your thoughts on the Alabama Basketball team so far?
Alex Scarborough (12:03 PM)
I didn't expect that to be the first question, but I'm happy to put in my 2 cents. This season has been about finding a new identity as a more up-tempo, spread out offense now that JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell are gone. Because of the adjustments, there have been growing pains. Losing Carl Engstrom doesn't help. I'm holding off judgment until SEC play begins, but right now I don't think they're on their way to being a tournament team.
Given the year and momentum Texas A&M currently has where do you predict the Aggies to open the 2013 season at? What kind of impact could the week three game against Alabama at Kyle field have on the SEC West and National Title races?
Alex Scarborough (12:07 PM)
I see the Aggies as a top-10 -- possibly a top-5 team. But there will be a lot of question marks for Kevin Sumlin's squad. The offensive coordinator is gone, both tackles will be first round picks, as will DE Damontre Moore. There's also the question of whether Johnny Manziel will experience a sophomore slump. That said, there's so much young talent in College Station these days. It's hard for me to look at Texas A&M and not see a potential contender to reach Atlanta and make the SEC Championship next year.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide College Football Players will be selected in the 2013 NFL Draft?
Alex Scarborough (12:08 PM)
You're looking at CB Dee Milliner and G Chance Warmack going in the top half of the first round. C Barrett Jones will likely get taken somewhere in the second, third or fourth round. Juniors Eddie Lacy (RB) and D.J. Fluker (OT) are likely to turn pro. The only question mark is junior LB C.J. Mosley.
CJ Moseley (Disney World)
Should I stay or should I go?
Alex Scarborough (12:10 PM)
Speaking of ... let's get this out of the way. I think it might be in Mosley's best interest to go, but I'm not feeling too strong about it. While he could benefit from another year in the weight room (he's a tad on the light side for an NFL LB), his production this season is going to be hard to replicate. He'll be the first Bama LB to break 100 tackles since Rolando McClain.
Dave (Up North)
What are the chances that Lacy goes pro? If he does what round would he go?
Alex Scarborough (12:12 PM)
There's a very good chance he turns pro, in my opinion. I didn't think that at the start of the season with his durability issues, but the second half of the season has been a huge momentum swing. He made himself a lot of money the way he ran in the SEC Championship. He'll likely be a second or third round pick.
Alex, I know Chris Black didn't play in the SEC Championship, but I still feel he could be a difference maker playing opposite Cooper with his speed and talent. With a month to practice with McCarron and get the timing down don't you think it might be worth taking off the redshirt to help win a NC? He might not be around his senior year anyhow.
Alex Scarborough (12:13 PM)
It's tempting, but no, I don't see him playing. It's hard to justify burning a redshirt for one game, even if that is the national championship. The way Alabama is set up to the run the ball and pass off of play action, the importance of finding a fourth receiver isn't that great. Amari Cooper, Kevin Norwood and Christion Jones should be able to carry the load against Notre Dame. Now, do I think Black could potentially be an upgrade in the slot? Yes, I do, but not this moment. Give him an offseason to get ready.
Alex, Any chance Reuben Foster comes back to bama since he has decommitted from auburn now?
Alex Scarborough (12:14 PM)
Not from what I'm hearing. Check in with our Alabama recruiting guru Greg Ostendorf (@GregO_ESPN) at TideNationESPN.com for more.
THANK GOODNESS McCarron is coming back! What does this mean for Bama? Who do we have already or maybe coming up that will take the reins in two years?
Alex Scarborough (12:16 PM)
I don't see Blake Sims as the guy since his value is running the read-option. Phillip Ely hasn't done enough and Alec Morris is still a question mark. I like Morris' size and attitude. He comes from the mold of Greg McElroy -- a big-time Texas HS football product. But I think the future is with either 2012 commitment Parker McCleod or Cooper Bateman. Bateman is likely the guy as he's a rare kind of talent. He's a pure passer who ESPN scouts rank in the top 10 at his position.
It is debatable, but like many I just don't think ND can move the ball on Bama. Saban has over a month to prepare for a very basic offense. No big threats like LSU RBs, TAM QB, or Georgia QB. But do you think Bama has enough Offense to move the ball on ND?
Alex Scarborough (12:19 PM)
You make some good points, Shaun. I don't see Bama struggling to stop Notre Dame on offense. The Irish don't seem to have the guys to stretch the field. If you're one-dimensional against Nick Saban, you're going to struggle. It's not so clear cut on the other side of the football, though. Notre Dame is very, very good on defense, and big enough in the trenches to battle with Alabama's offensive line. I see this as a low-scoring game where we see the Tide run the ball with limited success and go to the play action in search of big plays. The one rabbit in the hat could be the no-huddle offense Doug Nussmeier used late in the season.
Looking into next year, will we have the o-line that could keep us in contention for a possible 3-peat? And do you see any other positions of concern for next year's squad?
Alex Scarborough (12:22 PM)
The offensive line will be the major question mark for Alabama next season. While it will likely be good, it won't be great like it's been this year. Cyrus Kouandjio and Anthony Steen are two good building blocks. Ryan Kelly has the potential to be an upgrade as a pure center before it's all said and done and either Leon Brown or Austin Shepherd should come in at right tackle. But with so many moving parts, chemistry could be an issue. And that is huge on the line. Other than the trenches, I see defensive back as being a problematic spot. The secondary has been suspect this year and losing Dee Milliner and Robert Lester won't help. And frankly, there aren't many cornerbacks waiting in the wings other than Geno Smith.
Travis (San Mateo, CA)
With the likes of Lacy, Miliner, Fluker, etc possibly declaring early and the seniors moving on.... What position would you say Alabama has the most depth going into 2013? Not including running back which will obviously be a deep position.
Alex Scarborough (12:25 PM)
I had to laugh out loud there as I was about to type "running back" before I got to your last sentence. Other than the ridiculous depth Alabama will have at running back, I point to the defensive line and wide receiver as two deep spots. Jeoffrey Pagan, D.J. Pettway and Ed Stinson are three good starting points on the d-line. The only concern will be how Darren Lake and Brandon Ivory battle it out at nose guard. Receiver, which struggled with depth this season, should be much different. I'll just list the names and you can read into the rest: Kevin Norwood, Amari Cooper, Christion Jones, Kenny Bell, DeAndrew White, Chris Black, Cyrus Jones, Marvin Shinn.
Any Injury updates on Barrett Jones? Jesse Williams?
Alex Scarborough (12:26 PM)
Nothing new but expect both to be ready if not at the start of practice next week then definitely in time for the game.
Chances of Bell's return for the BCSNC? I keep hearing ND's perimeter is their soft spot. Cooper and Bell could have big days spreading out that D.
Alex Scarborough (12:27 PM)
I'd be surprised if we saw him back on the practice field anytime soon. Coming back from a broken tibia is not easy. The timetable for him to return was two days before the championship game. That's not much time to practice and get his legs back at 100 percent and in game shape.
Neal (Charlotte, NC)
Due to the injury to Kenny Bell, it was reported prior to the SEC Championship the Bama was considering lifting the redshirt on Chris Black. I don't recall seeing him play. Is that still a consideration for the BCS title game?
Alex Scarborough (12:28 PM)
I think that's off the table at this point. Reading into Chris' comments after the SEC Championship, it appears he's content to redshirt this season.
Any word on a Dial suspension? What do you think about the hit? I think it was clean. If a QB doesn't want hit, pull the Peyton Manning and after an interception fall to the ground!
Alex Scarborough (12:30 PM)
Nothing new. The decision is still in SEC commissioner Mike Slive's hands. I wouldn't be surprised if he is suspended, but then again I won't be surprised if they look the other way. I wasn't OK with the hit. It was totally unnecessary given the way the play was going. It's football so I don't know whether I'd suspend him, but as a coach I'd be in Dial's ear with a few choice words.
Wit AJ coming back along with Cooper, White, Chris Black, Norwood along with the rest of the receiving corps along with the possibility of adding Robert Foster how explosive could the offense be...... Not to mention the loaded backfield.
Alex Scarborough (12:31 PM)
The passing game should open up next season. The depth at receiver speaks for itself. I think the addition of Black will be huge when Alabama goes four-wide. The only concern will be how the offensive line holds up. Can they protect AJ? And can they get the running game going enough where teams must respect both the run and the pass?
Jacob (New Orleans)
What are the chances Coach Saban leaves for the NFL (or another job in general)?
Alex Scarborough (12:33 PM)
5 percent since I feel like I should put a number on it. I don't see Saban going to the well once more in the NFL. His deal is player development. He likes taking a prospect and turning him into a pro. He thrives off the complete control he can have over a program at the college level and that's not possible in the NFL. He'd have to contend with an owner, a general manager and more front office personnel than I can count. I truly believe Alabama is his final stop, though I think he's got a few more years in him.
What can you tell us about Bama injuries... anything significant right now? I know Amari Cooper and Barrett Jones both left Atlanta a lil sore and it was clearly a physical game. Just curious if there were any lingering effects.
Alex Scarborough (12:35 PM)
The best part about playing in the national championship, aside from the obvious, is the time off for the players. Those injuries we saw in Atlanta are a culmination of going through an entire SEC season. I don't think there are any significant enough to keep players out of the title game on Jan. 7. While some like Barrett Jones might not be back out on the practice field on Day 1 (Dec. 18), I fully expect a full squad come Miami.
The O-line is taking a huge hit,...who are the replacements, pluses and minues....I know the 2nd and 3rd teamers got some reps in this season, but what does that really tell you?
Alex Scarborough (12:37 PM)
It doesn't tell us much, if you ask me. I like Ryan Kelly at center. I hear he's played very well in practice and could become a worthy successor to Barrett Jones. Outside of him, I'd like to see more of Austin Shepherd at tackle and who Alabama lands come national signing day. Wouldn't it be fun to watch Shepherd, Leon Brown and Laremy Tunsil battle for the second tackle spot? Brown is already committed but Tunsil has yet to pull the trigger.
Let's talk the game... How do you see Bama containing Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert?
Alex Scarborough (12:39 PM)
Boy, it's going to be tough. Alabama doesn't have a linebacker that can stay with him. The most athletic guy at the position is C.J. Mosley and he's a little too small to stay with Eifert in the red zone, in my opinion. Nico Johnson and Adrian Hubbard are bigger but less adept in coverage. I think we'll see Hubbard chip at the line of scrimmage and then have a defensive back like Robert Lester take over coverage when he hits the second level.
Kenyan Drake has looked really good when he gets into the game. Any idea why he doesn't see more carries? Ball Security? Blocking?
Alex Scarborough (12:41 PM)
Neither. It's the score. There hasn't been much opportunity for him to get in the game because there hasn't been a need. He was suspended for WCU and might have gotten in against Auburn, but Brent Calloway needed work, too. I don't think it's an issue of ball security or anything specific. He's still in the coaching staff's plans.
Alex, You didn't mention Arie Kouandjio as a possible starter for next year. Is he not progressing?
Alex Scarborough (12:42 PM)
I should have mentioned him as an option at guard. He's been working with the second team and could end up starting at either guard spot next year. Good catch. Didn't mean to leave Arie out.
You just said you see this being a low scoring game. If that's the case doesn't the 10pt spread see a bit high if points will be at a premium?
Alex Scarborough (12:44 PM)
Well, see, how do I put this without giving too early of a prediction? I think it's a low scoring game but I like Alabama winning by more than 10 points but less than 14. I could leave it at that and you'd get the point, but to expand a little further, I just don't see Notre Dame having success moving the ball and I think the Irish get worn down in the fourth quarter.
Barrett Jones (Bama)
Who is going to fill my shoes in the area of leadership and class acts? Can anyone have as positive of a career as I have had?
Alex Scarborough (12:45 PM)
I'm not sure we'll ever see a student athlete -- and you rarely catch me using that phrase -- like you again at Alabama, Barrett. That's not to say there aren't good guys on the team already and in the future, but your entire body of work on and off the field is something that's truly admirable. Not to mention you're a pretty funny dude.
The common theme is that giving Saban a month to prepare means 'Bama can't lose. Isn't that completely ignoring the fact the coach on the other side is pretty darn good as well (2 time National Coach of the year)? Saban also had a month to prepare for Utah in the Sugar bowl.
Alex Scarborough (12:48 PM)
You raise a good point. I think there is such a thing as over game-planning. I don't know if that will happen when Saban and Smart get the defense ready. That's where I see Alabama getting creative. But on the offensive side of the ball, I worry about overcomplicating things. We saw it this season when Alabama seemed to force the issue throwing the ball in an attempt to be balanced. I wonder whether Saban and Nussmeier stick with what works and rely on an offensive line which hasn't been proven capable of being stopped, or if they get cute and try to throw the ball around on a big stage.
How do you expect Tide to attack ND defense?
Alex Scarborough (12:48 PM)
Yes. With five 300-pound offensive linemen.
Why do you think Eddie is coming out? Has he said so? I was down on him at the beginning of the year but have been really impressed as he has gotten healthy.
Alex Scarborough (12:50 PM)
He hasn't said as such himself, but there's at least one report out there claiming he's a done deal to turn pro. And I completely agree with the second statement you make. I kept watching the SEC Championship Game, knowing how many scouts were seeing the same thing, and saying to myself, "Boy, Eddie is making himself a lot of money right now."
Looking at recruiting numbers for 2013, A&M and Georgia are way over 25 rule of SEC...A
Alex Scarborough (12:51 PM)
I think I know where you're going with this, and here's the answer: http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/colleges/tamu/post?id=4222
Do you see Theo Riddick and Tyler Eifert being mismatches that the Irish could exploit? ND has and can split both out and neither can be covered by a LB or safety.
Alex Scarborough (12:53 PM)
Riddick and Eifert are Notre Dame's best options on offense, in my opinion. So long as the Irish stay balanced and run the ball effectively, I think those two can exploit the Alabama defense. If Notre Dame is one-dimensional or is forced to throw the football, their value diminishes.
You keep hearing that LSU and aTm "exposed" Bama's Defense and that ND can as well. But ND couldn't "expose" the defenses of USC or Boston College. Did Bama lose THAT much respect by having two questionable games? Cause BC and USC were TERRIBLE!
Alex Scarborough (12:55 PM)
Alabama did lose a lot of respect for what happened against LSU and TAMU. The Tide might have lost some juice with what happened against Georgia as well. Do I think Notre Dame is the same caliber offense as those three schools? Probably not. Can Notre Dame do some things on offense that might give Alabama troubles? Of course. Remember Brian Kelly is a darn good coach with several weeks to watch film and dream up ways to exploit Alabama's weak spots.
From this year's group of redshirts on defense, who are most likely to earn a spot in d line rotation for next year?
Alex Scarborough (12:57 PM)
I'm hearing good things about Dakota Ball's potential. He could become a Nick Gentry, third-down type at nose guard. Also, keep an eye on Dalvin Tomlinson at defensive end. Nick Saban said a few weeks ago that had it not been for Tomlinson's injury, he might have been an option in the rotation this year. Another guy to watch who is more of a Jack linebacker is Ryan Anderson. He had a great spring camp last year but tailed off in the fall. He has the potential to impact the game rushing the passer.
Alex Scarborough (12:59 PM)
Well, folks, that's all the time I've got today. I hope you enjoyed it and check back here next week at the same time for another round. In the meantime, check out TideNationESPN.com for all your Alabama football news 24/7/365. Cheers!