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 (12:00 PM)
Welcome to another hour-long chat about all things Alabama. There's plenty to talk about with spring football behind us, the NFL draft about to begin and a number of key hoops transfers to discuss. As with every week, I'll take the questions as they come in. If you don't get yours answered or want more Alabama coverage, visit TideNationESPN.com any time.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Which College Football Players who Played with Alabama in 2012 will be Returning to School for the 2013 Season?
Alex Scarborough (12:02 PM)
A number of starters return: Five on offense (QB AJ McCarron, LT Cyrus Kouandjio, RG Anthony Steen, WR Amari Cooper and Kevin Norwood) and six on defense (DE Ed Stinson, LB Adrian Hubbard and Trey DePriest and C.J. Mosley, CB Deion Belue, S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix).
Richard A (Trussville, Alabama)
How good of a chance does Derrick Henry to be ready for Fall camp?And also to be a true contributor when the season starts?
Alex Scarborough (12:04 PM)
Everything we've been told indicates that he should be 100 percent by fall camp, if not a few weeks before. There was no injury to the tendons, which is a good sign. Henry is a guy who can become a contributor as well. He's got good size and athleticism and seemed to be progressing very well before the injury. He won't be the No. 1 or 2 back, but he could be in the mix to get 5-8 carries per game depending on the situation.
Have you heard anything about more of the basketball players wanting to transfer?
Alex Scarborough (12:07 PM)
I have not, but we didn't hear anything prior to Lacey's decision to transfer if that says anything. Grant and the staff keep a tight lid on the program there and it was only a few weeks earlier that Lacey was giving transfer guard Ricky Tarrant a shootout on Twitter. That said, I don't expect any more movement, but Alabama fans have reason to be worried. Lacey was arguably the most talented player on the court for the Tide last season and with him gone, it's a wonder where the points will come from. Trevor Releford is good at getting to the basket but he'll have a tougher time without Lacey to play off of.
We must have some pull in the scheduling office! How do we year after year screw LSU on the SEC schedule? Hate to say but the Tide gets easy schedule.
Alex Scarborough (12:10 PM)
These things are cyclical, but I do agree that Alabama has received favorable schedules the last few seasons. (But don't forget 2010). The reason for all this, though, is the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M to the conference. It forced a restructuring of the schedule and made Ole Miss play at Alabama two years in a row -- probably the biggest travesty of all, in my opinion. The interesting thing to follow will be whether or not the SEC moves to a nine-game conference schedule rather than the current eight. It would be trouble for teams like Georgia, Florida and South Carolina who have strong in-state non-conference rivals they face every year, but it would also bring some positives to the situation as well, allowing more SEC teams to play one another.
What was your thoughts about Alabama football team this time last year compared to this year...where do you see then finishing
Alex Scarborough (12:14 PM)
I liked last year's team a little better coming out of camp, but it's hard to ignore the amount of talent Saban has amassed on both sides of the football. The secondary which was much maligned heading into A-Day looks to be better than expected and the offensive line which had a monumental recovery to make has appeared ahead of schedule thanks to youngsters like Ryan Kelly. Is this a championship caliber team? Absolutely. Will things have to fall the right way for that to happen? Of course, but that's the case every year. They won't be dominant up front like last year, but they have the potential to make it to the title game yet again.
where do we stand with m. humphrey? we have already taken several commits from db's, just wondering if that meant humphrey was not in play anymore.
Alex Scarborough (12:15 PM)
He's still very much in play. Alabama will likely take three corners this year and they only have two right now. Things will be quiet with Marlon for a while until he finishes track, but don't count him out. He was just in Tuscaloosa on a visit not too long ago and came away impressed. It's safe to say the Tide are in the driver's seat.
I don't want to overreact to the turnovers in the Spring Game. However, is it a more telling sign the secondary played so well. Just maybe the secondary will be a strength this year, especially at safety?
Alex Scarborough (12:16 PM)
I don't want to say the secondary as a whole will be a strength because the CB play still worries me. But safety will be an asset with so many talented guys back there. Expect Saban and Smart to move guys like Collins, Sunseri and Perry around a lot this season to create the best group of 11 on the field at a time.
Where do you think Marvin shinn will end up and any school he leaning towards and what about Danny Woodson to
Alex Scarborough (12:17 PM)
Honestly things have been very quiet on that front. There was whispers of Texas Tech, but that trail has gone quiet since the start of spring practice. He doesn't have to rush the decision now that the opportunity to participate in spring ball has passed.
While the secondary play stood out, who else did you come away impressed with? Personally it looks like Ryan Anderson is ready to step up at LB.
Alex Scarborough (12:19 PM)
Ryan Anderson did look much better at linebacker. He's a guy with a lot of tools whether it's at ILB or OLB. A couple other guys I liked were Landon Collins, Deion Belue, Dalvin Tomlinson, Arie Kouandjio and Brian Vogler.
Is their any incoming freshman that we might have to worry about their eligibility like grades and not qualifying
Alex Scarborough (12:19 PM)
Nothing solid right now so I won't openly speculate. There are two guys on the fringe but I'm told they'll find a way to get it done.
Who is the backup QB? No one came away impressive, especially Bateman.
Alex Scarborough (12:21 PM)
I maintain that if AJ McCarron were to go down for a significant period of time -- not just a few quarters -- the staff would do its best to get Alec Morris under center. He's got a ways to go in terms of decision making, but he's the best pure passer on the roster right now. Blake Sims is an asset running the football at quarterback, but his passing leaves something to be desired. He's inaccurate and worse, shows he can't make good decisions with the football. Phillip Ely isn't out of the question there's just not a lot there to believe he could be the guy and the three freshmen are too far behind right now to be viable.
Ryan (West Palm Beach)
Who has the best shot of being the next 1st round Defensive Back: Geno Smith, Landon Collins, or HaHa Clinton-Dix?
Alex Scarborough (12:23 PM)
Interesting question, Ryan. I'd say Landon has the highest upside but all three wouldn't surprise me. HaHa is such a ballhawk back there and Geno has the confidence and skill to be an NFL CB. In order of who could get taken highest I'd say: Landon, Geno, HaHa.
Glen (San Francisco)
@Chris Fiegler About 70 of 'em, Chris
Alex Scarborough (12:23 PM)
As Saban is oft to say, "You lost 25 percent of your team every year." Thusly you retain 75 percent.
Shea I (Boston)
Which of the freshman defensive players due to report this summer have the biggest chance of seeing time in the regular defensive rotation this fall? Given our depth at line-backer, is there any opportunity for Reuben Foster? What about Jonathan Allen or Dee Liner on the defensive line? Does anyone else have a shot?
Alex Scarborough (12:25 PM)
There are three guys I think have a significant chance: Jonathan Allen at Jack linebacker because of the need for more pass-rushers, Dee Liner at DE for the same reason and Maurice Smith at CB because of a lack of depth at the position and a need for more cover guys as more teams go with multiple WR looks. Smith may be this year's Geno Smith -- a guy that comes in late and takes his time learning the scheme but came make an impact late in the year.
anyone due for a breakout season after spring practice?
Alex Scarborough (12:27 PM)
Ryan Kelly has the look of a star at center. And Landon Collins could emerge as the next Marc Barron if he can get a handle on the playbook and earn enough reps. A third would be Chris Black at wide receiver. He's so shifty and fast and catches the ball really well. The position is stacked but I think he can find a way to get enough quality reps to make a significant impact this season.
LSU goes Furman-Open-Bama-Open. I think they'll manage.
Alex Scarborough (12:28 PM)
Fair point, but I don't think any Alabama fan would honestly want to trade schedules with the Tigers.
are we big enough on the Dline to stop the running game of teams like LSU?
Alex Scarborough (12:30 PM)
With two big NGs in Brandon Ivory and Darren Lake, I'd say so. Plus, Ed Stinson is even bigger and stronger this year. He'll be solid defending the run. There are enough guys on the line -- Jeoffrey Pagan included -- who can sub in and out depending on the situation whether it's run or pass. I'm more concerned with the latter.
After TJ Yeldon, how do you see the running backs line up? Also, which up and coming linebacker should we be on the look out for this year?
Alex Scarborough (12:31 PM)
At RB here's how I see the depth chart stacking up: Yeldon, Drake, Henry/Fowler/Hart, Kamara with either Tenpenny or Jones redshirting this season. And at LB, watch out for Reggie Ragland. He's a guy that could make an impact against the run.
can we win w/this offensive line? enough depth there?
Alex Scarborough (12:32 PM)
It won't be as dominant as a year ago, but yes the O-line is good enough to win. The starting five as it stands now (Kouandjio, Kouandjio, Kelly, Steen, Shepherd) is a good group and with guys like Williams, Brown and Hill behind them, there's plenty of depth to plug in in case of emergency.
Give me an early prediction on Texas A & M in game 2.
Alex Scarborough (12:34 PM)
Alabama in a nail-biter. I'm not as high on TAMU as I was a year ago. I worry about Manziel's psyche and the loss of Joeckel and Moore is underestimated. I think the Aggies come back down to earth but Alabama will have its hands full when it travels to a tough environment in College Station.
Who takes over as the No. 2 back now that Yeldon is the man?
Alex Scarborough (12:34 PM)
It's Kenyan Drake's job to lose and I don't see him letting it slip away. He's such an explosive back when he sees daylight. He could be the real surprise this season if he can get 10-15 touches per game.
Anything on Reggie Ragland, he was a beast in HS but not much on him since he's been in Tuscaloosa?
Alex Scarborough (12:35 PM)
As you'll note from my earlier comments, I see him as a star in the making. Physically, he fits the part.
with the draft today, would you project AJ McCarron to be a 1st round pick or starter in the NFL in 2014?
Alex Scarborough (12:37 PM)
It all depends on who else comes out with him. He's definitely go the potential to go there, but I worry about what will happen when he's put under the microscope and stats and wins no longer matter. Is his arm NFL caliber? Yes, but it's not elite. He's got to show a little more consistency in big games this season as well.
are Jimmy Graham,Gronkowski,Aaron Hernandez good blockers?I know Saban wants OJ Howard to be good blocker before playing him but let's use him and create mismatch in the passing game
Alex Scarborough (12:40 PM)
They would not be playing in the NFL if they weren't good blockers. You don't see the field at that high of a level unless you're the complete package. As far as OJ, he'll have to do the same and show he can hold up against SEC defenders. For now, though, he won't have to put his hand on the ground and face d-linemen. From the H-back position he'll have more room to run and less blocking responsibility than he'd have at TE. It has been promising, though, what I've seen in practice of his blocking ability. He's put on weight and held his own against some good pass-rushers from Alabama.
A lot of fans think Texas A&M will not be as good next season.I didn't see anyone slowing them down at the end of last season and they recruited a lot of WRs to help Manziel.what can we do this time to slow them down?
Alex Scarborough (12:43 PM)
Alabama can keep doing what it did the final three quarters of last year's game where it contained Manziel much better than it did the first quarter. When the defense settled down and figured it out after the Aggies initial run, the Tide took control and slowed the pace of the offense. If that were a five quarter game Alabama would have won. The goal of the staff will be to contain Manziel better while mixing up coverage to try and confuse him into mistakes.
Bryan (Va Beach)
Alex, How is it that 1 of the most decorated line man in the history of Alabama and the country, Berrett Jones, not the talk of the Draft, he barely gets any love. He can play any where on the line, and dominate! Where do you see him going in the Draft?
Alex Scarborough (12:46 PM)
As I said with McCarron earlier, the NFL microscope doesn't take into account things like character, stats and awards. It's all about what they see on film and in private workouts. And frankly Jones is not an elite prospect, despite his versatility. Go read the ESPN The Magazine feature on the cover of TideNationESPN.com now and see some of the scouts take on him having less than stellar measureables. Now do I believe he's not a guy with a 10-year career in front of him? Absolutely not. He can have a long career in the NFL. He's gone up against NFL caliber d-linemen in the SEC for four years and has always held his own.
With our wide receiver depth and running back prowess we should have a heck of an offense assuming we get good O-line play. What think ye?
Alex Scarborough (12:47 PM)
Agreed. With OJ Howard thrown into the mix, you're talking about an offense that will be very difficult to stop. There are so many weapons that the defense won't be able to key on just one guy.
Gronk (New England)
Gronk is best blocking TE in NFL.
Alex Scarborough (12:47 PM)
Alex Scarborough (12:48 PM)
or maybe the arrows are facing the wrong direction. You get the point about Gronk.
A lot of people are focused on TAMU in game 2 bot Ol Miss in game 4 worries me--your opinion?
Alex Scarborough (12:50 PM)
Ole Miss, despite the final score, gave Alabama a run for its money. They could be a major hurdle this season as the offense is a year older and wiser and the defense stands to improve dramatically from last season. The Rebs surrendered the fewest yards of the season to Alabama if you go back and look at the numbers. Don't sleep on Hugh Freeze's bunch.
With Bama having this weak of a schedule, what do you think their chances are of making it into the championship if they drop a game?
Alex Scarborough (12:52 PM)
In the SEC, strength of schedule is rarely a worry. If Alabama plays in and wins the conference title game, a trip to the NCG should be all but guaranteed. Multiple undefeated teams could muddle the outlook but even if say Louisville is undefeated I'm not sure they'd make it in ahead of a one-loss Alabama team. Go look at their schedule. It could be the thing that either makes or breaks the Cards.
This is probably the weakest schedule Bama will ever have between VaTech bein down, and our only opponents from the East being UK and UT. With that said, what would be Bama's chances of still making the chances of going to the championship as a 1 loss team if they drop a game this season?
Alex Scarborough (12:53 PM)
As I just said, if Alabama plays in and wins the SEC CG they should be fine.
If a team were to go 5 wide next year on Alabama, who would the DB's and safety's be?
Alex Scarborough (12:56 PM)
Tough question. I think it would look like this: S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, S Nick Perry, CB Geno Smith, CB Deion Belue, CB Cyrus Jones, CB Vinnie Sunseri, LB C.J. Mosley. I throw in Mosley because he's very good in pass defense. Also, don't count out Landon Collins or John Fulton being in that mix.
How improved will the pass rush be this year?
Alex Scarborough (12:59 PM)
With the ability to mix and match a number of guys on both the d-line and linebacker, there's a chance we see a marked improvement. Guys like Dalvin Tomlinson and Ryan Anderson are poised to make an impact after redshirting last season. It is worth noting that of the four players thrown off the team for their arrests, the biggest loss was D.J. Pettway who appeared to be Alabama's best young pass-rushers last season.
Alex Scarborough (1:00 PM)
Well that's all the time we've got, folks. It's been a pleasure. Have fun watching the draft tonight and remember to check out TideNationESPN.com throughout the week for all your Alabama coverage. We'll meet here at the same time and place next week. Look forward to seeing you all then.